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"Even in circumstances that seem unambiguous and offensive to the average citizen, officers can appeal their firing through the union and get their jobs back."
That sounds like mob rule. Take a poll and register the public's sentiment of the moment, likely based on incomplete information, and "off with their job (head)!" Even when based on largely complete and accurate information, individual officers, or any government employee, is still a citizen and has a right to the protections of the rule of law. They have a right to rely on, and be judged by, the laws and employment rules in place at the time, not the prevailing public sentiment of the moment, or a premature rush to judgment.
Martin Luther King, Jr. fought hard to make sure that black citizens got equal protection under the law, not the treatment of the majority that disregarded law, rules, and procedure when it suited their sentiments or emotions. That work is not finished. The principals he fought for are very important, and need to be upheld, particularly when the person or persons being evaluated and their race or beliefs are not popular with the public passions of the moment. Some version of Jim Crow and mob "lynching" does not become appropriate just because decades later the perpetrators of mob rule and the victims may start to change. What King was fighting for was the rule of law for everyone, not just the racial or other majority sentiment of the day.
For fellow citizens that get their livelihood at the pleasure of a government employer, the absolute, (not relative to the public opinion of moment) standard is the RCW, SMC, workplace policies, and the precedent how they were applied to other employees in similar facts and circumstances. They have right to rely on that. It is not what "seem(s) unambiguous and offensive to the average citizen (mob)." And what if the issue isn't as it "seems"?
Instead, police officers, knowing the current anti-police sentiment, should be going out of their way to be professional because they should feel their jobs are on the line if they don't JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER SERVICE JOB.
On top of this, our country is obsessed with making sure any criminal can have as many guns as they want, either by our actions or our own inactions.
That we will trust their word is part of the coin we pay them with when we task them to do their jobs.
That being said, while I do not begrudge any workers who forge a strong union for themselves and the union for protecting its members, the days of having to rely on one side of the story every time are over, and the perniciousness of the blue wall of silence is becoming untenable.
A bipartisan, representative, and independent civilian review board is the only way I can see to solve these issues and respect the role of officers, and their unions. Let the board decide what happens, and let the union present a case before it.
@5 I don't begrudge the police (or, really, any group of workers) a strong union. I want the police well paid, with excellent benefits, and with a significant say over a variety of details about their job. But giving them a say in excessive force hearings--not just a set of procedural rights but the right to be their own judges--is so obviously and straightforwardly a conflict of interest that it should never have been even considered in negotiations.
(Ansel, your work on this topic continues to be outstanding and badly needed. Keep it up.)
As it is, I hope my 911 calls go to King County Sheriff.
Where are the morally decent, non-corrupted Seattle cops? Are they being silenced or held at gunpoint by the kingpins in charge?