Next week, the Seattle Police Officers Guild will announce the results of the guild's vote on Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske. In early February, ballots were sent out to the nearly 1,200 guild members, who can mark whether or not they have confidence in the chief. Currently, ballots are filtering into a post office box, and the guild's election committee will collect and tally the votes after the March 19 postmark deadline.

Results are expected around March 21: From the current buzz, it seems likely the vote will go against the chief. While the vote is not legally binding (Mayor Greg Nickels has already said he will keep Kerlikowske regardless of the results), it still spells trouble for the chief. Depending on how wide the margin, a no-confidence result could cause the guild to rally for a new chief.

The Stranger asked a few dozen Seattle police officers if they'd be willing to discuss the guild vote. Only one officer was willing to go on record (though he wished to remain anonymous). If his analysis is any gauge--he says Kerlikowske is more politician than cop, and officers have been frustrated for much of his tenure--Kerlikowske should take note.

Here are the officer's thoughts:

This has been building awhile. Especially among patrol, [the no-confidence vote] has widespread support. It was initiated at a general guild membership meeting--it wasn't the board, it wasn't the president who called for it--a lot of officers were outraged at what happened [with Officer Jess Pitts, who was disciplined in January following a complaint over how he treated Asian American students in the International District last summer]. It was at a general membership meeting that it came up, and the officers there voted to put the ballots out.

Morale in the department has been declining. There's a strong feeling among a lot of rank and file that there's no leadership, that there's no chief. We don't need a politician, we need a police chief--someone who's willing to put the facts out there as they are, and if an officer is right, defend that officer.

Kerlikowske is the head spokesperson for the department whether he likes it or not, and there's some actions we take in law enforcement that have to be defended. You tell the citizens the truth--why it happened, and what law-enforcement principles it was based on--and you defend your officers' actions. If the citizens of Seattle don't like that accepted law-enforcement principle, they should voice their opinions, and we'll change the way we do our job. But don't change the rules to fit whatever population group or whatever situation comes up just to appease people.

Just don't say you have a problem for the sake of saying you have a problem. I think too often the chief does that. He rolls over trying to appease the group that's angry at the time.

You can play politics with a lot of things, but when you discipline someone, when you take disciplinary actions against someone based on political purposes, that's where you draw the line. I want to be disciplined because the chief, or whoever imposes that discipline, truly believes that I did something wrong. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth that you would do it just for political purposes.

There's a concern that the chief in a lot of ways has abdicated his overall responsibility in running the department, in disciplinary matters, to [Office of Police Accountability director Sam Pailca]. A lot of people--rank and file, and command staff personnel--thought the reprimand of Jess Pitts was unwarranted. And the chief, he can't point to one specific act taken by Jess that was conduct unbecoming of an officer.

[Kerlikowske's] not really engaged. He's really distant. He tries to have coffee with cops every month or couple months. But it's about seeing him at roll calls, trying to really listen to officers' concerns, coming out and riding on the streets at night a couple of days.

Once [the vote] comes back, considering how strong it is, we have to really sit back and decide: We know we have no confidence in the chief at this point in time--are there corrections he can make to resolve this situation? Or is it to such an extent that we have to actively and aggressively campaign for a new chief? That's something we can't say just now; we have to wait for the votes to come back in and see how overwhelming it is. I'd be very surprised if it comes back any other way. I'd be very surprised.