Comments

2
Thanks for such good reporting on this throughout.
3
It won't be over until her firing withstands appeals. I've seen way too many bad cops reinstated despite much worse actions than this to be happy with this nees.
4
* news
5
The union will of course appeal (that's what unions do) but how vigorously they defend her will be interesting to see. Do they really want to help her out, or will they essentially hang her out to dry? The good old boys will be very conflicted by this - she's a woman and a lesbian, after all - and the minority members of SPOG may be pretty hesitant to see their dues going to defend her.

But good on the city for firing her, even if they eventually have to take her back. They should do it more often. The more you can force the union to spend money defending bad cops, the more the rank-and-file will start to resent that, and the city has more money than the union, and can sit them out longer.
6
The union should take the POV that it's looking out for its members by letting obvious losers like this go. Whether or not the process was followed to the letter of the union contract is less material than the damage it will do to the union and the cops that remain to put effort into keeping her.

Probably not going to happen, but it would be nice to see SPOG play the long game.
7
Very disappointed in this part of the finding:

"I believe that reasonable minds could find, in the totality of the circumstances, that the stop was lawful."

No.
8
SPOG keeping it classy as always. Never met a bad apple they didn't like.
9
SPOG is definitely going to challenge this one. Their argument is going to be that since the chief overturned the sustained findings regarding the legality of the stop and the use of force, that the discipline imposed should fall short of termination.

Short of termination, the maximum discipline allowed is 30 days' suspension without pay (-- which, by the way, officers can satisfy by giving up accrued vacation days, per the SPOG contract, so they never actually see the loss of pay.)

Shandy "Mexican Piss" Cobane got 30 days' unpaid suspension for his outburst back in 2010. If SPOG can sell the argument that Whitlatch's misconduct was somehow less egregious than Cobane's, then the DRB might find termination to be inappropriate.
10
How can anybody defend Whitlatch after watching that video?
12
SPOG = protecting and serving themselves no matter what.
13
@10,

The thinking is, if Whitlatch really did see Wingate glaring and waving his club at her car, then she had what's called reasonable suspicion to stop him and see what was up with him. (I don't think Whitlatch actually saw that, because if she had, she probably would have stopped Wingate on the spot, rather than slowly cruising around the block for a minute.) And if the stop was legal, the thinking goes, then her going hands-on was legal too.

My amateur legal analysis is that O'Toole gave Whitlatch too much benefit of doubt. This is because even if Whitlatch did have reasonable suspicion to initiate the stop, the basis for her suspicion to continue the stop evaporated almost immediately. The moment it became clear that Wingate was lucid and not threatening, there was no more basis to suspect that he might be up to anything illegal, and continuing to detain him was no longer lawful after that point.

15
I hear Westlake Center is hiring.
17
Eh, just go get a job with some dumb private security firm guarding fenceposts. Probably be a bit of a pay cut, but less oversight and potentially even more opportunity to be an asshole.
18
Best quote from the decision:

Your inability to understand that the confrontational manner in which you handled a non-threatening situation undermines public confidence in the fairness of this Department, and leaves me convinced that a similar interaction with a member of the public will occur again should I permit you to continue working as a police officer.


So after 8+ complaints and 14 years, we've got this one bad officer terminated. Now can we move on to all the officers that lied and protected her? Maybe if we move fast enough, we can get them terminated before they reach retirement.
19
@5 --- and even if they do have to take her back, hopefully she will be so "famous" that decades from now, people will still be asking her if she's "the" Cynthia Whitlach.

@17 --- maybe professional rasslin'.
20
Unions are contractually obligated to defend members unless it is an offense where it has been mutually agreed that the infraction automatically results in termination. For example, if a person has a CDL and tests hot in a random drug test, there is no possibility for appeal.

How much energy they put into that defense can vary......
21
Notwithstanding the evidence against Officer Whitlach, Ron Smith, the head of SPOG, still maintains that O'Toole "caved under the enormous political pressure and made this decision." For some perspective, in New York last week, a police officer with a long history of civilian complaints tackled and arrested former tennis star James Blake in a case of mistaken identity. Notwithstanding, video of this incident, Patrick Lynch, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President stated, "We ... believe that placing this officer on modified duty is premature and unwarranted. No police officer should ever face punitive action before a complete review of the facts."

Quite clearly, like New York's Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President, Seattle's Police Officers Guild is an impediment to ensuring that police officers obey the law and are held accountable when they do not. Citizens and state legislatures need to begin confronting the idea that unionized police departments institutionalize resistance to any effort to hold police accountable for their unlawful actions, and that banning law enforcement unions is in the best interest of citizens.

22
Hardly makes any difference when this entire department is proven corrupt on every level as they defrauded the citizens of Seattrle for years and no one has been held accountable. They all received retroactive raises.

Nothing but a show by this failed police chief. Seattle continues to be helkd hostage by its police department and their union with the help of these dirty local politicians.

We are still barred from drug testing all of them too. What a disgrace.

Whitlatch will just get hired at another police department somewhere and continue her harrassment of the people. and in the end she admitted she didnt even see the man swing the golf club? This elderly man was put in a cage overnight!!!

Will your mother or father be next? We need a police offenders list and it should be circulated as widely as the sex offender list. They degenerates with badges are destroying peoples lives.
23
Wrong. But cities and municipalities do need to stop caring about offending unions. They're big boys and girls. They can take care of themselves.
24
Essential all she had to do was make a disingenuous half-apology and she'd still be employed protecting the good people of this town from sporty black seniors? Must be a psychopath with principles or dumb as a rock. Thanks for nothing - now if an old lady using a lacrosse stick to pick apples murders my family I'll know whom to blame for being shitty at lying as well as police work.
25
*who* fuck
26
Good, that means seatownr can hire Whitlatch to babysit.
27
Notice how everyone ( officials ) are chiming in (Agreeing ) about that Whitlach termination , except the union who is surgically attached to the city adjuster and says their collective bargaining agreement 6.xxx.23.7xxx ? ( legal immunity / impunity shield ) Sorry guys won't work . how about Whitlach other Arrest ? did she make a habit of profiling , harnessing others ? or was this an isolated case
28
Ding dong, the Whiplash is DEAD! ...good riddance to bad trash!
29
Catalina: you are spot on. The union is doing its required due diligence, and behaving properly. At the same time, offending the union isn't a bad thing. Unions are important and it is good that they exist, but they are not right all the time. They have responsibilities, whereas the employer more often has options.
30
@15 You beat me to the punch.
31
She enforced a made up law, "contempt of cop" again and again. For that, she should be fired.
32
So long, douche bag.
33
Hanoumatoi, here's the thing: I don't believe the SPOG can strike. So why doesn't the city play hardball with them? Fire officers when they do stuff like Whitlatch did, and when they appeal it, throw lawyers at them until it's too expensive for the organization to support?

I'll tell you why: The political structure of City government is afraid of offending labor and Democrats, even though labor members (what's left of them in the city population) and Democrats are diverse and intelligent enough to realize when a union is not acting in a responsible manner.

A generation ago, we had political leaders in Seattle who would take on unions when necessary (and by take on, I mean bargain aggresively and stand up to them - not try to destroy them. That's a creation of Reaganites who are too greedy or socially awkward to relate to people).

Look at the City Light strikes of the 70's. The city was (mostly) right, the IBEW was (mostly) wrong, and they evenutally came to the table and came to an agreement that corrected the problems and caused an attitude adjustment on the part of the union. That was because the Mayor (Royer) could relate to people and stand up for the city (Although he caused a big part of the problem by hiring Gordon Vickery to run City Light, which was one of the more boneheaded moves ever made by a Seattle politician, but that's another story)

But nowadays a union flexes its muscles, which is what it is supposed to do, and City Hall wets its pants. The real fault here is political leadership at the city, aided and abbetted by a dysfunctional human resources and labor relations culture.
35
Just another of a privileged white male in power abusing his power. This cis scum needs to be stopped!
36
Why exactly is it that a police union gets any say at all in whether an officer should be fired over misconduct in treatment of citizens?

I think if the union objects to such a firing, that all members should be fined for the misconduct of the union.

I have been in a construction trade union, doing BS work that endangered the safety of the users of the building you were building and/or risked the safety of other union members was not tolerated by shop stewards or journeymen. Why is the police union not leaning on these idiot cops who screw things up for other union members?
37
From reading this article, I imagined that Ofc. Whitlatch had acted grossly unprofessionally in the encounter. But then I watched the video....

When you're holding a weapon and a police officer contacts you, then asks you, "Can you please put down the [weapon,]" you should comply. It doesn't matter that the golf club is yours. It doesn't matter that you're 69 and some lady in her 30s is telling you what to do. And you don't get to claim ignorance that a golf club is a weapon. Anyone who's ever handled one knows that it is a potentially lethal weapon.

Ofc. Whitlatch's tone starts polite but then becomes more strained. Why does it become strained? Because her suspect repeatedly - 17 times - refuses to comply with a simple directive. Any reasonable person would have put down the golf club the first time he was asked. If you hold onto a weapon in the face of a police officer, out of pride, just indignation, or anything else, you should know that you are going to jail that day. Period.

We don't know whether Mr. Wingate made a threatening motion with the golf club. We weren't there. Ofc. Whitlatch has her own opinion, but she doesn't know either. But we rely on police officers' eyes and ears to establish probable cause. Even if Ofc. Whitlatch completely misinterpreted a harmless gesture, she had established probable cause and had the right to detain Mr. Wingate.

Ofc. Whitlatch is not out of a job today because of one detained suspect. She's out of a job for three reasons:

1) She espoused politically unpopular views over social media.
2) She dared to remain steadfast during her professional review, which the Chief saw as defiance of her authority.
3) The Chief knew that firing Ofc. Whitlatch would increase her personal popularity, and her appetite for weathering criticism disappeared when Whitlatch "talked back" during the process.

In the end, the only person who knows whether Mr. Wingate swung the club in Ofc. Whitlatch's direction is Mr. Wingate himself. But now, he's so heavily vested in his claim of injustice that his memory too is faulty. All I see and hear in the video is an officer trying to disarm a suspect while the suspect resists, not misconduct that should result in an officer being fired.
39
@38 She actually showed patience in repeatedly asking a man to drop a weapon so that they could chat.

I think that Whitlatch is going to get her firing reversed, and then the outrage patrol will have that to chew on.
41
That's a pretty ironic post, oh GermanSausage.
42
It's possible that making up a story about him swinging the golf club and then later admitting that didn't happen might have factored into the decision.

Please wait...

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