News Feb 4, 2015 at 4:00 am

But Negotiations with the Union Aren't Promising


Surely there is medium ground between 14th Amendment protections of due process before they are deprived of pay or a job, to cops (in this case) and other public employees, and the current process that puts the employed, rather than the employer (with tax money) judging job performance.

Duagard is right, the DRB needs to go. What it gets replaced with, so that cops are disciplined by those that hire them, and not their fellow employees, in a way that protects them from subjective or unsubstantiated allegations, is an open question. But you can't have the hired standing in judgment of themselves.

Everyone forgets that public employees have rights against discipline and determination that private employees do not. Why? The 14t Amendment will not allow discipline or termination without due-process and the government proving criminality or incompetence in connection in there work is more probable than not. Government has to do long, detailed investigations that private employers would not. It is not enough in the public government sphere (unless you repeal the 14th Amendment) that you are public relations nightmare to your employer. It is not enough that there is public outrage. Conduct must be investigated, documented, corroborated, etc. Were Whitlatch an employee of a private company, it would not be so.
I'm not from Seattle; usually the only news I get is from The Stranger when I'm here to read Dan Savage's column, so I'm not that well versed on your politics.

I've been to Seattle many times. How did such an amazing city, with the beauty, civility, culture and wonderful people get saddled with such a police force? I'm not being rhetorical. Seriously, how did this happen?
Short version of this article: Nothing new happens. Yay for SPD!
@2 raises a thought: get more national publicity for the SPD so this constant sweeping under the rug/ignoring is impossible. Local pols will have no idea how to blow hot air and shrug shoulders at that kind of attention.

Due process, due process, due process. It is not a police issue specifically, or a Seattle issue, specifically. You can find lots of similar cases with teachers and other public employees getting hearing after hearing, and often reinstatement or reduced discipline, by exercising due process righs as the guy in the story above is. Because government employs it citizens, providing them the compensation, and other benefits, associated with that employment, they can't deny them those without due process of law under the 14th Amendment.

No private employer would pay as much and go through as many steps as SPD is having to go through with Lt. Lowe.
SPD is a permanent running joke, except the joke's on all of us who hang out in Seattle. The only way to get rid of old attitudes is to get rid of the people with those attitudes. Bad cops like Whitlach and the retrogrades at SPOG have to go.
Seems like a pretty basic negotiation: SPOG concedes to new standards or no one gets raises. Keep that policy until standards are adopted. The standards will put people on unpaid leave during due process and give SPOG the opportunity to pay cops and be reimbursed if a jury trial renders them innocent.

We are all prisoners of SPOG.
The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed for racial bias in policing. In 1987, in McCleskey v. Kemp, the Court determined that "racial bias in sentencing, even if shown through credible statistical evidence, could not be challenged under the Fourteenth Amendment in the absence of clear evidence of conscious, discriminatory intent." The case, although about a death penalty, created a New Jim Crow law that allowed "racial bias in the criminal justice system as a whole." The Court said "racial bias would be tolerated -- virtually to any degree -- so long as no one admitted it." That "no one" is, in practice, the police.
Excerpt from "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness" by Michelle Alexander, The New Press, rev. 2012, p.109

The Constitution, as interpreted by the US Supreme Court, is racist. Law enforcement's racism incubates, flourishes uncontrolled, under the protection of the justice system, and, in turn, feeds the massive, U.S. prison system.
Policing is a crappy and negative job as it is now imagined and practiced (the sheer number of handguns don't help things, certainly).

Fundamentally changing our model of policing and criminal justice seems in order, but that is a big ask. I get advocating for a truly independent OPA. But can't we also make fundamental changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement? That would appear to me, anyways, the most leverage the City of Seattle has in this regard.
Stop blaming the union. Unions will do what unions do - negotiate the best possible deal for their members.

Pierce Murphy nails the problem in one sentence "Unfortunately that's the system elected officials have created". Our elected officials have negotiated away things that never should have been negotiated away. In the next set of negotiations they need to make it right. Significant changes to the collective bargaining agreement will likely be needed and police should not get a new contract without them. We should be prepared to face down a slowdown strike (though in some precincts how would we know the difference!), blue flu, and whatever else needs to happen (can the police here go on strike?) to push them through.

Whining about th union acting like a union is stupid, a distraction from the core issues, and a waste of time.
@10, People aren't whining about the police union bargaining for good wages and benefits. We're outraged about the union acting like a gang and fostering a culture of racism, while obstructing accountability for its lawbreaking members.

The police force is supposed to be the front line of justice, but the police union is a perpetual impediment to justice.
@11, my thoughts exactly.
The city caves to the unions constantly. They're afraid to negotiate because they think it will cost them politically. The unions know this and of course take advantage of it, like any good agent would.
The problem, of course, is that the police are themselves "an impediment to justice". The SPOG is made up of its members and they, like all cops, do not work for us. Why do people think cops and military are, unlike all other public workers, uniquely beloved of the far right? Because they're a bulwark of oppression. Why do people think police "unions" are exempt from the attacks all other organized labor is constantly under from the state and the capitalist class? Because they're a bulwark of oppression. Nothing will every change or improve until people realize that police per s are the enemy of the people.
@11, police unions are historically insular and reactionary - a view that is widely acknowledged on the left, commonly broached by the libertarian wing of the right, (and by neocons as well, though they generally hate unions)

The CBA is an point of departure, and least, in establishing a clear set of professional responsibilities and specific consequences that can be acted upon by the OPA. If they do not agree to these terms, then negotiate terms with an alternative union? Something a labor law expert could weigh in on, I suspect.
Just like it would be illogical to expect a corporation to act in any way except to increase shareholder value, it would be illogical to expect a union to act in any way other than to protect it's members. The only two ways to change either of these situations (corporate greed and SPOG issues) is through legislation and through public shaming (e.g. exposure). If their actions becomes embarrassing or indefensible enough, then they will have to adapt.
SPOG endorsed Ed Murray and he has bent over backward to give them everything they have demanded. The police reform process in Seattle is fake - the DOJ isn't watching this closely, Jenny Durkan and Ed Murray never cared about the issue and only saw it as a weapon against the previous mayor, and the City Council doesn't give a shit and never has.
One thing not mentioned, but I'm curious about: the teacher who was pepper sprayed is suing for 500k. The Woman punched in the face is suing for $1M. Wingate is suing for 750k. We as tax payers are going to be stuck with the bill, and it is going to result in cuts somewhere else. Shouldn't these individuals (and/or their Union) be at least partially financially liable?
@18: That seems to be the case for all but Kshama Sawant, who clearly does give a shit.
@19: We should require police to carry insurance against liability arising for their on-the-job conduct. Doctors carry malpractice insurance. Police should carry misconduct insurance.
@21 - First reaction to this was: This is a fantastic idea! They mess up and are responsible for a payout, their rates go up; F up too many times, and they'll cancel your policy, and you're out of work. Sounds great, but then I started thinking about what would likely actually happen... the SPOG would negotiate a deal so that the city covers the insurance, and so officers would no longer have to worry about it and the city would be stuck making payments to an additional insurance agency. Also a for-profit insurance company would likely prefer to continue to raise rates rather than canceling a money-making policy, so we would still have the bad cops on the streets, and be paying more for them. Maybe I'm being too pessimistic, but it seems all too possible.

Instead maybe the city buying a liability policy would be effective? then the insurers would provide an incentive for removing potential problem cops by making the City's premium go up if they remain active.
Time to toss out the police, and bring in a private security company.

At least they would be accountable to the taxpayers, and not their Union Overlords.

Get rid of the military toys as well.

If Janie Bluebuttons wants to play soldier, let her enlist.

We could even dis-arm the new security force, just to show the leftists how great their ideas are.

Need fire power? Call the National Guard, let them bring their tanks.
@22: set it up as follows

If the insurance pays out so much in a year, nobody gets raises. If it pays out between some lower amount and that amount, they get small raises, if it pays out very little money, they get bigger raises.

Then there is motivation for the SPOG to encourage good behavior, because if they weed out bad apples, they all get more money. There is motivation for the city to investigate allegations, because if they have to pay out, they owe the cops less.
I hate to say it, but keep litigating their behavior caught on camera until it becomes so expensive they have no choice but to reform.
If you're going to make any political progress here at all, then you're going to have to find some way to make the law regulating the police unions different from the law regulating other government employee unions.

There are quite a lot of rather good arguments to be made for changing laws in that way, I think. But to date, I haven't seen anyone on the left making such arguments.

There's been a lot of success on the right in eroding teachers' unions while buttressing police/firefighter unions (hello, Scott Walker voters). Why are we having so much trouble fighting for the reverse?

Small correction: Doctors in private practice personally carry malpractice insurance.

Police officers are not in private practice, they have an employer. Their employer is liable for malpractice. And their employer is... us. We are the ones who pay the police. We are the ones who vote on the laws regarding their conduct, and on the constraints of their employment contracts.

And thus we are the ones responsible for buying malpractice insurance, or for paying damages not covered by insurance.

And this is, arguably, as it should be: if we, the public, do not do enough to make sure police officers don't harm the innocent, then we, the public, should be made to pay for restorative justice when police officers do harm the innocent.

The idea that financially starving police forces will improve their morality completely ignores the fact that the less you pay a government official, the greater incentive you give that official to become corrupt, accepting compensation from sources other than official payroll.

I think you'll find there are plenty of morally or legally questionable organizations willing to pay at least a few grand per police officer per year just to have the justice system look the other way, most of the time.

Shorter: Market forces don't automatically make everything better. FUCKING OBVIOUSLY.
I love how the author paints her former partner as a tainted police office and then uses her claims to prove how racist this cop is. Anyways, I know you love to point out how racist whites are, but it turns out not all are. As you can see the store worker (who is white) is helping the customer (who is black) tie a tie:…
@28: Point taken.
I propose that all black police officers be transferred to the East Precinct and the white police officers in the East Precinct be distributed among Downtown and West Seattle precincts. That would be an interesting experiment.

SPD needs new recruits. Who's with me?!

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