January 11, 2012

Steve Pomper

Tim Burgess will pave road to city hall with blue uniforms

author photoseattle curiosities

It appears likely mayoral candidate, city councilmember, and former cop, Tim Burgess intends to pave his road to city hall with blue uniforms. The Seattle Times (“After observing police, Seattle councilmember calls for new approach.” Times Jan. 9, 2012) tells us, “Tim Burgess calls for fundamental changes to city policing.”

However, after reading the article, and having been a cop in Seattle for almost twenty years, I see nothing new. Some of the ideas I like, others are simply rhetorical window dressing, and still others contain language that make me want to gag: “Embracing ‘problem-oriented policing,’ in which officers work with citizens to identify issues that cause crime — even those outside the typical scope of police work.” (I threw up a bit, just then).

I believe Mr. Burgess wants the best for his city. However, I also believe he is a politician who wants to be mayor. I’ve seen these “new” suggestions offered in his essay, at least those highlighted in the Times article, instituted time and again over the years under those or different names. Sometimes they work for a while, sometimes they don’t, but it never lasts. Some new “magic policing concept” will roll on down the pike. The common denominator: Non-cops (oh, excuse me; and apparently sometimes former cops) try to tell the cops how to do their jobs.

I swear if the city just left cops to do the coppin’, the results would be tremendous. Everyone seems to think they know better how to do a cop’s job than the cops. Mr. Burgess suggests focusing on “hotspots.” Wow! Where in the world did he come up with such a magnificent concept? The brilliance is blinding. Gee, the dumb cops would never have thought about focusing their resources where the crime is. I’m gonna tell my sergeant about it in roll call today. Bet he’ll be so surprised.

Dealing with repeat offenders is another gem. Damn, I’m glad that is to be addressed under this “new” policing concept. However, according to Mr. Burgess (and I am being serious here; I’m sincerely pleased the councilmember used the term “punishment”), “To change behavior, swift and certain punishment, but not necessarily severe sanctions, should be imposed.” But not necessarily severe…? So, a quick slap on the wrist, perhaps? The only thing swift and certain is how quickly criminals are released from jail. And Mr. Burgess, this is not the cop’s fault.

The primary question is: how does Councilmember Burgess intend to accomplish his lofty goal. The current city leaders, with a little assistance from the DOJ, and from the Seattle citizens who elected them, have broken their police department, and there’s no sign of anyone who really knows how to make the proper repairs on the horizon. Nope, only folks who want to take what’s broken, and make sure it’s smashed into something unrecognizable. Something that exists only to enforce the city’s social justice dream.

I really don’t mind if Tim Burgess wins election for mayor. I sincerely do not believe we could do any worse than the current occupant, although I do believe we could do as bad—I just can’t imagine worse. This is not an endorsement, but at least Burgess doesn’t appear to be a leftwing ideologue, just a nice guy, but a typical leftwing politician. As they say, take care for what you wish, Mr. Burgess; you just may get it.


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