• How to Destroy a Fine Police Department

    How to Destroy a Police Department.

    by

    Steve Pomper

    (Preface)

    Sadly, I must preface this blog/article in order to convey some background. Unfortunately, the Seattle Times is the only major newspaper covering the Seattle area, and apparently the gatekeepers aren’t particularly interested in presenting all sides of an issue. However, they don’t seem to mind pretending they are interested.

    I wrote an op-ed addressing the damaging effects of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree on the Seattle Police Department and commenting on the fact that the Seattle news media continuously fail to put the consent decree in its proper context in its news reports. Rather than reporting that the DOJ consent decree was controversial due to the dubious way in which the DOJ conducted its “investigation,” most Seattle media only report the fact the SPD is under a consent decree due to a “pattern and practice of” officer brutality and misconduct, as if that is a universally agreed upon fact, which it most definitely is not.

    On February 11, 2014, prior to my retirement from the SPD, I submitted the first version of the following article to the Seattle Times as a Guest Op-Ed hoping it would be published while I was still on the job. What followed was 36 days of running through a Seattle Time’s gauntlet they had apparently set up for me. My wife cancelled our Times subscription back in ‘99 due to the consistently inaccurate reporting during WTO. She told me I was wasting my time if I thought the Seattle Times would print a Seattle street cop’s perspective on the current state of the police department under a federal consent decree and city social justice regime.

    In declining the article after such a delay, the Seattle Times provided a perfect example of a leftist bias, which prevents it from providing balanced perspectives to its readers.

    Below is the timeline of the publishing obstacle course Sharon Chan of the Seattle Times had me run, as I simply attempted to bring to light what I and many of my brother and sister officers have experienced:

    Feb. 11- Article submitted to the Seattle Times.

    Feb. 12- Times request to cut article to 650-word limit.

    Feb. 15- Sent revision cut by 50%.

    Feb 20- Times request I footnote/cite article due to “High Stakes” subject.

    Feb 21- Sent revision w/ footnotes and citations.

    Mar. 3- Follow Up: Asked if Times received revision.

    Mar. 3- Times reply: Will get back to you by end of day Mar. 4.

    Mar. 4- Times request I accept their edits and they will publish within 4 weeks.

    Mar.10- Sent, yet another, revision to Times.

    Mar.14- Times informed me they are doing additional edits.

    Mar. 15- I sent reply acknowledgement.

    Mar. 18- Times suddenly declines due to three minor issues/ one-min. of edit time to correct.

    Total time from submission to decline: 36 days, during which time I had retired from the SPD.

    It is clear that the Seattle Times strung me along long enough to make me believe its interest in publishing the op-ed was genuine. In fact, what follows are some of the quotes I received from Editor Sharon Chan during the process. Actually, she seemed quite nice. However, she failed to give me the courtesy of replying to my final email questioning this dubious process.

    Feb 12- “I think the submission has potential but we can only seriously consider submissions that meet our word length of 500 to 650 words. If you would like to trim and resubmit, we would be happy to take another look.”

    Feb. 20- “I’m interested in your perspective. Because this is a high stakes topic, we would need sources for each of the facts/quotes…”

    Mar. 13- “We would like to publish your op-ed and work through some

    editing changes with you. We would be planning to publish this at some

    point in the next four weeks, assuming we reach agreement on edits.”

    Mar. 18- “I wish we could have shared your perspective with our readers

    because I believe it would have added a needed perspective to the dialogue.

    Sorry it didn’t work out. Sharon Chan.”

    In the final email Ms. Chan included three items of concern:

    #1. In one place I had mistakenly written NPR instead of PBS.

    #2. I had placed quotation marks around a paraphrase of a quote that had not changed the essence of the quote one iota.

    #3. I put quotes around three words intended to denote sarcasm, which I intended to convey

    in this: Opinion-Editorial.

    After hours of edits, footnotes and citations, the Seattle Times would like us

    to believe they declined to publish this, “needed perspective to the

    dialogue,” for a few final edits that took me less than a minute to correct.

    How to Destroy a Police Department.

    by

    Steve Pomper

    (This is a full version akin to the article originally submitted to the Seattle Times)

    How do you take one of the most well-respected and emulated police departments in America and, almost overnight, turn it into an enfeebled version of its former self? One way is by having Seattle’s political leaders impose a social justice regime, which contaminates laws and policies, by subjecting police officers to political indoctrination, and, finally, by allowing the Department of Justice (DOJ) to impose a federal fiction.

    Having recently retired after more than twenty-one years of service to the City of Seattle, and years earlier than I expected, I feel confident giving a street cop’s view of today’s Seattle Police Department (SPD) under a social justice regime and DOJ consent decree.

    Since no one seems to be picking up the mantle publicly for Seattle’s cops, it seems we must speak for ourselves, if not collectively, then individually. I do not claim to speak for all of my brothers and sisters. However, as a street cop for over twenty-one years in one of America’s most notoriously liberal cities, I feel confident in speaking from my perspective about the Seattle Police Department (SPD). “As I say at every new-hire orientation session ‘you do not give up one single constitutional right when you pin on your badge.” Sgt. Rich O’Neill, Seattle Police Officers Guild President (The Guardian, June, 2013).

    Social justice indoctrination begins benignly, first, by infusing a city government’s lexicon with inane leftist jargon and political correctness, which then leads to political indoctrination. Elliott Bronstein, of Seattle’s Office for Civil Rights, issued a memo last year, nudging city employees to refrain from using such horrendously racist and bigoted words as, “brown bag” and “citizen.” This leftist lunacy was reported as far away as the United Kingdom, thus elevating Seattle from a national laughing stock, to that of, at the very least, the English-speaking world.

    Seeking to bolster this dubious distinction, at Seattle’s Hempfest 2013, city officials directed police officers to hand out bags of Doritos, labeled with instructions on how to comply with the new marijuana law, to the pothead throng illegally smoking marijuana in public. During a speech to the orange-fingered masses, Seattle’s City Attorney Peter Holmes cheered legalized pot. Perhaps Mr. Holmes should also have cops dole out bags of beer nuts to sidewalk drunks.

    Even if I might agree with Mr. Holmes about certain drug policies, there is a matter of propriety. It was with obvious affection that Holmes shouted, “We did it!” to the cloud enveloped gathering. However, his speech to the Hempfest crowd also revealed his hostility toward police. Holmes has dubiously prosecuted several officers who were subsequently acquitted, but he is reluctant to prosecute Downtown street crime. Last year Holmes refused to prosecute twenty-eight chronic street criminals personally requested by Acting Police Chief Jim Pugel.

    And then there is Seattle’s, Race and Social Justice Initiative’s (RSJI), whose slimy tentacles have slithered into every crack and crevice of city government. Police manuals, notices and directives are contaminated with social justice terms. City departments must now be social justice-compliant. Also, thanks to Peter Holmes, Seattle, unbelievably, is enforcing the law according to social justice rather than equal justice standards.

    By definition, social justice treats people differently depending upon their group “victimization credentials.” By contrast, equal justice seeks to treat individuals equally as espoused in America’s founding documents and subsequent amendments.

    Driving While License Suspended 3rd Degree (DWLS3) is a traffic crime, which generally results when a driver fails to pay a previous citation. Normally, officers issue citations to the violator during the traffic stop. With this law, officers must instead forward the citation to the city attorney’s office, so they can determine who gets cited and who does not according to social justice criteria. Assistant City Attorney Darby Ducomb said in a 2010 interview with Publicola.net that, “…city attorneys would decide which cases merited punishment.” Mr. Holmes, twice during a video interview with Publicola.net, stated that the DWLS3 policy is based in social justice because a high percentage of those cited happen to be minorities. When I questioned this policy in a series of articles in the police guild newspaper, the department investigated me for seven months. I was found to have done nothing wrong, but this had a chilling affect on officers’ free speech rights.

    To reinforce the social justice message, Seattle now sends its cops to political indoctrination disguised as law enforcement training. The indoctrination includes a PBS produced video series: “Race: The Power of an Illusion,” which provides some valid scientific and historical information, but then instructors conflate this with invalid contemporary conclusions. The seminar perpetuates a view that white privilege and minority oppression are the preeminent rule in contemporary American society. This is a political perspective, not law enforcement training. If the situation was reversed and, for example, a conservative government mandated employees attend firearms safety classes, Seattle’s political left would never tolerate it.

    On another battlefront, the DOJ descended on Seattle to further blemish this once stellar police department. The DOJ allegedly found that Seattle police officers’ uses-of-force violated suspects’ constitutional rights an absurd 20% of the time. Incredibly, the DOJ refuses to divulge the mystical methodology it used to arrive at such a ludicrous figure.

    Enter Seattle University criminal justice professor and former DOJ statistician Matthew J. Hickman Ph.D. who debunked the DOJ report. In more thorough investigations, Professor Hickman arrived at a more lucid number of 3.5% of cases that might include violations. In a courageous, Special to the Times: Department of Justice owes the Seattle Police Department an apology (Seattle Times, Feb. 8th, 2012), Hickman advised the SPD to, “call DOJ’s bluff, and settle for nothing less than a formal apology.” Despite this timely and credible defense of the SPD, Seattle city leaders ignored his advice. This insulting and costly federal consent decree gives the DOJ unprecedented access and illegitimate influence over Seattle’s understaffed, overstressed and overburdened cops.

    In an interview conducted by the Seattle Police Guild’s, The Guardian, editor, Officer Chet Decker, Merrick Bobb, the federal monitor, who’s had his own share of controversy since coming to Seattle, offered this chillingly Orwellian statement: “Whatever the correct figure might be, it is not relevant to our task today. The feud is over, and past disagreements must not impede current progress. 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” (The Guardian, August, 2013). Regardless of what led up to it? For SPD officers, this is akin to having been falsely charged with a crime, exonerated, and then told you still have to serve a prison sentence.

    Currently, Seattle’s so-called, mainstream, as well as fringe (not that one can easily discern the difference these days), media continue to refer to the consent decree as if there were no controversy regarding its fabrication and implementation. Consider this title from an NPR news story by, Martin Kaste, “Faith In Seattle Police ‘shaken’ By DOJ Investigation.” I read through several stories and watched and listened to others on TV and radio news broadcasts concerning the consent decree, while writing this article. Most reporters fail to put the consent decree in context. The fact this consent decree was controversial with regard to the DOJ’s dubious conclusions and its failure to release the methodology it used is no longer mentioned. The only mention is of a consent decree instituted due to a, “pattern and practice,” of police misconduct and physical abuse. How can this not lead to Seattle’s citizens falsely concluding that their honorable police force is staffed by physically abusive and morally corrupt thugs?

    The good men and women of the SPD are under siege from the political left. Last summer, Merrick Bobb indicated he was not happy with a “lack of cooperation” from some within the SPD command staff. In an apparent reaction to this criticism, then Interim Police Chief Jim Pugel demoted one of the rank and file’s favorite chiefs, Assistant Chief Nick Metz, to Captain. The speculation among many officers was that A/Chief Metz was demoted as a direct result of his advocacy on behalf of Seattle’s embattled police officers. Interim Chief Harry Bailey, a good man, corrected this disrespect and re-promoted Metz to Assistant Chief.

    What will the SPD look like after its sinew has been turned to flab? One fear is, “De-policing,” a phenomenon where cops avoid pro-active patrol. The good people of Seattle should understand this: “De-policing” is not about police apathy toward their jobs. It is about a federal and city government’s antipathy toward police. Today, it seems our own department is filing more complaints against officers than are the public. Criminals are being turned into victims while police officers are being treated like criminals.

    Seattleites should be aware of this insidious, ideological disease infecting its police department. It is said that a community gets the law enforcement it deserves. Seattle has recently elected a new mayor, Ed Murray, whom I’ve met, and who is a nice man. However, he is still a very liberal politician who has not acknowledged the corruption behind this bogus, and expensive, consent decree. Whether or not Seattleites deserve the law enforcement they are getting, I’ll let them be the judge. After all, it is they who will suffer the consequences of their votes. And I suppose, now, I should prepare for my visit from the IRS.

  • The Power to Take Liberty, Even Momentarily, is a Serious Business.

    If you ask people what is the greatest power a police officer has at his disposal most would probably answer, his gun, or the ability to use force up to and including lethal. After all the power to use physical force against another person is a significant one indeed. However, in the majority of instances when an officer must use force, especially lethal force, it’s a circumstance in which any person would be able to take the same actions. Officers use force for two primary reasons: to protect themselves or to protect others. We all enjoy this right.

    These powers, though significant and necessary, become almost incidental to the true power of the police officer in a free country such as the United States of America. That true power is the authority to take away a free person’s liberty. Even if only for a short time, such as during a traffic stop or when detained for something minor like littering, the power to stop a person in the midst of conducting his daily work or leisure, is an awesome power indeed.

    Think about it. If you’re walking down the street and some person told you to stop, you’d probably gesture creatively indicating what he could do with that command. But as a society we give a limited number of people the authority to detain and arrest people for investigation of an infraction, misdemeanor crime, or felony crime. When the police detain people to investigate a crime we tend to give the officer more of a benefit of the doubt. But when it comes to simple infractions, civil violations that don’t rise to the level of a crime, such as jaywalking or speeding, the power to deprive a person of their liberty takes on a higher significance. I always took this authority seriously and would have considered it an abuse of power if I had wielded it frivolously.

    It is for this reason I oppose the proliferation of socialist-tinged laws, which are those laws that are designed to protect Peter from Peter, rather than, correctly, Peter from Paul. For example, do I think wearing a seatbelt is a good idea? No. I think wearing a seatbelt is a great idea. I use mine all the time and I encourage my family to use them because it is a great idea. I also encourage them to wear rain gear in inclement weather and to take their vitamins every day. These are also great ideas, but should the law enforce these great ideas? Of course not.

    A law that gives me the authority to stop you when you’re not engaged in an activity that harms another is a bad law. If you’re driving down the street and a police officer sees you driving your car without a seat belt, harming no one, and putting no one at risk other than, potentially, yourself, he or she can stop you, deprive you of your liberty, and sanction you with a monetary penalty. Put simply, I think that’s just plain wrong.

  • Daniel Henninger: WSJ Necessary Reading.

    I rarely refer to other columns or writers. There are just too many good ones, and I wouldn’t want to slight by omission if this became a habit (although, I do reserve the right to change this policy). However, after reading Daniel Henninger’s Wall Street Journal article this morning, I just had to pass it along to folks. Henninger has been a favorite of mine for some time now. In this column, the way he lists Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions over the recent past and then compares Obama’s responses with former President Jimmy Carter’s actions during his presidency, is poignant indeed. The Russian and Chinese dangers are too serious to attempt a Chamberlain-styled diplomacy. But, I’ll let Daniel convey this message. Read Article.

  • Yes, Mr. President, there is a travesty here.

    If one ever wonders where President Obama stands on a particular issue, or topic, in general, in his heart, one need only look to whom he nominates for important government positions and to his comments regarding the issues surrounding these nominations.

    The Senate today showed a rare sanity while under Harry Reid’s thumb, today when several Democrats broke rank and voted to block Debo Adegbile’s nomination to head the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Shame on all of the senators who voted for this ill-considered nomination.

    The controversy surrounding Mr. Adegbile comes from his having represented convicted cop-killer, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and having kept him from the noose, electric chair, or lethal injection he most certainly warranted. A jury found Abu-Jamal guilty of, as several witnesses to the crime testified, running up on Officer Daniel Faulkner while the officer was conducting a “routinetraffic stop and shooting the officer in the back. After the officer shot back and then fell to the ground, grievously wounded, Abu-Jamal walked over and shot the helpless twenty-five year old officer again, in the chest and face.

    President Obama, in a written statement, wrote, “The fact that his nomination was defeated solely based on his legal representation of a defendant runs contrary to a fundamental principle of our system of justiceand those who voted against his nomination denied the American people an outstanding public servant.”

    This is not a matter of “solelyrepresenting an accused defendant, to which everyone has a right. Even John Adams defended the British Soldiers accused of murder after what came to be known as, “The Boston Massacre.” Adegbile’s defense bled over to advocacy when decades after Abu-Jamal had been duly convicted and sentenced, he elected to assist this murderer further, including getting his death sentence overturned.

    What strikes me most, as a police officer, is the President’s comments following Addgbile’s defeat. As with his comments following the incident involving Harvard Professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates that the Cambridge Police, “acted stupidly,” Mr. Obama tells us much about his core beliefs.

    Similarly, following Adegbile’s defeat, and ignoring the massive opposition by law enforcement across America, from the officer or deputy on the street all the way up to the nation’s police chiefs and sheriffs, law enforcement organizations, and police unions, Mr. Obama called the vote a, “travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant.”

    We all make choice in life for which we may one day have to account. Adegbile chose to defend, not a defendant whose innocence is rightly presumed, but an already convicted cop-killer whose guilt a jury had pronounced and whose sentence a state Supreme Court had upheld before it was overturned. That, in and of itself, was another shameful–I’ll use the President’s wordstravesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant. His name was Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.

  • Don’t let “them” define you politically.

    I’ve been thinking about political definitions lately. It seems so many people prefer to stuff people they don’t even know into neat little description boxes. This seems to be most true with ideological people on either side of the aisle who tend to dehumanize their opponents. When I went through my free speech kerfuffle with Seattle a few years back, although those who know me, know me to be kind, compassionate, and open-minded, many on the political left blasted me as a knuckle-dragging, jack-booted and racist thug. These were comments from people who do not know me. They hear words coming from someone with which they disagree and then paint the speaker/writer with their ignorant bile.

    There are many categories into which people fit, but the non-ideological do not fit neatly. The lines are blurred; the boundaries overlap. For example, there are those who are predominately liberal but who oppose abortion. There are conservatives who are pro-choice. Striking closer to home, libertarians also have these distinctions. With regard to the abortion issue, some libertarians support a pro-choice position with an emphasis on the woman. Other libertarians choose to emphasize a pro-life perspective and focus on the unborn child. The latter view seems to be enhanced by scientific advances in perinatology and related medical science, which have occurred since Roe v. Wade, more than forty years ago.


    But I digress. I think it is radio talk show host, Larry Elder, who uses the phrase: republitarian, combining republican with libertarian to describe his liberty-minded blended audience of Republicans and libertarians. This conception would place republican over libertarian. Perhaps, liberpublican?

    It is important that people define themselves politically, rather than conform to match a specific political ideology. If you’re involved with a group of people who too narrowly define their political perspective, saying, “You’re not a liberal, conservative, or libertarian unless you believe…” then find another group. Suspect anyone who tells you that you are not libertarian because you are pro-life, or for that matter, pro-choice. Define your own political perspective and retain your sacred independence of thought.