Inside the City's Negotiations with the Police Union

Documents Show Seattle's Progress, and Lack Thereof, on Accountability for Cops


Both Murray and SPOG need to go.
Congratulations to The Stranger. Great reporting with more than a superficial article on an important subject. After almost 40 years in Seattle, who would have thought The Stranger would outpace and outclass the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly on an investigative piece of journalism?

As for the City and the Mayor .... how pathetic that the SPD continues to operate with such impunity when the few rotten apples in the department are protected by a rotten (for the residents) union contract. This union contract and the result it spawns is what continues to erode and degrade the public's perception of unions (and it's not a positive perception).

Keep up the good work Ansel Herz and the rest of the team.

Thanks for reading.
I may not be a fan of SPOG, but my experience with OPA suggests a double standard applies when complaints are filed with the OPA against senior department officials.

I used to live near the West Precinct station on Virginia. One day I witnessed what I believe was race-biased policing. A police car on 7th was stopped at a red light at Virginia. A white man crossed Virginia against the light and the officer in the car did nothing. Seconds later a young black man crossed Virginia against the same red light. The officer got out of his car and confronted the black man.

Why confront the black man but ignore the white man? And why confront the black man at all when West Precinct officers themselves routinely ignore traffic laws along Virginia (among several such incidents, I've been hit twice hit by bike officers who ran red lights at Virginia when returning to the station).

I tried reporting the West Precinct officer behavior and this incident to Chief O'Toole four times before I got any response from her office. But her office didn't address my concerns, so I filed an OPA complaint against Chief O'Toole. SPD policy has requirements for how department employees should respond to citizen complaints of police officers breaking the law (5.002 #5) and of incidents of race bias-based policing (5.140).

No intake interview in spite of the fact that the OPA manual repeatedly emphasizes the importance of such interviews in their process. I was never contacted by an investigator. When I checked on the status of this complaint after several weeks of hearing nothing, OPA Director Pierce Murphy told me they considered it a customer service complaint and OPA doesn't investigate those. This at the same time OPA was concluding its investigation of long-gone Assistant Chief Nick Metz for failing to report an incident of race-biased policing, a violation of 5.140.

So I refiled the complaint, this time explicitly mapping the incidents to the specific policy violations, and I also complained about Murphy's handling of the original O'Toole complaint. Because OPA can't investigate Murphy, that fell to Seattle Department of Human Resources Director Susan Coskey. Although she said she didn't dispute my facts, she decided not to investigate further. Coskey then refused to answer any subsequent questions specific to my complaints, instead strangely suggesting that Murphy - the subject of her investigation - would. (Alas, he hasn't.)

Among the questions, of course, was whether what I observed was indeed regarded as race-biased policing, and if so did Chief O'Toole report it as required by 5.140? They're both pretty straightforward questions. But to date neither Susan Coskey nor Pierce Murphy has thought these questions were worth answering.

Supposedly the SPD policy manual applies to all SPD employees. But in my experience with OPA, OPA looks the other way when the complaints are filed against senior department officials. Perhaps SPOG has picked up on that.

Thank you, Stranger, and Ansel Herz, for this article. It was exactly what I was searching for -- any journalistic mention of how SPD reform efforts correspond with the Campaign Zero recommendations. Looks like we still have a long way to go.