“As I say at every new-hire orientation session ‘you do not give up one single constitutional right when you pin on your badge’” (The Guardian, June, 2013). Sgt. Rich O’Neill, President Seattle Police Officers Guild.”
Note: The following article represents my own views. In exercising my First Amendment rights, I do not speak for anyone other than myself.
After reading the Steve Milletich’s story, “Monitor blasts SPD foot-dragging, firearms board, command staff” (Seattle Times, Nov. 15, 2013), about Department of Justice (DOJ) Federal Monitor Merrick Bobb’s recent report that finds the Seattle Police Department (SPD) is not in compliance with a federal consent decree, am I surprised? No! In fact, I’d be surprised if SPD had been found in compliance even if they had adopted every unjustifiable iota of this federal intrusion into a once stellar police department by a dishonest DOJ investigation.
No one in Seattle should be surprised. Earlier this year during an investigation of Merrick Bobb’s dubious claims for reimbursement from Seattle taxpayers for extravagant items (Bobb removed $7,500.00 from his reimbursement requests-Seattle Times, February 25, 2013), Bobb bristled at being challenged. He deemed the questioning of his requests, “humiliating, time consuming, and obstructionist” (Welcome to the club, Mr. Bobb).
Regarding this current negative report, did Mr. Bobb tip his hand last February when responding to the reimbursement charges when he said, “I’m not certain that we can currently say we are getting cooperation from the city regarding the monitoring or movement toward full and effective implementation of the consent decree” (Seattle Times, February 25, 2013), or are the results of this report simply a coincidence?
Mr. Bobb noted “de-policing” in his report, which he called, “troubling.” He also referred to it as, “a deliberate lack of policing.” Now, Merrick Bobb is not a police officer and never has been, no matter how many TV cop shows he’s watched. While an individual police officer here or there might intentionally decide to decrease pro-activity in response to some personal grievance, this is not a widespread conspiracy.
Cops do not get up in the morning thinking, Hey, how can I “de-police” today? They don’t gather at the coffee shop to formulate plans on how to “de-police,” over a Crispy Cream. So-called “de-policing” is not an intent to… by police; “de-policing” is a result of… by politicians, administrators, and bureaucrats.
Most cops simply want to be able to do their jobs the way they know it should be done. In fact, with most officers coming out of the academy, just try to stop them (Although, the consent decree seems to be doing a stellar job of this). Officers in Seattle desperately want to be allowed to do their jobs. The sad truth is, they are being bullied and prevented from doing so because of the implementation of ignorant, politically inspired, and damaging policies emanating from a dishonest DOJ report. In an interview with Guardian editor Officer Chet Decker, Bobb said, “What I know for sure is that the settlement agreement embodies best practice in policing and that it is to the SPD’s and Seattle’s benefit that it be implemented regardless of what led up to it” (Guardian, August, 2013).
As a line officer with over 20 years of patrol experience, when I read, “If the current senior command staff remains in place and their attitudes toward the Settlement Agreement do not change, the SPD is unlikely to be able to achieve full and effective compliance with the agreement,” (Seattle Times, Nov. 15) I must confess I experienced a sense of hope and pride in SPD’s command staff I haven’t felt in years.
To comply with corruption is to be complicit in it, and to whatever degree the command staff is able to resist this insult to one of the best police departments in America, I salute them.