News Sep 10, 2014 at 4:00 am

West Precinct Sergeant Sounds Off on Race, Ferguson, and Police Militarization

Jeremy Sorese


I think people like Christopher G. Hall #6366 of Seattle Police Department should say things like he said. It's good to know which police are from the Rich "We wouldn't have these problems if people would just do what police tell them to do" O'Neill school of policing. Those people present a real a danger to public safety when we put them on the streets with guns and special authorization to kill with impunity.

Kathleen O'Toole should think hard about whether keeping a powderkeg like Hall on staff is a risk worth taking. Sooner or later, he'll harm someone, and we'll know that he very likely did not need to do so.
Kathleen O'Toole hasn't lifted a finger to do anything about the police reforms. shes made things worse.
Doing nothing about this sends a very loud message, that being, business as usual - cops so-inclined can get away with being authoritarian summary judge, jury and executioner.

It's a dangerous job, but that does not mean you get super powers.
@2: Hardly anyone in city government has lifted a finger to do anything to reform police in Seattle. The U.S. Department of Justice found 240 excessive force cases. Not one of those officers, their on-duty buddies, or their supervisors (so figure 750 of the 1300 sworn staff are complicit), has been disciplined or even publicly identified. SPD management regularly rubber-stamp use of force, and OPA Director Kathryn Olson rubber-stamped investigations for years. 20% of patrol staff are raising funds for a lawsuit to nullify the use-of-force policy that was enacted on recommendation of the Community Police Commission.
@3: Every job is dangerous. In the United States, though, police officer doesn't even rank in the top 10, according to reports by Forbes, TIME, and CBS.

Loggers, fishers, pilots, and roofers risk their lives every day on the job. Police officers' biggest on-the-job risk is traffic accident.
I get that this makes Hall look bad, is perhaps deserving of a conversation with his supervisor, and perhaps reveals much to us about his potential conduct as an officer... BUT it still should not be grounds for firing.

If he's making comments on his private social media account, outside of work hours, it really isn't anyone's business.

Dominic, how would you like it if The Stranger decided to fire you based on something you wrote on Facebook? What if SPD or the City complained because of something you wrote about the Chief or the Mayor's Office or the officer who harrassed you?

Would ANY of us be okay with being fired from our jobs for expressing something during our own off-the-clock time and not on behalf of our place of employment? If not, then it's NOT okay to hold others to a higher standard. We don't subject police officers to a morality test or a political oath, and we don't elect officers to their positions either.
Errrr, sorry, I meant Ansel. Doh! :-)
@6: Christopher Hall's words don't "make him look bad." They reveal that his attitude toward policing---toward his job enforcing public policy with force---is bad.

Of course people can say what they like on their free time. But when a police officers say, on their free time or any time, the things that this guy said, it's a strong indication that further employment of those people as a police officers presents a danger to public safety.

The guy openly supports Ian Birk (a murderer who, for all we know, may still work as a cop). Hall does not belong on the street making split-second decisions about whether a tottering old drunk with a little carving knife should be shot dead or not, and he does not belong in a position where he can participate in SPD's pattern of rubber-stamping use-of-force incidents.
"A militarized group, such as the police, is one that uses weapons and is organized like an army." Since we are talking words, I believe it helps to understand the meaning of the contested word- 'militarized'.
Since the Seattle police are armed and have lower-level staffing tiered and with tier titles just like the Army, Officer Hall's comment about police militarization seems appropriate to me. His opinion is that police need to be armed with lethal-force weaponry, as our Army is armed, in order to deal with the violent nature of much of U.S. crime. I don't know of any US municipal police department that is not armed with guns. Too many people are reading their own interpretation as to what Officer Hall meant to say but didn't actually say. Otherwise, they wouldn't be so angry at him. That should not be Officer Hall's problem.
No wonder SPD is under federal oversight, clearly the inmates are running the asylum.

If Hall has the right mix of gall and insensitivity to say such things in public, one can only imagine what his private opinions are. Just a guess but he doesn't seem to have the ability to see past a little extra skin pigment.

I've seen and read about my share of unprofessional SPD behavior but this guy takes the cake. And with SPD, that's really saying something, it's almost like they're all in a contest to see who can be the worst cop ever.
@9: It's hard not to know what is generally meant by militarization of police these days.

See also:

"War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing,"…

Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces,…

"Ferguson-style militarization goes on trial in the Senate,"…

"After Ferguson Unrest, Senate Reviews Use of Military-Style Gear by Police,"…

"Ferguson and the militarization of America’s police,"…

People get fired all the time because of things they say on Facebook and most often times they are completely within reason. I'm sure if he said enough, he could have easily gotten fired.

That said, I do agree with you though, Christopher Hall doesn't deserve to be fired for what he has already said. We may think less of him as a person though and when that happens he shouldn't be as surprised or as indignant as he has been.
One of these integrated into or next to every SPD badge, a signature at hiring indicating full knowledge and compliance. Make it mandatory, like a drug screen. Wanna join the force and you're committed to the mission of 'Protect & Serve?' Perfect. Then not only will you not mind wearing one, you'll insist.…

IMMEDIATELY initiate the 'badge cam,' fire the hot head bullies and deal with the lawsuits later. Enough is enough.
If they want to be "Militarized", they can join the military.

Otherwise they should learn that they are public servants.

Take away their war toys and clothes, and make them wear a dress uniform.
As a veteran there is one thing I would like to bring up about "militarization" of the police.

There ain't no fucking union in the Army, and if you go against the orders of your commander, you go to prison.

That is the main issue with all the police acting like they are special forces, they get to fight against orders without repercussion. In the real military, your job is to do what your commander says, without question or hesitation. In the army there is no overtime, you work 24/7/365. there is no representative between you and command to negotiate the mission. Without rigid general orders that are followed without question all we have is a bunch of wannabee mercenaries.

@ 15. Except in the military you have the duty to disobey any unlawful order. If you really were a veteran, you'd know this.
@16 yup, you can plead your case to the court marshal board. While in custody. Explain to them how them how you disagree with the rules of engagement set forth by your commanders and hope you don't end up in Leavenworth with a dishonorable discharge as you leave.

Ever seen anybody in custody of the MP's while they wait for court marshal? The guards give you skittles and flowers every day...
'private social media' good one!

This isn't just guns and tasers folks, police in King county have received almost two hundred bayonets from the military. Something to think about next time you're peacefully protesting or celebrating that big win. Go team!…
@18: The records I saw from WA Department of Enterprise Services didn't show KCSO receiving bayonets. However, Thurston County Sheriff received 10 and Washington Dept of Fish and Wildlife received 10. WA Fish and Wildlife also received a bit under 200 M16 and M14 rifles and three modern army combatives training kits:…

Multiple police departments in this state were banned from the 1033 program for losing M16s they were given:…
I'm embarrassed & appalled that our Seattle tax dollars are going to pay the salary of the entitled & ignorant & hateful Sgt. Christopher Hall. If the Seattle PD disciplinary process can't deal with him, it's time to change these "policies".

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