FBI Is Now Involved in Review of Officer Cynthia Whitlatch, at SPD's Request


I love watching this whole thing unfold.
It just keeps getting better!
If an accountable third party agency (FBI) recommends firing a SPD officer can they just do it, please. The DoJ thing is toothless. Reform will not come if traditional process gets in the way.
I don't get why so many people think this is the big break we needed to reform the SPD. So what if you get to kick big bad Cynthia to the curb? Cynthia isn't some freak SPD cop. She's the salt of the earth to them. They love her. She's one of them.

Nobody has the slightest inkling how they'd fire the whole police force, even if they realized they needed to. So we can Cynthia and then walk away knowing the police force is exactly like her. Great.

Now what?
If we tar, feather and fire Whitlatch, fine; she made that bed.

Maybe her downfall is an early positive result of the beginnings of an SPD cultural shift--forced by Seattle citizens and DOJ.

Celebrating the ouster of one bully--and a low-hanging fruit of a bully at that--shouldn't interrupt our vigilance, however.

I reflect on this, too recent, 6-second warning till death and think . . . shit, there's a long way to go.

FBI--sounds serious! Bet they make a whole bunch of recommendations (that they themselves are powerless to enforce).

So there's a go-along-to-get-along chief who has to keep running around to get back in front of the parade when it suddenly starts marching in another direction; a "court-appointed monitor" (what's his name? Bobbert Murk? something like that) who files bland reports and bills every now and then; an openly belligerent union; a couple of good and civil but guarded spokespersons; and a handful of officers you might actually be comfortable to have interacting with your mischievous teenager.

What to do? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
@7: Well put. I don't know what we should do. I'd love to hear what ideas others have.

I do think public staff who have the extraordinary authority to harm people on the job and to lock people in cages should operate under extreme scrutiny. And everything we hear from our police needs to be met with extreme skepticism. They have earned our distrust. The good cops will need to understand that our skepticism is grounded in reason and based on their coworkers' actions.
@5 She did steal drugs once.
What if we had police conduct know-your-rights training for the public? They would stand before us and tell us that we don't have to talk to them, and that we shouldn't do so, because their job is to build a case against us, and anything we say will be used for that purpose. They would tell us to ask if we're free to go, then walk away if we are. They would teach avoidance of accidentally consenting to search. They would explain the idea of lawful orders, and tell us that we don't have to do whatever they say just because they're cops.
Through my work I've had many interactions with SPD in some tense situations. The officers I've worked with have all been kind, sensitive, and professional. For this reason I'm mostly willing to give police officers in Seattle the benefit of the doubt. But fuck, it sure seems like there's some bad seeds out there. Weed them out. Though I still think the majority are great.
@11: The ones I've met, when they're not investigating me or policing protests, mostly if not all seem like nice people.

The majority may be great. If so, though, the majority are providing cover for the abusive minority. When good cops stand up and do something about bad cops, they'll deserve our respect. Until then, I have to assume they're on board with the abuse.
This controversy sounds almost as slimy as when The Stranger fired music writer Dave Segal all those years ago.
@7: How about a community-based review of all previous OPA investigations? Our power would be limited to name-and-shame, but that's something, and it's more than OPA usually accomplish. SPD supervisors don't seem to be looking for patterns of misconduct allegations in case those indicate patterns of misconduct, so we should do it for them. We might get more of SPD's demonstrated liars onto area prosecutors' Brady lists, somewhat limiting the damage they can do to the public.

An organization I'm part of has an open PRA request with SPD for copies of all OPA investigative files, and once we figure out how to manage it, we're going to need help sifting through the data.
@3: If the union gets involved the answer is likely no.

How 'bout just firing her?

Is this the same officer w the pepper spray? if so why isn't that being mentioned?
@17: Highly unlikely. Bike squads seem to be specialized. The cop shooting pepper spray like a lawn sprinkler on MLK Day was on bike patrol. Whitlatch drives a car.
17: It's not being mentioned because it's not even remotely the same person.
I get so tired of everyone hiding behind the union when it comes to bad employees. It's entirely possible to fire a union employee - you just need management that knows the contracts and the work rules, and will take the time to go through the process.

The SPOG is a piece of work, but they aren't the only bad actors in this situation.
Curious, could the FBI bring actual charges against her? Abuse of power, evidence theft, etc? It would be nice if there were some potential consequences to such behavior by the police that were harsher than desk duty.
@20, I take it those bad actors include the OPA investigators, Holmes, O'Toole, and Murray.

If even a few of the really bad apples are fired, it essentially breaks the wall of "solidarity uber alles" that SPOG has managed to maintain for decades. The reason many officers act like this is because they know they CAN, with impunity, safe in the assurance that SPOG - and their fellow officers - will have their back, no matter what. OTOH, knowing the union can no longer protect officers who consistently display such unacceptable behavior from the consequences of their actions puts ALL officers on-notice that any one of them could be next, which in turn SHOULD result in better behavior on their part. We can't change the mind of a bigot, but we can at least instill enough fear of losing their job & prestige to compel them into correcting their behavior while on-duty. And in the long run, that may have enough overall impact to begin shifting the cultural "us versus them" mentality that seems to be rife within the Department.

It's certainly no silver bullet to be sure, but it would have the effect of tipping the balance of power away from SPOG, hopefully resulting in a much more balanced dynamic of power between the Guild and the City, which is rightfully where labor-management relationships should be.
Holmes and Murray are elected officials. They're easy to get rid of - if the outraged vote. If they don't, you can be as mad as you want, and nobody will care.

O'Toole serves at the whim of the Mayor and Council.

I wonder if MIke McGinn would ever want to run for city attorney.
Here's Fox 13's report, which includes Mr. Wingate being interviewed.


(Has James Lynch mocked Mr. Wingate for crying like a little girl yet, by the way?)
While I think Whitlatch should be held accountable, and I'm glad to see movement on this, I'm also kind of interested, in a Charles Mudede kind of way, in how it's so easy for them to pick a double-minority police officer to pay the piper.
@22: I assume Catalina mean to refer to the general situation surrounding our city's police department.

Here's a list of bad actors surrounding Whitlatch, in particular (cross-posted):

  • Benjamin E. Archer #6938, who provided backup at the time of the incident

  • Chris Coles #6940, who wrote the incident report

  • Joe L. Lam #4767, who screened the arrest and approved the incident report

  • Lam's supervisor, who undoubtedly knows that Lam allows his subordinates to engage in fraud and abuse

  • All other SPD employees who have supervised Whitlatch, particularly he or she who allowed Whitlatch to train other cops for 13 years

  • All other partners who observed Whitlatch's on-the-job behavior, such as the one who stood by while she harassed the Metro bus driver who asked her to move her car from the bus lane

  • The OPA investigators who reviewed complaints about the Wingate incident, the complaint about Whitlatch's racist publications, and any other complaints about Whitlatch, resulting in completely ineffective outcomes

  • Those staff who, upon finding this shitstorm brewing a couple days ago, seemingly neglected to present O'Toole with a complete history of Whitlatch's employment history, complaints, and investigations.

  • Kathleen O'Toole, who neglected to demand the aforementioned history of Whitlatch

  • Mayor Ed Murray, who stepped into office and kicked some of SPD's best people to the curb simply because they were associated with former Mayor Mike McGinn, and who appointed a former SPOG vice president as interim chief

  • Murray's advisers on police matters, who like Murray, apparently know and/or care more about playing politics than about the internal workings of our police department

@27, Breadandcirce wrote, "I'm also kind of interested [...] in how it's so easy for them to pick a double-minority police officer to pay the piper."

SPD didn't pick anybody to pay anything. They knew about the Wingate incident since last summer. Middle-management officially learned of it last October. Only three days ago did SPD take action (besides, of course, locking Wingate in a cage overnight and tarring him with a report of attempting to assault a police officer): verbal apology to the victim (but not by any of the multiple SPD staff involved in the related misconduct), return of his unjustly seized property to him, and "counseling" for Whitlatch. They knew about Whitlatch's racist attitude and willingness to publicly express it since Brian Davis reported it to OPA. OPA's response to that, straight from director Pierce Murphy, was to have her manager tell her to keep quiet about her racism: "Her chain of command was directed to talk with her and to remind her of the importance of using discretion when representing herself," said Murphy.

SPD chose to take no substantive action until bad PR came knocking.

"Double-minority" police officer Whitlatch is now in the hot seat because her racial minority victim William Wingate took a stand, and because we have press who are willing to report on individual and systemic police misconduct. (Thanks, Ansel. May you never find the need to request from SPD the services for which we pay them or meet any of them alone in a dark alley.) Mr. Wingate, those who supported him, others who since came forward with their stories, and Ansel, all deserve credit for finally getting this powder keg off the street.

O'Toole and Murray are simply following those people's lead and doing damage control.

I think share your general concern, though. Most of the abusive cops on our city's payroll are likely straight white men. Someone, please help Ansel or other reporters force O'Toole to deal with one of those guys next.
While the FBI is in town they should investigate the ginned up consultant report regarding the condition of the housing In Yesler Terrace that concluded that the only option was to sell the property and move all the po' folk off the hill and move the rich folk in
Hey Ansel - if #31 is correct, I would really love to read an investigative feature on that one....
You know you in trouble when the comments on Fox News' website favor the black guy over the white cop.
Oh, I know they didn't ACTUALLY pick her. It just occurred to me when I saw in another thread someone saying that it was obvious that such behavior would get her fired, and someone reminded that commenter that Shandy Cobane didn't get fired for the "Mexican piss" beating. And I just thought, well, now they have a sacrificial lamb.
One step at a time.
Being a minority, double or otherwise, does not give you a free pass for shit like this.