LAST SPRING, thanks to widespread allegations of corruption, an independent citizen panel -- including retired King County Superior Court Judge Charles V. Johnson and attorney Jenny Durkan -- listened to hours of testimony from citizens and officers about misbehavior in the department. When the panel released their findings on August 19, it concluded, somewhat anticlimactically, that allegations of corruption in the Seattle Police Department were not systemic.

However, the panel's report raised more questions than it answered, primarily because it did not refer to any of the specific evidence it used to reach its sweeping conclusion.

The Stranger sifted through hundreds of pages of that evidence to give readers a snapshot of what, exactly, officers had to say.

Chief Norm Stamper, who is retiring in the aftermath of the department's WTO conference blunders, got the harshest criticism. In turn, what the panel's investigation ultimately shows, is that whoever inherits the department from Stamper has a lot of fences to mend.

The excerpts below are taken directly from the panel's files, which include paraphrased summaries of cop testimony, along with direct comments from anonymous SPD officers. The accusations range from vice cops taking advantage of prostitutes to outright charges of racism.

According to some officers, the two-headed monster of racism and sexism is rampant in the police department. Some officers who testified have sued or filed complaints against the department for the mistreatment they believe they've received.

"There is a white, good-old-boy system in the SPD that is hard to detect outright. These people want to move up the ladder and they step on everyone, mostly minorities but other white men, too, to get there. Women don't file lawsuits [against the department] because once you do, you ruin your career."

"In 1996... eight women went to the Chief with complaints.... The Chief didn't listen. Instead, they were shuffled off to [CENSORED], who said she couldn't do anything until they got Federal grant money (for something -- nobody knows what)."

According to some, the sexism in the department isn't simply directed at female patrol officers, but also against female officers who have gained some authority.

"Several times N-4 went to Lt. [CENSORED] to tell him about what was happening to women (including her). Sgts. made derogatory comments to women in front of the squad, the male sergeants would generally harass and bully women, in particular they would interrupt N-4 while she was doing roll call.... N-4 went to Lt. [CENSORED] and said she wanted to work this out. Lt. [CENSORED] told her, 'You get out of here and stop bickering with my sergeants.' He buddied up with the other sergeants and left N-4 out of the loop."

"At roll call [CENSORED] would embarrass N-10 [who is black]. She had a time set aside in roll call where she would share personal views such as what her cats or her neighbors did, and she encouraged others in the group to do the same. If they didn't share she would badger them. Once, when no one wanted to share, she looked at N-10 and said, 'Well, we could talk about O.J.' This was right after the verdict had come in."

"Black officers told Stamper that they are investigated more frequently than white officers for minor infractions. Stamper told them he didn't know anything about it, and he would look into it. He came back 2-3 months later and said, 'You're right.' [Yet] nothing more was done, to [CENSORED]'s knowledge."

A lesbian cabal? We don't know how true this is, but it sure is interesting....

"In 1994 when N-2 was at the academy, [CENSORED] slapped her in training. A group of women talked to her about filing a complaint, N-2 stated that this group (of lesbians) wanted to get rid of [CENSORED] and they saw this as their chance.... N-2 did not want to file that complaint because she was new and was afraid for her job. But the complaint got filed. (N-2 says the 'group of lesbians reported the slapping to IIS [the Internal Investigations Services unit], then IIS called N-2 and had her come in.' The women [lesbians] said 'we're going to get this guy, you're a nail in his coffin.') The complaint came back unfounded.... N-2 was moved to the South Precinct, where at the first roll call the men dumped an entire box of sexual harassment pamphlets on her desk and said, 'This is where this shit belongs.'"

Both Stamper and his Internal Investigations Services unit got trashed during the panel's anonymous interviews. Stamper is accused of being only interested in P.R. and not in doing any hands-on management, an allegation that the WTO conference experience confirmed, in cops' eyes.

"The Chief doesn't talk to the [department's 14 commanders], only to the 'in' crowd. You don't feel valued by Stamper. He doesn't listen, doesn't communicate. If he disagrees with a person, he doesn't communicate with that person."

"The Chief has nothing to do with discipline, and that is also a problem. Before Stamper, the Chief reviewed everything (from IIS)."

More pointedly, numerous officers complained of a system of arbitrary favoritism in the department, an "A" and a "B" list that creates an undercurrent of internal tension.

"No one knows what behavior will put you on the A list instead of B list. The way to be on the A list is to screw someone on the B list. There is a reward system if you get the B list people into trouble."

As for IIS, cops' opinions varied. Some thought it investigated too much. Others thought it was ineffective. Certainly, no cop wanted to be assigned to it, and they gave the assignment as much respect as afternoon traffic duty.

"IIS has traditionally enjoyed a poor reputation, known colloquially as a 'dumping ground,' certainly not a place where someone could advance his/her career.... It was rumored that [CENSORED] had been transferred there as a punishment for accusing Chief Stamper of 'McCarthyism.'"

Citizen review or not? Officers weigh in, and their answers are far more varied than the Police Officers Guild would have us believe.

"A lot of officers want a citizen review instead of internal investigation. There is favoritism, the good-old-boy system, cover-ups, and the code of silence that makes internal investigations ineffective."

"A citizen's review board is not the answer. You need investigators to investigate this kind of activity, not some group of citizens. It wouldn't be effective. You still have to get to [the] bottom of cops covering up for cops. You have to find a way for cops to trust the system."

"N-14 said [citizen review] is not a solution, but if it puts the community at ease it's okay...."

Finally, we have those special little stories that endear the police department to our citizenry. Here are a few:

"[N-5 says] SPD officers may write 'AH' on the back of a [citizen complaint]. It means that the person ticketed is an asshole; the complaint/complainant is viewed as an asshole and won't be given attention."

"N-6 doesn't see corruption on the force. He said there is the odd vice cop getting sex from a hooker instead of arresting her, but nothing much more than that."

"[CENSORED] said in 1995, two girls were arrested for possession. The officer testified that he stopped the girls and found drugs in one girl's backpack.... The child testified that she did in fact have drugs, but they weren't where the [officer] said they were. The child didn't have to take the stand, but she wanted to tell the judge that the drugs were in her vagina, and the officer put his hands down her pants and in her vagina and found the drugs there.

"A second officer appeared on the scene about 10 minutes after the officer found the drugs. She was a female officer. [CENSORED] would have the police report and the identities of the officers and the other girl. The girls told the female officer what the male officer had done, and she reportedly said that he does that all the time."

"[CENSORED] was present on a raid of a call-girl service a couple of years ago. During the raid, a rolodex was discovered, listing names of clients of the service. A high-ranking police officer seized the rolodex and it has since disappeared. It was never entered into the evidence log."

In response to public outrage over the suspect IIS unit, the city council recently passed two police oversight ordinances. One ordinance gave a green light to Mayor Schell's proposal for a "civilian" review panel. The mayor's plan is a lemon, because the civilians must report to the police chief. The second oversight ordinance gives the green light to a citizen "review board." The board's power, however, isn't clear.

Support The Stranger