Comments

2
she's wearing her service pistol in a press conference?
3
Has O'Toole gotten rid of any bad apples who were not a PR nightmare (i.e., anyone other than Whitlatch)?
4
@2: She's in uniform. SPD rules are that if you're in uniform, you're armed.
5
Ansel, "loath" is an adjective, and "loathe" is a verb. They are not interchangeable.
6
Firstly, the Police should not be unionized. Secondly, shut them down. Unions are too powerful and compete with the will and the needs of the people. Our government is the will of the people. The Police are not private workers, they work for us. Supposedly.
7
@6: I am no fan of SPOG, but that same argument could be used against any public sector unions. The problem is not with unions in general, it is that SPOG (like many other police guilds) is run by the most in-your-face, aggro folks in the department. The kind of folks who get into gunfights in biker bars.
8
@5: THANK YOU.
9
Keep in mind, this is the same group that fought tooth and nail against DoJ recommendations to end the culture of abuse and intimidation that the FBI found in an investigation a few years ago. This is the same group that tried to sue the federal government, claiming that mandated improvements violated the civil rights of of the cops.

Sure, "a few bad apples." But a few bad apples have turned the whole SPD into a rotting, corrupt cesspool. If the alleged good apples cannot keep their comrades in check, then the good apples are just bad apples who refuse to admit what they are.
10
This is something that seems to happen in police departments - admittedly, this is a view from the outside: I don't really KNOW from experience, but it SEEMS as though there are often only a handful of bad cops in a department, but there are a whole lot of cops who won't snitch on the bad ones. It's not so much a culture of lawlessness, but a culture of tolerating lawlessness, and maybe that's what needs to change. I'm a union teacher, and believe me, that same dynamic does not happen in my workplace: good teachers DESPISE crappy teachers, and certainly don't go out of their way to protect them. This is a problem peculiar to the police, not to public sector unions in general, IMO.
11
@10:

Any cop who willingly tolerates the bad behavior of their colleagues is, by definition, a "bad cop".
12
@10 It's called Aiding and Abetting, and the punishment is the same as if you've done the crime yourself.
13
@10, totally agree.

I've been in a couple of unions in my past. Part of a union's job is to protect members from unwarranted firings and layoffs. Fine. Great. That is a needed check against the power of large corporations or the government.

But SPOG goes too far when they knowingly protect abusive cops that have no business being cops. They need to find a way to properly protect good cops while allowing a reasonable system to weed out bad cops. There are bad employees in any large company or organization, but cops have the power of life and death, the power to ruin people's lives, and there is no justification for protecting bad cops.
14
^^^^Such a reasonable discussion. Thank you. (I guess the trolls are napping).
15
Cops are a paramilitary organization and as such their union regards anyone who's not a cop as an enemy to be metaphorically fired upon. I'm sure SPOG would like to more than metaphorically fire upon its critics.

Sometimes it's difficult to keep disliking Burgess. But then he reverts to type, as I'm sure he soon will.
16
Of course Chief O'Toole refused to condemn SPOG's rhetoric. She and Murray will do whatever it takes to protect rogue SPD officers from being held accountable to the public when they commit crimes. SPD officers will continue to evade responsibility for brutal beatings and even murder because Ed Murray has no intention of holding SPD accountable to the public. Please remember this in the next mayoral election, and in the meantime, #CallOutMurray for allowing rotten apples to stay in the barrel.
17
I think there is a petition in the works for the legislature to delete the wording "malicious intent" in whatever statute it's in. It's almost impossible to determine that a cop shot someone with malice, and that's why the prosecutor doesn't charge them. Ian Birk was allowed to simply quit his job because of that statute.
18
Let's see. When I lived a block from the West Precinct station, I witnessed its officers regularly break the law, including bike officer who ran red lights, hitting me twice and a number of near misses. I also witnessed an incident of race-biased policing.

O'Tools said she's working towards more accountability and transparency in the SPD. So I sent letters reporting these problems to Chief O'Toole and Mayor Murray. Repeatedly. Never heard from the Mayor or his office at all. The 3rd and 4th time my letters to O'Toole were delivered with the help of Tim Burgess' office. Finally got what amounted to a non-response response from her office. Things like asking me to let them know if I have any questions and then ignoring all the questions. No investigation, no action.

I separately reported the West Precinct police officer incidents to precinct Capt. Chris Fowler. Three times. No response. No investigation. The incidents I saw involving West Precinct officers actually became more frequent.

SPD policy has requirements for handling citizen reports of bad or illegal officer conduct (5.002 #5) and for reporting incidents of race-biased policing (5.140). So I filed OPA complaints against O'Toole and Fowler following guidance that I had actually received from the SPD earlier in the year.

OPA policy repeatedly stresses the importance of intake interviews for complaints. No intake interviews for either complaint were conducted. Was never contacted by OPA investigators. Dir. Pierce Murphy's OPA ignored its own process in response to complaints against these senior department officials.

OPA's eventual response to the Fowler complaint never even mentioned Fowler or my complaint against him. After not hearing anything for weeks about the O'Toole complaint I inquired. Pierce Murphy called my complaints against O'Toole and Fowler customer service complaints and thus outside OPA's scope - this at the same time OPA was wrapping up its investigation of long-gone former Assistant Chief Nick Metz for failing to report an incident of race-biased policing.

I got Seattle Department of Human Resources involved (SDHR handles complaints involving the OPA director). Director Susan Coskey didn't dispute my facts but then said she wouldn't investigate further. She ignored my subsequent questions, instead referring me to Pierce Murphy, who officially was the subject of her investigation here.

Among the questions I asked in an email sent to both Coskey and Murphy was whether the race-biased policing incident I reported was indeed race-biased policing, and if so did Chief O'Toole report it as per SPD policy? To date, neither Coskey nor Murphy has answered these questions.

So now Mayor Murray and Chief O'Toole once again go before the cameras for a little PR. This the mayor who's made no progress in cleaning up this mess and who repeatedly ignores citizen complaints of police officers breaking the law and demonstrating race-bias in policing.

O'Toole says, "Those people, we need to hold them accountable". Well, duh! Now if only we had a mayor, police chief and West Precinct captain who actually did so when a citizen makes an effort to report incidents of policy violations or illegal police conduct.

I've got a set of SPD policy violation complaints against senior department officials that OPA has chosen to ignore. SPOG thinks OPA is a bit biased? I'd tend to agree, given my OPA and SDHR experience. But my complaints to Murray, O'Toole and Fowler started with the conduct of officers on the street, and SPOG further inflicts its own wounds with racist rants and other behavior.

There's not a single thing about the SPD, how it's run or how its employees are held accountable from senior management on down that is working here. What a freakin' mess.
19
this is awesome content ansel, thank you!
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As far as I know, SPOG is not a union. As far as I can tell, Officers Guilds are notoriously reactionary. They seem to exist in order to keep the rotten apples in the barrel.
21
Thank you, Ansel, for yet another excellent article. I pray for the end of violence, senseless deaths, and hatred---locally, regionally, nationally, globally. Right now I feel numb.

@14 Sandiai: Sssshhhh! Let's not wake up the trolls (perish the thought)! Like you aptly pointed out, this is reasonable discussion.
@20 Richard Wells: So the SPOG is basically the NRA of the SPD?
Can we oust the SPOG as well as the rotten apples?
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@20:

Any body or organization that collectively represents workers for the purpose of negotiating with an employer for wages and working conditions, is, by definition, a union.
23
Awesome work Ansel, and I agree, great commentary.
24
This opens up a tangent issue: where are the right-wingnuts who constantly try to demonize workers unions and think "union busting" was the subject of the Sermon on the Mount? Now that it is a police union under discussion, one that ostensibly lines up with wingnut fantasies, they fall silent. Shouldn't they be banging the anti-union gong loudly at the SPD?

Please wait...

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