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City of Seattle

December 21, 3:56 PM click here to comment > 46

Implementing police reforms

The people of Seattle deserve a police force that fights crime in a way that is fair and equitable. We deserve a police force that is well trained and accountable for its actions. We deserve a police force that is respectful and professional in all areas, and worthy of the community’s trust. Meeting these demands requires a police department that is continually learning and improving, willing and able to implement reforms.

That means we must listen to criticism from everyone with a stake in the success of the Seattle Police Department. We have heard from the public and now the federal government that more must be done. We agree. Let us be very clear: we are committed to reform.

This process of change cannot wait. This morning, I ordered Chief John Diaz to begin implementation of reforms outlined in the Department of Justice’s report. We will also convene a public review panel to oversee the implementation of these reforms.

Additionally, based on our ongoing collaboration with the Department of Justice, we have also adopted the following reforms:

• On January 4, we will implement a system of consistent supervision of patrol officers which, as the Department of Justice recognized, should improve accountability of our officers.
• We have created a new Professional Standards Section.
• We have implemented improvements to the way we investigate use of force incidents, including a new Force Review Board and a Force Investigative team.
• We are undertaking a top-to-bottom review and rewrite of the department’s Policies and Procedures.
• We are in the process of revising and simplifying the Office of Professional Accountability’s classification system.

Chief Diaz and I expect our police force to be a national model of professionalism and accountability – that earns the respect of the people as it protects our communities from crime. We stand ready to work with the community and the Department of Justice to ensure Seattle has that department.

Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn


Comment from Travis
Time December 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Until the Police are supervised by the people, and especially if allowed to continue to police themselves (badly, I might add), they will continue to protect themselves from investigation and prosecution.

I see you still aren’t creating the sort of real change that will turn this around. Police can’t be accountable to Police, they must be accountable and transparent all the way through; to the mayor to the city council, to the citizens. Most importantly; TO THE CITIZENS.

Comment from Linda Soriano
Time December 21, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Thank you, Mayor. I pray for you, Chief Diaz and all the others that carry the responsibility of making positive change happen in Seattle. I personally appreciate and respect that you can empower the Seattle Police Department to fulfill ALL that is expected from them, by everyone.

Comment from mohawk
Time December 21, 2011 at 4:43 pm

dear. mginn. you have to retrain them to get them better. they have become accostumed to way acted before. trying to change something without retraining them will result in resistance.

Comment from Juan Jose Bocanegra
Time December 21, 2011 at 4:51 pm

I have been a critic of the police department for years and it is refreshing to see the DOJ report and now a well deserved response on your part Mike. However I and El Comite are not just critics, we are members of this community and we stand ready to assist in making Seattle a safe place for everyone and we are committed to demilitarize the force and make it a civilian tool of service.

Comment from MasterP
Time December 21, 2011 at 4:56 pm

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comment from Richard Nix
Time December 21, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Advice: Take a lesson from California P.O.S.T. curriculum. If we don’t teach it to you here in the academy, and you do it out there in the street, you will someday have to face the consequences.

This system once taught and enforced, will eliminate upper body tackles (King County)… kicking, and the mag-lite from the sky, among other things.

Outlaw the “thumper gloves” and reassess the officers who are wearing them now. In my experience, the gloves are a sure sign of fear. Give these officers the training and confidence to overcome that fear and if they can not, then get them out of the patrol division.

Even when force is required, if properly trained, there is no reason to go outside the approved methods at any level from initial bodily contact to deadly force, which will stand up in court and under public scrutiny.

Most importantly listen for any grumbling and lose those officers because if they don’t want to become professional, they are clearly too dumb to realize it’s their pensions and lives the changes protect. They certainly don’t belong on the street wearing a gun.

Remember boys and girls, there is no statute of limitations on a violation of Constitutional rights. They may be guilty as sin, but if you cross the line they can come back at the end of your career and take everything you worked for… The frontline of officer safety is public relations and trust. Lose that and all is lost. Good Luck, God Bless and Happy Holidays.

Comment from Karin Link
Time December 21, 2011 at 8:14 pm

A very delicate situation. Thanks for taking a firm, but fair stand on this. My best to all involved.

Comment from Sheri Day
Time December 22, 2011 at 11:08 am

Thank you Mayor McGinn. We are heartened by your response to community requests that you publicly send a strong message that the findings of the DOJ be acted upon immediately by Chief Diaz. Both we as staff at AFSC and I, myself, as a community member and native Seattleite have worked toward police accountability for decades along with our partners and assure you that we are prepared to continue to organize in the community as well as making ourselves available to you to assist in ensuring Seattle is a safe and peaceful place for all its citizens and that militarization of the police is reduced and they serve as peace keepers.

Comment from michael norquest
Time December 22, 2011 at 12:21 pm

This morning, on Third Avenue, betweeen Pine and Pike at 10:00 I happened to be waiting for the bus on the east side of Third when I and the group who were waiting for one of the buses heading north out of downtown, were almost in the midst of an altercation between some African-American young males (who were not waiting for any bus, not then or even later) that were trashiing talking one another—the trash talking rapidly escalating.
I have lived in San Francisco, lived there until 11 years ago but have called Seattle home before that time and since. I know what the policy of the San Francisco Police Department is regarding public safety and the appearance, at least in the downtown shopping and tourist/convention areas—they won’t tolerate the nonsense that you see frequently on Third Avenue; the drug dealing, the petty crime and the threatening
attitude from some of the groups that gather there. I also know what The Tenderloin District of San Francisco is and actually lived in part of it when I first went to that city.
I know what street crime looks like; know the district is only blocks away from Union Square, but what happens in the Tenderloin stays there…what happens on Third Avenue spreads around downtown.
I know there are problems with the Seattle Police Department but I feel that they have been placed in a no win situation, when trying to maintain public order. I live downtown and thank God we have a police presence to keep some semblance of law and order. It would not take much to change the perception that downtown is not really safe…especially in this economic environment. I walk around downtown and see the empty store fronts and retail spaces.
Third Avenue needs to be cleaned up and for those who come into downtown with no other purpose other than to deal drugs and fence out merchandise—they need to be sent packing off city streets and sidewalks.

Comment from Marcos Martinez
Time December 22, 2011 at 3:00 pm

I’m glad to see our city’s leadership taking positive steps to implement DOJ recommendations.
My impression is that over the years our city has given away its management rights and that the police guild (though I strongly support organized labor) has too much power to resist reforms pertaining to oversight.

Comment from OccupadoTaco
Time December 22, 2011 at 3:06 pm

So does Occupy get invited to the accountability talks with the SPD? Considering that we’ve borne a significant brunt of SPD brutality and utter foolishness, it wouldn’t be out of place to extend an olive branch from the SPD to the Occupiers.

I’m also involved in helping take care of a court case involving the beating of a handicapped man (who was later “adopted” by Occupy Seattle and given work, shelter and food in our encampment) by three teenagers. I ran up and broke up the attempted mugging and sent two protesters to Westlake and City Hall to find SPD officers to arrest the teenagers stomping on the face of this homeless man. The Occupier who ran to Westlake reportedly found three SPD officers cracking jokes about harassing protesters and when she informed them a REAL CRIME had happened a block away, they dismissively told her to go away and went back to cracking jokes. The Occupier who ran to City Hall had a similar experience (this incident took place at 4th and Pine and can be looked up by the Mayor’s office as Incident # 2011-345544. The investigating detective is Detective John Crumb). I am sickened and disgusted by a police department who consistently puts overtime and the “bro system” over actually, you know, fighting crime.

Mayor McGinn, I really hope you actually mean your words and back up what you’re saying here. Because honestly, a LOT of people in Seattle are sick to death of the SPD making excuses and constantly pulling the “self-defense” card when it comes to the innocent beating of minorities and the poor.

The SPD’s refusal to prosecute Officer Birk for at least manslaughter remains something that will stay in the mind of the public here for at least a couple of decades.

Comment from cecil powell
Time December 22, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Thanks to the Great Spirit and Mayor McGuin! Now let’s work to train the officers to be polite initially, then they can ramp up as needed. Most everyone, even criminals, react better to being respectfully asked to comply. Let’s go back to speaking softly and carrying a big stick!

Comment from Michael Kaiser, JD.
Time December 22, 2011 at 5:45 pm

The entire matter in which this “investigation” was handled has been an extreme disappointment, and thus any Seattle City response can only manifest the incomplete and shallow Justice Department handling of the matter. To complete an investigation of this magnitude in less than a year clearly demonstrates the absolute lip-service that was ultimately given the matters-at-issue. One almost wonders if the “investigation” was done more to placate Michael McKay, ultimately for his personal private suit against city players, as much as get to the bottom of anything. I knew as soon as Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, announced the findings against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, almost only hours before the findings regarding the Seattle Police Department were made public, that indeed the Seattle matter was a distant second-thought to the parties-at-issue and was just being swept out the door at the same time as the Arizona investigation so that Mr. Perez and others could get on to other things considered by them to be more pressing.
The most pressing issue, and one barely even touched upon in Mayor McGinn’s “reforms,” should be a complete overhaul of the Office of the Professional Accountability (OPA). There may have been a time in which Kathryn Olson, Director of the OPA, brought something fresh to the table, but since then she has been subsumed by the culture and, in fact, it is quite arguable that she never had the strength, and arguably outside support, although the latter point is mute now, to effect any real change regardless. And the fact the city has allowed itself to be led around by the nose by the Police Union with regard to how accountable the police department can be held, and the manner in which such accountability can proceed, is, quite frankly, nauseating. I do many things in the legal community including teach ethics to lawyers, and the only thing more nauseating than the manner in which lawyers are allowed to “regulate” themselves is the manner in which police officers are allowed. And what makes it doubly funny, and tragic, is that we are purportedly a society based upon law, and the police and legal establishment are supposed to be the pillars of the foundation of such. But the sheep get what they deserve because the status quo has not been challenged in any sort of substantive way. Perhaps next century.

Comment from Brian King
Time December 22, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Thanks, Mike! My wife and I were delighted to see the newspaper stories this morning about your support for the federal report. One thing of particular interest to me is something the feds brought up. There seems to be an attitude among police in Seattle that if somebody talks back to a cop, they deserve to be tasered, sprayed, or have something bad happen to them. People have a right to speak up for themselves and the police should respect that right!

Comment from A. D. Knox
Time December 22, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Note to the Mayor, City Council, Police Officers Guild and police managers union: as police labor contracts are negotiated, keep in mind that unconstitutional use of “excessive force” is not negotiable. Period.

Comment from Tom Ballaard
Time December 22, 2011 at 6:56 pm

A start, but i fear you will cave into the police culture as other mayors have done. We don’t ask bridge builders to inspect themselves and the police should be no different. You might start by taking away one of their symbols of police arrogance, their Harley Davidson motorcycles. They are less efficient and more costly than the Japanese bikes they used to ride, but they chose them to feed their egos. They are a symbol of a police department that cares more for their culture than the people they are hired to protect. They chose to spend more public money to massage their egos (loud to them equals macho) – no wonder they feel free to taze pregnant women, mace old ladies, beat handcuffed teenagers, and shoot people of color without consequences.

Comment from Concerned Citizen
Time December 22, 2011 at 6:58 pm

You have an unrealistic view of what the police are there to do. The police can’t be there to acquiesce to the criminals. What your already flawed plan to correct another flawed plan will do will be to keep the police from doing anything that might jeopardize their jobs. How can you want a police officer to worry about how polite they are going to be? Is politeness really an attribute you want? I want a cop who is going to step in, take charge of ANY situation, and resolve it. I don’t care if they are polite about it or not. I don’t want the drug dealers, gang bangers, criminals, thugs, and other assorted trash of this city to get away with ANYTHING. We have a set of laws we are all expected to follow. They don’t follow the rules and yet you expect the police to follow EVERY rule there is already plus more you plan to implement or else they are punished. I’ve seen it happening already, cops sitting and not doing anything because, in my opinion, they are scared. Scared that if they say one wrong thing, offend one person, have one misstep, that they are going to be punished for it. I’m not against police accountability at all, but I am for CITIZEN accountability as well. Stop using the police as a scapegoat. I don’t want an angelic police force. They are cops, maybe you should start letting them act as such. This city is going to get the cops it wants, believe me, and then the city is going to want the cops it had.

Comment from A. D. Knox
Time December 22, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Note to the Mayor, City Council, Police Officers Guild, and police management union: keep in mind when labor contracts for police services are being renewed or renegotiated that use of unconstitutional (illegal) “excessive force” is not negotiable Period.

Comment from Robert
Time December 22, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Any review board(s) must be independent of the police force to be credible and effective. They need not have police or police representatives as part of the board(s) to advise and interpret issues, because in each incident, there will be police representatives to make those points in each incident. Board investigations should be open and public.

Reviews should be conducted according to standardized Root Cause Analysis (RCA) protocols, a methodology that applies to all industries and vocations, by people well trained in the science, not reading the Cliff Notes the night before. RCA differentiates between root causes and symptoms, and guides formulation of solutions to address the root cause in the long term, and address containment of the problem in the short term while those long term solutions are implemented. Solutions are drafted in terms that can be measured and tracked actively, notably to provide indications of trends and warning before matters reach a problem threshold.

Want to know more? You have my email address.

Comment from Carmela F
Time December 22, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Mr. Mayor, You do not support or stand behind our police officers. You allow Occupy protestors to walk all over this city and violate the law because it is peaceful. I’ve called SPD to thank them for their hard work and lack of support from you. I can quote from the officer, “The lack of support we receive from the mayor is what we get for defending the law under a liberal mayor.” Regardless of your political and protesting background Mr. Mayor, your lack of support for our police force is a shame. Why don’t you go out on the beat with them and see with your own two eyes if excessive force is being used, warranted, or just what the general public sees because of a few occupy protesters with camera phones that needed some pepper spray to remind them that they were violating the law.

Comment from Tim Arnot
Time December 22, 2011 at 9:49 pm

I agree with Michael Norquist. The police are put in a no-win situation. If anything police presence needs to increase and stop the open drug crime and loitering that seems to be tolerated currently. McGinn, please address the issues there. A great neighborhood and nightlife area is suffering due to a few miscreants!

Comment from Lorie Lucky
Time December 22, 2011 at 9:52 pm

The problems of the Seattle police started before Diaz became Police Chief and they have only accelerated since he’s been in office. I won’t vote for McGinn again in particular because of the (somewhat) unfair reputation that police on the beat have gotten through the actions of a few ruthless individuals. The failure of Mayor McGinn to fire Diaz after the “I’ll beat the Mexican piss out of you” cop wasn’t fired and similar complete lapses of conduct by the Seattle Police shows that the Police Guild leaders and Diaz are still in the driver’s seat, not the mayor.
In particular, Luke Burbank of KIRO Radio (and his girlfriend) witnessed some particularly aggressive and intimidating behavior on the part of a patrolman before Luke finally identified himself as a member of the press, after which the tone changed very substantially. This department is running amok, and the top brass are completely out of touch with good community policing. I will have no confidence in the SPD at all while Diaz is at the helm.

Comment from David Edman
Time December 22, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Dear Mr Mayor,

Change, Culture change, Real change starts at the top, with leaders that believe in the need for change and the means and method of change. Chief diaz has none of the above. He has spent 30 years at SPD. He is far to close to his command staff and the rank and file. He admits that himself in his comments yesterday. I do not believe that the change that the DOJ requests, and the citizens demand can be effectively implemented under Chief Diaz.
I Call upon you, our Mayor, to immediately relieve Chief Diaz of his duties and to begin a nationwide and earnest search for a new chief from outside the Seattle metropolitan area. This is the ONLY way that the changes necessary for the citizens to trust our police force can take place.

Comment from Diane Charmley
Time December 22, 2011 at 10:53 pm

So glad this is happening, I’ve been feeling sad/angry that I can not relax around SPD and worry I might be treated roughly just because they’ve had a bad day…

Comment from my
Time December 22, 2011 at 11:50 pm

Mayor McGuin, you are the best captain.

Comment from JRS Johnson
Time December 22, 2011 at 11:51 pm

I have lived in ‘North’ Seattle ~ 40 years. The
downtown area has always frightened me. As
a ‘VULNERABLE ADULT’ — it seems much
scarier now than it did, even 10 years ago.

If you, Mayor McGinn, do not back up what
you are saying [with more than ‘lip service’]
No matter what you, or ‘DOJ’, or the County
says: ALL will be lost.

Comment from Shanna Drew
Time December 23, 2011 at 1:42 am

I am a resident of Seattle and it was not long ago that I felt nothing but elitist satisfaction at living in such a civilized city where people are not arrested for misdemeanor possession of cannabis, crimes against persons are low and even the rate of physical escalations with police and use of deadly force by law enforcement are the very lowest in the nation. This is due to a number of positive factors, not the least of which being that the men and women of SPD are already some of the most well-trained, professional law enforcement officers in the world. My own personal experiences with SPD have been 100% professional and positive, so I am not someone who was looking to complain about my police here in Seattle AT ALL. I even had a highly valued friendship with an SPD officer who shall forever remain nameless because I do not mean to insult or embarrass him more than I already have in the course of our friendship. It is his reaction to my criticism of what took place while I was in Oakland, CA in October with the Occupy protesters that made me first realize that the people of Seattle are in real and present danger from our own police and now I am so severely concerned that I am taking the time to write this.

The very criticism of mine that my SPD friend was reacting to is highly relevant this week in Seattle. It happened to be of the military-style tactics and overwhelming and intimidating numbers the police employed in Oakland and the psychological effects throwing down such a gauntlet has on a peacefully assembled crowd. These have been observed in modern U.S. history from Kent State in 1970 to Seattle in 1993 and in fact, I reserved my harshest criticism for the way things escalated in Oakland between the people and their police for the city’s leaders, [< –TAKE NOTICE HERE, MAYOR MCGINN] because of their utter failure to recognize that the interests of the Occupiers *are* the interests of their constituents in every sense, for failing to engage the peaceful assemblers and show support for their Constitutionally-protected right to assemble and for failing to mediate a plan to help the peaceful assemblers make their assembly unquestionably lawful without interruption (by resolving any health or safety threat). I had also expressed that in my mind, nothing like Oakland would ever happen between Occupiers and our police here in Seattle because we learned so much from the WTO riots and our police are so well trained. My SPD friend’s reaction shocked me because of his anger, defensiveness and righteous, personal indignation at legitimate criticism of the actions of police officers in another state that almost no one could find defensible in any legal context. My friend’s definite position was that people should not break the law and that when they do, all bets are off because the police are there to stop them so that things don’t get *more* out of hand. My friend’s definite position was that the protesters “started it” because they were breaking the law, shouldn’t be there and were told that their assembly was unlawful and that they must disperse and because they threw glass bottles at the police (in full riot gear) first. My friend went on to describe media accounts of police activity in Oakland as wholly false and anti-police and made it clear that he thought I, too was a liar when I described the number of officers that I saw present in Oakland on October 25, 2011. My real alarm and cause for writing this now is that my friend was as condescending as I ever am when I’m right when he let me know that my idea that SPD isn’t going to crack down on the Occupy protesters or anyone else in Seattle in exactly the same way as the police in California have and using whatever [non-deadly, I hope!] force is necessary -was absurdly, ridiculously naïve. He then furthermore let me know that a civilian like me (I’m only a law student and resident of Seattle) has no business discussing how a police officer should do his job. My friend refused – and I do mean *refused* - to consider one of the U.S. Supreme Court defined elements which now governs EVERY determination of whether or not “excessive force” has been used [Graham v. Connor 1989] which is the “seriousness of the offense” the officer seeks to interrupt or prevent and the “immediate threat” that the complainant posed to the officer and/or the public at the time force was chosen as a tactic of control. My friend *would not* consider that the Occupiers in fact have an affirmative defense to the minor offenses of trespass and unlawful assembly of which they were suspected, or that maybe I was flirting with him. He then told me off about everything he could think of to accuse me of personally –twice- and never spoke to me again. This is a man who is in every aspect of his life, including street patrol (I believe), kind and gentle with a very easy going nature. He is always solid and steady and in control of his emotions… truly exactly the kind of man you want as a police officer – and even HE turned into someone I literally no longer know the minute I criticized police officers 1500 miles away in California! This leaves me with almost no hope that any SPD officer will ever accept any responsibility for violating anyone’s rights, or see themselves as responsible for even half of anything that happens once they are party to it, regardless of the duty and power they are charged with, or ever see themselves as members of this community (most officers don’t love our city half enough to live in it including my former friend) or even want to see themselves as anything other than contracted military law enforcers, unless some major changes are made in the education, oath, organizational structure and contractual obligations of our SPD. After my friend disowned me, the DOJ came out with their report and it did not escape anyone’s notice that the first voice to respond publicly was not my Mayor or my Chief of Police - it was the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild making a statement attempting to intimidate me and the rest of the citizens of Seattle as regards contract negotiations! If the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild wants to play hardball with the citizens of Seattle after everyone in the world is on notice that our rights are being violated, I would offer that the union leaders’ liability in obstructing justice and being a part of a conspiracy to violate the rights of the citizens of Seattle should be obvious and that those leaders should dispense advice to their members accordingly. Furthermore, no contract will be enforceable that is executed under duress or with the knowledge that its’ current provisions enable the continued, noticed violations of the citizens of Seattle’s constitutionally protected human rights. I hope that anyone who cares and wishes to communicate about the critical direction we take in organizing local law enforcement will be a part of Mayor McGinn’s January Town Hall meeting.

Comment from Michael Kaiser, JD.
Time December 23, 2011 at 6:11 am

In fact, I knew the extent to which Kathryn Olson had along ago given up an “independent” perspective when earlier this year she spoke to the press proactively in support of Chief Diaz and the “changes” he was bringing to the department overall. Diaz was someone she might have to investigate some day. You don’t make statements like that in her role. In fact, this was someone who should have already been on an “independent” person in her position’s radar screen with regard to his possible responses to various issues that were coming to light, including any issues that might have further come to light in the Justice Department investigation. In fact, my recollection of the time was that one of her purposes in making the comments was to, at least in part, forestall the Justice Department inquiry itself. No, this is someone who lost her “independence” and breath of fresh air a long time ago. Perhaps when, among other things, fitting in became more important to to her than her original mandate.

Comment from Larry
Time December 23, 2011 at 9:16 am

If you want real change, go be a Police Officer, if you can even pass the tests and meet the qualifications. After you are a Police Officer, go to work and deal with the same people you are defending and put your life at risk each day not knowing what or can happen to you at you job. It is easy to complain and criticize the Police Department until you have been one. There is far more complaining than there is Thank You, for the Police Department. If you put too many stipulations on and requirements for them, they might not or can’t respond to your emergency or problem next time when you need them the most.

Comment from John
Time December 23, 2011 at 10:36 am

Changing the ‘classification system’ used by the unaccountable Office of Professional Accountability should be a step taken after the structure of the oversight organization is corrected. If there had been effective oversight, the police force would already have motivation to fix its problems.

Enacting the remedies listed in the DoJ report is not a bad idea. If there were real leadership in correcting these problems, we would be working to reconstitute, empower and make accountable a civilian police oversight body. Calling it something other than the “Office of Professional Accountability” might be a good idea: “Public Safety Ombudsman?”

Comment from Tran S. Form
Time December 23, 2011 at 11:05 am

Let’s far exceed the Justice Department report, not just small changes but a transformation of SPD from top to bottom. Let’s thank Diaz for his service, and hire someone who stays positive and calm under fire (in other words, what Police are supposed to do, especially the Chief Voice of Seattle’s Best who needs to do this with excellence!)

Comment from Michael Dare
Time December 23, 2011 at 12:01 pm

There are members of the occupy movement who are out to deliberately provoke Seattle Police officers into overreacting. Turns out it’s not hard to do, and every time, the movement gets good publicity and the Police get bad. It takes a lot of personal strength to restrain oneself when someone in a Guy Fawkes mask is in your face calling you a pig. If I were a police officer, I’d want to punch them out too. What the police need to learn is that as soon as they react to such provocation, the provocateur has won. There’s a difference between a criminal act and someone using free speech to provoke violent reactions from authority. There are those who WANT to be pepper sprayed, who WANT to be abused, who WANT to be arrested. The media have shown them that’s the best way to get publicity. Officers need training in how to deal with deliberate taunting. They need the strength to bear it and the strength NOT to give the provokers what they’re asking for.

Comment from MICHAEL
Time December 23, 2011 at 12:39 pm

As someone who was the victim of police violence a year ago by North Precinct officers, I appreciate the steps being taken now. Nothing is more frightening than being afraid of those entrusted to protect you.

Comment from Diana Pozzi
Time December 23, 2011 at 12:55 pm

I appreciate the difficulty of the job the officers have. I agree that most are doing their job responsibly. However, I still don’t see any reference to my concerns about the awareness of the potential, permanent, damage that can be done by targeting suspects’ heads. Hitting, kicking & slamming their heads into objects–be they curbs, sidewalks, hoods of cars or the toe of their boot poses damage that many seem to be unaware of. While verbal slurs are offensive, unprofessional & uncalled for, they don’t pose quite the level of risk to a suspect that a potential head injury does. The color of that foot kicking a suspect is irrelivant. It can do the same level of damage, period.

As I’ve said many times in correspondence w/the Mayor & others, the officers on the street aren’t equipped to determine the level of damage w/a head injury. What may look like ‘nothing’ to them could actually be something life threatening that needs immediate treatment. When, even if there were neurologists or neurosurgeons on sight, a hospital visit would be necessary to determine the level of damage present, officers & detectives saying ‘walk it off’ after kicks to the head is just irresponsible. When they try to justify their actions by saying that the suspect refused medical attention, they also aren’t equipped to make a determination of the extent of potential damage. They could refuse medical attention, go home, go to bed & die because of failure to have basic medical attention. As we saw w/Christopher Harris, one of those misidentified suspects can go from being a lifelong taxpaying member of the community to a bedridden vegetable in a matter of minutes. So far, I haven’t seen or heard of any progress in the area of the police dept. or the Mayor’s office getting educated on these areas. They seem more concerned with p.r. than with the real, physical danger they can pose.

Comment from JackieF
Time December 23, 2011 at 1:28 pm

I respect what the others are saying against Seattle Police. I know the critics have their point.
But if the situation goes the other way around, when you get to a point wherein “I am right now,” you will understand and give considerations to the policemen’s actions. They are in “NO WIN” situations. Seattle right now is becoming a dangerous City to live. Hard core criminals roaming around to victimize people have no pity and heart. All I can say is “Thank you to the Seattle Policemen”. I know you are doing your best to search and bring the criminals to face justice for the violent attack and untimely death of my husband. I salute your professionalism. I know most of you are respectable and standing by your duties. God bless you in your daily endeavor, putting your lives out there rain or shine, 24/7 to protect the citizens is a serious business. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, although I am not, I am grieving deeply for the lost of my spouse.
The comment from ‘Concerned Citizen’ shown above is an eye opener. Believe me, if you become a victim of these criminals you would want to bestow the policemen all the needed support to do their jobs. Give them more power so our City will become a safer place to live. Let’s all wake up before it becomes too late.

Comment from Leticia Carol
Time December 23, 2011 at 9:28 pm

I think it was utterly facetious myself, the meaning of compassion was expressed in the FBI disclosure of guidelines to be given since all these incidences occurred AFTER A FACT of Police Fatalities. To wit and pun, it was almost ‘Halloween’ish(u all recall Officer Brenner fatality, the 4 officers in Tacoma attacked), so seeing these videos to me seemed to reflect: Human Dignity broken down in law officers, incidences with out-of-state individuals but all after a fact of high crime in those areas breaking out. ‘Williams’ incident(not to sound biased) as well since he was also Aleute Indian from Alaska??? Coincidentally, woman who had dinner w/him week prior to his death asked me what I thought(she is Aleute from Canada). I said “I dunno, but I do believe that Police have constitutional rights to use Brute force or even kill a criminal or suspect who resist arrest. Now, Feds are clarifying this, I feel better, however, perhaps the general public need to realize that truely, Police are human beings,and individuals should be(as they are now being so via TV media) understanding the other side of the coin where human integrity has broken down(and hearts) in professionals.

Comment from Leticia Carol
Time December 23, 2011 at 10:32 pm

On the issue of Police Brutality in Occupy Seattle, my perspective and viewpoint is:

These individuals had a right to protest but were not within the guidelines of ‘civil rights’ , rather, it appeared that the mob psychology applied and became criminal intent in inciting to riot (now slander and abuse when the ACLU typical pattern of a movie scenario called”Fate steps in to see them thru” even to suggest reforms, if that was the ‘relative’ intention). Now, one said elderly individual was cited as saying on the media that she “did not want to be the star of the incident”; however, few hours before, she sat next to me on the bus(she is neighbor in apt bldg I just moved to) chatting w/me about how she sympatized w/Occupy Seattle and was on her way to Mayors Office w/documents & complaints about prior police brutality incidences. So I am concluding her presence there was intentional, protesters(her included) were given directives and advised of the consequences, so they were acting within their guidelines. Her age should not be a factor since she is an admitted activist and needs to ‘realize’ the very reiteration of guidelines should be stated to the public and protesters of consequences when a mob becomes ‘uncivil’. After all, ACLU should expound on Civil Liberties and the infringements and about why they are now defending apparent criminal assaults by protesters?? Sounds fragmented and I agree with Mayor McGinn, that there is an issue of apparent provocation but also realize an underlying motivation. Do U see a breakdown in professional integrity???OMG! Next time, someone gets murdered,raped, beaten….Don’t cry wolf…what kind of reform can there be???Realize that our Police force has to uphold Puritanical Justice written by Christians???Do immigrants realize this when they are sworn in to become Americans? How many natural born citizens know how ‘Puritanical’ our justice system was based on..and oh, dear God, where do these lawyers from the ACLU get their degrees? Merry Xmas…even if I heard convoluted bigots venting for a change….to what???Start educating the general public to appreciate and understand the American Justice System and how it was structured to keep American a Civilization not a Zoo…Educate them to see where freedom ends with civil disobedience. Guidelines for ALL is good enough Justice and change…Americans know better, eh???

Comment from Michael Kaiser, JD.
Time December 23, 2011 at 10:56 pm

John puts forth the oldest threat in the book, “If you put too many stipulations on and requirements for [the police], they might not or can’t respond to your emergency or problem next time when you need them the most.” Then you fire the ones who will not do what they are required to do according to the rules put in place. There NEVER will be a substantive shortage, for any real period of time, of individuals qualified to be police officers. However, the threat that John puts forth has worked for centuries against the weak-kneed members of various populaces.

Comment from Richard Augastino
Time December 24, 2011 at 1:16 am

Personally, I have sent numerous kudos to the SPD and to you, Mayor McGinn, in reference to the SPD patrols at 3rd and Pike bus stop. The additional patrols are beginning to make the citizens and tourists feel more comfortable about using this bus stop.

However, in light of the latest DOJ report, I am disheartened to hear about the abuses performed by the Men and Women in Blue. Whenever I have called, they have been there, defending the citizens of Seattle.

From news reports, it appears that you and Chief Diaz have a difficult fight ahead in reference to the negotiations. My heart goes out to you both; however, it’s time to recognize the problem and deal with it. With the end of the Homeland Security budget, I’m sure you’re looking at cuts. I suggest cutting the Officers that are causing the problems, instead of protecting them.

To everyone who’ve posted above, please remember that the average Police Officer is there to protect us, as well as defend the laws of Seattle. Please, do not pool this negative report upon every Officer, as most are doing their best to protect us.

Comment from Kelly
Time December 24, 2011 at 3:41 pm

I am glad that this problem has a chance to be examined seriously. I would also like to echo the comments of Richard Nix, above, about training our peace officers. If we do not prepare our trainees for the real-life policing situations they will reckon with, then we cannot be surprised when they fail in high-pressure situations. The recent police violence directed at protesters is a perfect example of this. Somebody I know was recently tackled and injured by several Seattle City Police when she unwittingly stepped out of her cab into a crime scene. I will not even repeat the series of humiliations she suffered as the police strove to justify tackling and bloodying a 120-pound young woman with no criminal record, unannounced. If you had asked me a year ago if I thought our police were capable of some of these serious and systemic errors in judgement, I would have said no, but I would have been wrong. If our system of training and vetting police is broken, then that is what we must reform with the best data and resources available, before our peace officers (many of them well-meaning) lose the credibility to police our streets.

Comment from nhiemtran
Time December 28, 2011 at 6:17 am

My sister was beaten up by the police despite my begging . She has mental disorder . It happended right in front of my eyes . I can’t believe it . And I don’t forget .

Comment from James Johnson
Time December 28, 2011 at 12:42 pm

The incidents which made the news are both unfortunate and fortunate. Fortunate in that they highlight the need for greater accountability for the police; our so called “public servants.” Most citizens in the core neighborhood of any major city are well aware of the brutal and unjust acts the police have gotten away with since the beginning of time. The acts which residents of Seattle have recently viewed are but a fraction of the actual brutal acts. The highlighted incidents are also unfortunate in that the acts of a few irresponsible police officers taint the whole department; which is why the citizens of Seattle must demand greater performance from its public servants. The police department needs a more robust candidate selection process as well as why the powers that be need greater leverage with the police union to root out callus and rouge officers who unjustly brutalize and murder its citizens. Additionally, all citizens need to understand that the SPD has an incredibly difficult job to do, which as Seattle grows, will only get more difficult. I interactions with the SPD over time have been excellent however I have friends who have encountered rude and bulling officers when such behavior was not warranted. Chief Diaz is not the solution nor the problem. The solution resides with Seattle citizens who if want change must participate in the process of actively working with the SPD versus sitting on the sidelines and taking pot shots. We can all start with forming block watches and working in our neighborhood schools to positively influence our your people. Real change is never easy without significant sacrifice. What are we as citizens prepared to sacrifice to improve the performance of the SPD for the benefit of all citizens.

Comment from SF
Time December 31, 2011 at 10:46 am

Police reform. Good idea. Now, when something goes wrong, the LAST people I want to call are the police.

Comment from danny
Time January 3, 2012 at 11:20 am

I agree, james the SPD has an incredibly difficult job. but sentences like:,, My sister was beaten up by the police despite my begging ”. give me the creeps.

Comment from Andrew Bush
Time January 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Its is absolutely impossible for you to not have known we had no constructive police accountability. It took a Federal investigation to point that out and the only thing you can do is follow their advice? This tells us all that you had absolutely no intention of even correcting the problem until you were told to. You had no ideas to reign in all the lawlessness of the Seattle Police That is not the leadership Seattle needs. Unfortunately it is now clear you are part of the problem and we are all paying dearly for it.

I have put in a public disclosure request inquiring what the entire salary the Office of Professional Accountability Director Kathryn Olsen has earned since May 7, 2007. Besides recommendations on disposition and discipline to the Chief of Police she also reports to the Mayor and the City Council on OPA activity and issues concerning the professional standards. From what I can see her entire job has been to give the tax payers of Seattle the illusion (or disillusion) of accountability on their website. Anyone can sit at a desk and take in complaints that go nowhere. Did she inform you of these stalled complaints through all these years? You seem surprised by the results of the federal investigation. Was that an act? Either you were informed or she didn’t do her job.

Furthermore we can not even count how many officers have been proven to outright LIE on their reports anymore. No officer proven to lie should ever be able to carry a badge. Our freedom is at stake. Thousands and thousands of fines, convictions and incarcerations are in question that involved these officers. Are you doing anything at all to help these people? Imagine if one of your family members lost their freedom based on the report filed by an officer proven to repeatedly lie on reports. I don’t think you can imagine this because obviously it is unlikely when you are the Mayor. What about the rest of us?

Do you know how much all the investigations, lawsuits, settlements, and cost of both the prosecutors and the defense of lawless abusive officers is actually costing the tax payers? Have you ever even looked at these figures as the elected leader of this city? Does this effect property taxes? Utility bills and cuts to school budgets? When parents are asked for even more money from schools for their children to participate in school functions do you wonder if the latest multi million dollar settlement caused this? As Mayor of this city I just assumed you would when Millions and Millions are paid out of our tax dollars for police wrongdoing.

100 percent of all Seattle Police officers knew that we didn’t have a system to hold them accountable and knew the public was lead to believe otherwise. How could they not when they witness one fellow officer after another getting away with, well, just about everything. 100 percent! That is outrageous! That is an entirely corrupt police department. We are all paying a horrible price now for both your lack of leadership and action.

I have very little confidence in this federal investigation since we have already been through this whole process. In just a few years since a complete federal investigation into the abuses and rights violations being committed against inmates in the King County Jail ended we have paid millions more in investigations, defense attorneys, lawsuits and settlements.

One correction officer Richard Harr almost beat an inmate to death. Four other correction officers testified that the inmate was following orders and did nothing to warrant this beating which involved choking him unconscious and kicking and stomping his head and neck repeatedly. An emergency room physician testified that the inmate suffered life threatening injuries and it took a team to save his life. Yet he received a misdemeanor thanks to yet another sweet deal from our prosecutors and their close relationship with our police departments. Even the judge said he was undercharged but then accepted this deal. Again a prime example of the blatantly low standards that our officers are held to.

Even though Federal Laws dictates that police officers shall not be held to a lower standard of law then the citizens, Seattle police are held to the lowest possible standards and this is now proven fact!

You hired Chief Diaz who refuses to fire officers proven to lie on reports and continues to hide the lawlessness of the Seattle police department from the citizens of Seattle . I understand he himself caused the city to be fined 75,000 for no other reason that refusing to provide an attorney with a police report. Who is advising this man to break the law?

Does the name Shandy Cobane and 5 other unnamed officers conspiring together to file false reports in complete contradiction to video evidence ring a bell. Not to mention the police involvement with suppressing the video release on Q13. Seattle police actually dictating what will and will not be reported right at the news station is deplorable. They all still carry a badge.

And now a lawsuit from KOMO News because the Seattle Police are violating the freedom of information act by refusing to release requested information yet again. Do you know how much that will cost us?

What about officer Lee downtown kicking the teen in the store then admitting in court his report was false? Will he continue to carry a badge and take freedom of Seattle residents based on his word? How is it that both You and Chief Diaz can’t see that this is against the law?

What about when King County officers commit violent acts against citizens in Seattle ? When King County Deputy Matthew Paul shoved Christopher Harris downtown so hard he broke his neck then lied to paramedics repeating over and over that he ran into the wall like a child caught in the act of being naughty? This is PATHETIC that this man still has the right to carry a badge and take away our freedom. Deputy Paul then proceeded to bash another citizens face into the ground for filming him and jaywalking. Do you have the opinion that it is not your Department so it is not your problem? You seem to distance yourself from the lawless actions of King County Officers committed within the Seattle city limits also.

YOU approved the contract with the police union that resulted in constant threats to the taxpayers by the police union president if we dare try to hold these officers accountable and prevents us from even drug testing officers should they, for example, shoot a elderly and partially deaf woodcarver first through the face and then multiple times through the side. Imagine not being allowed to drug test people we issue weapons to.

Maybe Officer Richard F. Nelson would not have committed suicide if we drug tested these officers regularly. Instead Chief Diaz saw an opportunity to make an example of him right after the disgraceful report by our federal investigation was release.

These are just a few examples and there are many more I could list and I am sure there is an abundance that the public is not and will never be aware of thanks to the magic golden police union contract that promotes and supports the lawlessness of the Seattle police.

I understand you already approved a new contract and forwarded it on to the Seattle City Council for their ok. Did you read the contract you approved? Will we have more years of corruption hidden under the umbrella of immunity that only results in more news conferences with you and Chief Diaz proclaiming you are limited by that same contract for officers that break the laws we pay them to uphold?

Will the Seattle Police Union President continue to threaten to sue the tax payers with the best lawyers the taxpayers can buy?

I often wonder where Seattle would be today if we had more integrity in the office of the Mayor and within our police leadership. Right now I can not see how things could be worse.

There is no way with good conscience I could vote for you a second time. You have repeatedly put the citizens of Seattle in a vulnerable position that is effecting us all both financially and instills citywide mistrust of the very people we pay to uphold the law. Mistrust of police is PROVEN to hinder investigations and solve crimes.

Your repeated promises to regain the trust within the community these past few years meant nothing. You did nothing until a federal investigation told you to. Did you at least have some ideas you were going to implement because from your recent statements on your website it doesn’t appear so. Its too bad. So many opportunities lost.

We can no longer afford your lack of leadership. I have no confidence in your ability to clean up this disgusting mess.

You have absolutely no credibility after outright lying to the entire city all these years.

Comment from Andrew Bush
Time January 26, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Laticia Carol wrote; Next time, someone gets murdered,raped, beaten….Don’t cry wolf…That is a very common excuse many use when issues of holding police accountable arise. Unfortunately that means absolutely nothing. It is those abusive 44 that rack up 1,200 complaints that not only cost the tax payers as I pointed out in my previous comment but it also makes what people describe as “good cops” jobs harder. Does it make sense for police who actually do believe in upholding the law and respecting the rights of the citizens to be forced to carry the reputation of the worst of the worse? Of course not. Police accountability is 99% common sense. Its too bad those in charge put all their time into hiding the crooked cops and writing contracts that allow them to continue their crimes against the citizen in Seattle. ie; McGinn, Diaz Seattle City Council members. They ALL are have been very well informed that we have had no police accountability because the OPA Director reports directly to them. It sure sounds like defrauding the tax payers to me.