What Two Programmers Have Revealed So Far About Seattle Police Officers Who Are Still in Uniform

Using Public Disclosure Laws, Eric Rachner and Phil Mocek Have Found Troubling Trends in Police Accountability

Comments

1
There's much, much, more to tell. I hope this story sparks some interest.

That 2010 incident, with two cops making derisive comments about black people and joking about beating people? They arrived on the scene and then beat those black people. It happens off-camera, of course, but you can hear it. And the man on the hood of the car--the one person on camera during the beatings--can see it. You can see him seeing it. You can see him there, knowing he can't do a damned thing about those other people being beaten, because those guys with the guns and batons and the qualified immunity and the unwavering benefit of the doubt hold all the power in that situation. It's deeply disturbing if you have an empathic bone in your body. Ansel, Eric, and I watched that video Saturday afternoon. I hadn't seen that one previously, and I'm still upset by it. Knowing little about now newspapers work, I was anticipating more detail in this story. I figured that cop was going to be suspended and at risk of losing his job by the end of this week. Maybe next time. I hope he's reading this.

This was not an isolated incident. That guy's partner knows what he does. His supervisor knows what he does. Multiple OPA investigators know what he does. We still pay him to do what he does, because the systems currently in place to identify and address such abuse are dysfunctional. You'd think management would keep statistics on problem staff, right? Pay some special attention to those bad apples and get rid of them before they spoil the bunch? Institute some get-your-shit-together-or-you're-out-of-here programs? They do not.

I know that there are people within the pit of corruption that is Seattle Police Department who want to do the right thing, but the right thing is not happening. I don't know what it will take to remedy this. I fear that if we show people what a charade SPD"s self-investigation system is by shedding light on the abuses that regularly occur at the hands of many SPD staff and on the systemic coverup of abuse that exists, people in Seattle will simply become numb to the abuses of police.

The City of Seattle wants to reap the benefits of "police reform" without paying any of the costs. Heads need to roll, but that is not happening.
2
It's tangential to this story, but to be clear: I did not cause any disturbance at ABQ, and the identification I intentionally lacked was not required. My polite and lawful assertion of my rights bothered some airport security guards, so they called in the local police, and they all conspired to frame me. They made a big scene, put me in jail, deleted from my camera the video recording I made of the incident, and made up a story. I was able to recover the video, which was the best evidence of what happened. In 2011, a jury saw through the lies the police told, and I was acquitted of all four charges against me. Later that year, I sued for civil rights violations. In March of this year, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on dismissal of that case.

Police lie regularly. The honest ones regularly stand by and provide cover for the liars. Lying is part of their jobs, and they're trained to do it. It's ingrained in their culture. As with other forms of police misconduct, partners observe it, supervisors approve it, and if someone complains about it, internal investigators make the problem go away. Police regularly commit perjury in their written reports and when testifying on the witness stand. Perjury is serious crime for the rest of me, but it's day-to-day business for police. Prosecutors know it and judges know it.

There are, ostensibly, processes for holding police accountable for their misconduct, but as I--someone with the privilege and perseverance to engage in those processes--have learned through direct experience, the deck is stacked heavily in their favor.

Experiencing this first-hand was an eye-opener for me. It is important to our freedom that it change.
3
I would kick in some bucks for the cause if you put up a GoFundMe or Kickstarter.
4
I would also throw some money your way. You guys are doing great work.

Perhaps finding a way to let volunteers sign up to help sift through the stacks? Even with piles of money, two guys can only do so much.
5
"SPD has been a leader in government transparency..."

Transparency without accountability is useless.
6
Let us know when you figure out the crowdsourcing thing. I'm sure many of us would want to help.
7
"Editor's note: This story has been updated since it was originally published."

Updated how?
8
~ Our good, brave, honest police officers and agents with integrity deserve not only better training and standards, but leaders that lead by good example in their agencies for their officers to follow. It is up to the management to weed out the bad apples and when one of their own breaks the law or their own code of conduct or ethics, or even a mistake, it is their superiors that have to take responsibility and hold them accountable. The lives of all law enforcement officers are in their care. As are the lives of the public. People want the Truth.

~ Bad cops lie, falsify reports, plant evidence, use excessive force, flat out lie under oath in a court of law. And never even blink.

~ And good ones sometimes feel like they have to also and break their own code of ethics and conduct to cover for the bad ones. Or otherwise be labeled a rat and face retaliation. If any officer breaks the Law, Code of Conduct or Ethics, he should not be shielded by the Police Bill of Rights.

~ What is more concerning and a national security threat, is what the bad apples do off duty, or on duty but off camera...................?

~ Yes, polygraphs can be beat. Yes, the are inadmissable in court. Yes, they are only as good as the examiner. But if used as a tool to weed out the bad apples, and protect the good cops, maybe they would think twice before breaking the very laws they were sworn to uphold.

~ All Levels of Law Enforcement have for decades felt that the polygraph is a much needed and essencial part of the hiring process. Why not change Policy that Polygraphs and Psych Evals for new Hires expire every 5yrs? (Including applicants for higher ranking positions)


~ National Institute of Ethics: Police Code of Silence - Facts Revealed http://www.aele.org/loscode2000.html

~ Police Corruption and Misconduct legal definition http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionar…...

~ National Instititute of Justice: Police Discipline: A Case for Change http://www.nij.gov/publications/pages/pu…...

~ The Cato Institute's National Police Misconduct Reporting Project http://www.policemisconduct.net/

~ Police Misconduct and 'Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights' Laws | Cato @ Liberty http://www.cato.org/blog/police-miscondu…...

~ Center for Investigative Reporting ~ "Crossing the line: Corruption at the border" - http://bordercorruption.apps.cironline.o…

~ DoD: Random Lie-Detector Tests Increase Personnel Security https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/dod-rand…... ("the polygraph is the single most effective tool for finding information people were trying to hide.")

~ Federal, State and Local Governments (including police) are excluded from the Polygraph Act of 1988. http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/w…



~ Break the Code. Break the Culture.
9
~ Our good, brave, honest police officers and agents with integrity deserve not only better training and standards, but leaders that lead by good example in their agencies for their officers to follow. It is up to the management to weed out the bad apples and when one of their own breaks the law or their own code of conduct or ethics, or even a mistake, it is their superiors that have to take responsibility and hold them accountable. The lives of all law enforcement officers are in their care. As are the lives of the public. People want the Truth.

~ Bad cops lie, falsify reports, plant evidence, use excessive force, flat out lie under oath in a court of law. And never even blink.

~ And good ones sometimes feel like they have to also and break their own code of ethics and conduct to cover for the bad ones. Or otherwise be labeled a rat and face retaliation. If any officer breaks the Law, Code of Conduct or Ethics, he should not be shielded by the Police Bill of Rights.

~ What is more concerning and a national security threat, is what the bad apples do off duty, or on duty but off camera...................?

~ Yes, polygraphs can be beat. Yes, the are inadmissable in court. Yes, they are only as good as the examiner. But if used as a tool to weed out the bad apples, and protect the good cops, maybe they would think twice before breaking the very laws they were sworn to uphold.

~ All Levels of Law Enforcement have for decades felt that the polygraph is a much needed and essencial part of the hiring process. Why not change Policy that Polygraphs and Psych Evals for new Hires expire every 5yrs? (Including applicants for higher ranking positions)


~ National Institute of Ethics: Police Code of Silence - Facts Revealed http://www.aele.org/loscode2000.html

~ Police Corruption and Misconduct legal definition http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionar…...

~ National Instititute of Justice: Police Discipline: A Case for Change http://www.nij.gov/publications/pages/pu…...

~ The Cato Institute's National Police Misconduct Reporting Project http://www.policemisconduct.net/

~ Police Misconduct and 'Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights' Laws | Cato @ Liberty http://www.cato.org/blog/police-miscondu…...

~ Center for Investigative Reporting ~ "Crossing the line: Corruption at the border" - http://bordercorruption.apps.cironline.o…

~ DoD: Random Lie-Detector Tests Increase Personnel Security https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/dod-rand…... ("the polygraph is the single most effective tool for finding information people were trying to hide.")

~ Federal, State and Local Governments (including police) are excluded from the Polygraph Act of 1988. http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/w…



~ Break the Code. Break the Culture.
10
At one point Propublica used volunteers to sift data on political media purchases. It was somewhat redundant (several volunteers had to report the same data from the forms) to ensure quality. I'd imagine there are any number of people who would be willing to help.
12
What you guys should be looking for is a grantwriter. (Possibly while working on crowdsourcing efforts?) It's not unheard of for people to do that pro bono, or with deferred wages payable when the grants arrive. If I had the skills, I'd be contacting you right now.
13
It's important to note that there are people working within the system to improve things. The rate of change is agonizingly slow, but it is happening. We are, unfortunately, working through setbacks like Mayor Murray stepping into office like a bull in a china shop, replacing truly reform-minded Jim Pugel with a police guild crony as interim chief.

"Civilian oversight board" sounds good, but can someone point us to an example of one that works well? We need police to be evaluated in the context of community standards rather than their own standards, but that doesn't necessarily mean a bunch of volunteers with pitchforks. Having some police help with police investigations is good, because they are experts at investigating and because they know the dirty tricks cops sometimes use. Pierce Murphy, current head of OPA (replacement for rubber-stamper Kathryn Olson, is right now trying to get more non-police investigators on his staff. The man moved the OPA office out of police headq…. That says something. I don't think he's trying to fool us. Maybe he wants what we want and simply needs more political cover in order to accomplish it without risking getting flushed out when the next mayor comes along.

The data we at COP are looking at are several years old. We started with those older records, because if we don't get them, they'll be purged. I've no doubt that things are changing, and that we'll find more rational evaluation of misconduct evaluations once we work through the older cases and get to those that have been influenced by Pierce Murphy's leadership. But few people can see those changes, and I don't expect that they will be dramatic. People are not seeing cops fired at higher rates, and after decades of erosion of trust, we have little reason to believe that effective disciplinary measures short of termination exist.

14
We don't need to scrap what we have; we need to turn up the heat and to support those who are doing the right things. We need to pressure the the Mayor to listen to people who know what they're talking abo… instead of trying to score political points by going his own. We need City Council to do their job of providing oversight of police contract negotiations.

And while incremental change is made, and while we wait for the glacier of cop culture to change, we need to identify, publicize, and pay special attention to police who have a history of abusing people. That's the part I want to help with.
15
Crowdsource for this. Please.
16
Phil M, you are not a freedom rider sir...

Did you really not have an ID to board the plane...? I travel all the time and I prefer to give up my "privacy" so that I can be properly identifed...Common security measure and a reasonable tradeoff..

The TSA and police officers have bosses and rules and wives and kids to go home to just like the rest of us...Do you feel empowered making sure they have a crap day?
18
I did read it and watched the video...You definitely disturbed the peace...I wouldn't want to be in the airport or share a plane with you...

Also some dishonest people don't carry IDs...Some dishonest people carry fake IDs...TSA has the proper means to discern between a fake ID and a genuine one...Drive a car if you don't want to submit to the security procedures at the airport...That's your choice.

19
What is even more sickening is that the U.S. Justice Department doesn't give a fuck about any of this, and keeps pretending to impose police reform on city after city, with no results to show for it.
20
@19: see also: "Community Police Commission Politely Tells Media, US Attorney to Shove It" http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archive…
21
Where is the evidence that two officers "joked about beating [black people] up"? Ansel's separate post following up on that (link) quotes one of the cops saying, in isolation and not in any context suggesting violence, that "I got my flashlight on my hip and it's at just about the right angle to break a rib." The most likely meaning of that sentence is that the flashlight is sitting uncomfortably against THE COP's body, at an angle that could break THE COP's rib.

If that sentence is the sum of the evidence for Ansel's assertion, it strikes me as pure libel. No reasonable person would jump to the conclusion that the cop is joking about beating someone up. What would the angle on his hip even have to do with breaking someone else's rib if he were to wield the flashlight as a weapon? Ansel, do you care to explain the basis for your conclusion, aside from your own anti-cop animus?
22
@16 / @18...Jesus, what a lemming. What Rachner and Mocek are doing is a lot more mindful of what our founding fathers had in mind than the Patriot Act ever has, which you are obviously a big fan of. "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety" is a quote by Benjamin Franklin that sums it up nicely. 9/11 completely changed the landscape of personal freedoms in the United States and the self-empowered oppression of the Patriot Act has trickled down to local law enforcement to allow them to run amok as they see fit all in the cause of "your safety and security". Bullshit. What is going on here is public citizens are holding law enforcement who are paid with their tax dollars ACCOUNTABLE. It's a country BY the people and FOR the people and as such, we have every right to hold our government accountable. A true patriot would die defending that sacred franchise. If we don't we damn well deserve what we get. But hey, TomID2009...keep those blinders on and run for the cliff...without guys like these it ain't far away.
23
TomID2009, no one gives a damn about what you think. They're voluntarily busting their asses to keep us all safe from police brutality, and you have the nerve to start sh*t talking when really what you should be doing is thanking them.
24
While Seattle’s Office of Professional Accountability has done an excellent job at portraying itself as an independent office with a civilian director. That’s actually misleading, first the office is within the Seattle Police Department which kind of rules out the independent part. Secondly while The Director, Pierce Murphy is a civilian the other 5 to 7 people are all police officers. Yes, the Office whose mission is to “Provide for civilian oversight of the complaint process; to promote public awareness of and full access to that process; and to advance accountability within the Seattle Police Department.” Is also the same officer where “Experienced Detective Sergeants conduct the investigations.”

Perhaps this why almost zero complaints are found in favor of the complainant. Think about that for a second. Which brings us to Officer Cynthia Whitlatch who on or about Feb 4, 2015 was placed on paid administrative after the dash-cam video of her arresting William Wingate for no apparent reason as he walked through Capitol Hill on a sunny day holding a golf club, went viral. What many don’t know is that this incident happened the previous summer and at that time Officer Whitlatch was cleared of any wrongdoing. This despite the fact that she perjured herself by claiming Mr. Wingate had swung the club at her. A claim which resulted in Mr. Wingate spending his first night in jail at the age of 69. Equally important at no time did any of the other 4 officers question why a 69 year old retired veteran/civil servant would decide to swing a golf club at a police officer. Rather they rubber stamped her falsified report. And yet it gets worse in an act of lazy lawyering the City Attorney’s Office, charged Mr. Wingate based solely on Officer Whitlatch’s perjured police report.

As the organizer of “Golf Walk, Walking While Black,” I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Wingate and it was heartbreaking. As for Whitlatch well she’s still getting paid as the OPA continues their second “investigation,” now entering its third month.
25
@TomID2009 He did not decline to give up his ID when he was boarding a plane. He declined to give up his ID when they were asking for it because he was filming in a public area. It says right on the TSA.gov website that what he was doing was legal. And requesting someone's ID when they are not suspected of committing a crime is unlawful.

He did not disturb the peace. He was calmly doing something that was legal, and the "officers" of the TSA didn't like it and caused the scene. Had they left him alone, there would have been no disturbance. But when they confronted him he told them that he was complying with the rules, but that he would not comply w/their unlawful orders. He remained calm and respectful and he was met with a group of people who didn't know the law.
27
@25: From PHIL M's own post:

"and the identification I intentionally lacked was not required."

Of course ID is required to get on a plane...He wanted to make a scene (and he did) thus disturbing the peace of security and other passengers at the airport.
28
@TomID2009: To follow up on what wcpreston says @25: I happened to be at ABQ about 10 folks back from Phil when that incident went down. The video doesn't lie, Phil was completely calm, cool, collected, polite, and knowledgeable about his rights. The TSA staff and, later the Albuquerque police were basically the opposite. Certainly grossly un or misinformed about his (our) rights and the limits of their power.

Eric and Phil are to be commended for their work. And hopefully they can get funding to support it.
29
And, for what it's worth, you DON'T need an ID to fly:
http://blog.tsa.gov/2013/04/tsa-travel-t…
30
Good for them, these two gentlemen are demonstrating what's required to watch the watchers, a lot of hard work and diligence.
31
@29:

"You’ll be able to fly as long as you provide us with some information that will help us determine you are who you say you are. If you’re willing to provide some additional information, we have other means of substantiating your identity, such as using publicly available databases. If we can confirm your identity, you’ll be cleared to go through security, and you may or may not have to go through some additional screening."

I never heard him say he would be glad to verify his identity...The whole thing was a setup.
32
TomID2009, you're very confused. It is absolutely positively possible and allowed to fly without ID, otherwise hundreds of hungover groomsmen with lost wallets would be stranded in Las Vegas every day of the year.
33
Thank you so much for your work Mr. Rachner and Mr. Mocek. If you crowdsource I will pitch in. I disgusts me that I pay for these people to "protect" us. We the public who are supposed to be in charge should have more say on who we put in such a position of power.
34
Kudos to these two guys! We need more people like this who are actually willing to do real work for the community.
35
In the name of honesty and integrity, #21 deserves a repost:

Where is the evidence that two officers "joked about beating [black people] up"? Ansel's separate post following up on that (link) quotes one of the cops saying, in isolation and not in any context suggesting violence, that "I got my flashlight on my hip and it's at just about the right angle to break a rib." The most likely meaning of that sentence is that the flashlight is sitting uncomfortably against THE COP's body, at an angle that could break THE COP's rib.

If that sentence is the sum of the evidence for Ansel's assertion, it strikes me as pure libel. No reasonable person would jump to the conclusion that the cop is joking about beating someone up. What would the angle on his hip even have to do with breaking someone else's rib if he were to wield the flashlight as a weapon? Ansel, do you care to explain the basis for your conclusion, aside from your own anti-cop animus?
36
I really support what you guys are doing, and I'll pile on with the crowd funding.

But exposing this is just the beginning. Props to the Stranger for reporting it (will this make the daily?)

I'd be interested in how citizens can support this. a) in how we interact and document our interactions with police. b) how we pressure officials c) in reforms that change the concept of police rather than just removing "bad apples"

Reform idea: Mediator Responders. People that are trained in de-escalating a situation, trained with dealing with the mentally ill and chemically altered people. People that can go into a situation and not be perceived as enemies because they do not have guns or arrest people. I think we need fewer cops, not more.
37
TomID2009 @16 & @18. You are precisely the little robot LEOs want you to be. Benjamin Franklin said it in 1755 and it holds even more true today. "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Anonymity in travel is a fundamental liberty that has been stolen from us by those of your ilk. But, I suspect that you aren't intelligent to see your own folly.
38
@35, thanks for the repost. For the record, since apparently The Stranger's post-publication corrections policy does not require including a transparent statement of what was changed:
This article and the post I linked to have both been changed to remove the incendiary charge that cops "joked about beating [black people] up", after another commenter (on the other post) pointed out that the full sentence in the audio recording was "I got my flashlight on my hip, and it's just about the right angle to break a rib if we get into an accident."

Ansel's initial decision to print the unqualified assertion that the cops were joking about beating people up, based on less than careful review of the recording and a bizarre leap to judgment, does not lead me to trust that he is presenting other facts objectively. And Phil Mocek's immediate post (over here @2) defending that leap to judgment tells me all I need to know about whether the Center for Open Policing is concerned with uncovering the objective truth. Now I know to take COP's reports with full spoon of salt until someone (an unbiased observer, not a doe-eyed fanboy) does the hard work of separating truth from propaganda.
39
From one Kansas boy to another: Fuck the SPD.
40
@39: Kansas City, Missouri, actually, but it makes no difference from here.
41
Crowdfunding.

Hm.

Or, pass a law requiring all of these records be posted online.

Scrape(crawl) aforementioned records, then glean viable or pertinent data via keywords. String manipapulation.

Make noise.

That might get you an internship.
42
A small percentage of cops are bad but if I had to deal with the low life slugs that cops deal with daily I'd probably shoot myself. Funny how most videos start half way through the confrontation. Me and mine respect the laws and the officers that put their lives on the line daily, and guess what, we never have problems with them.
43
simple question after reading: What is "SPD"? (in Germany it's a large political party)
44
what is "SPD"?
45
I would certainly make a contribution, if my case against SPD could be added. The OPA states my dash cam video disappeared and they dismissed my investigation.
46
@22 @37 Appears you know how to use google but not how to discern facts...Educate yourself:

Ben Franklin quote was in a letter defending the authority of a legislature to govern in the interests of collective security. Almost the exact opposite of your take on it.
47
@43, Seattle Police Department.
48
@45: DinkorSink: OPA says dashboard camera went missing? E-mail phil at mocek dot org, please. Ansel would likely be interested as well.
50
This story is much more important than the recent headline naming the new Stranger music editor. Why is the police scandal not a screaming headline with a crowdsourcing appeal?