How to Destroy a Police Department.
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.
(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.