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Monday, January 28, 2008

Regarding Lying Cops

Remember the preview of the mayor's OPARP review of Seattle's police oversight problems, where a few of the 29 total recommendations deal with officer dishonesty being an offense worthy of automatic termination?

Well, the Seattle Post Intelligencer's investigative reporters Eric Nalder and Lewis Kamb just published a report about an investigation they performed into what happens to Seattle police officers who are found to have lied to investigators, fellow officers, the department, and on reports.

The report is pretty convoluted, but the meat of the matter seems to be that Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske appears to have a soft spot for dishonest cops while other departments tend to fire them:

The Seattle Police Department opened at least 13 internal investigations from 2005 through mid-2007 involving officers accused of dishonesty, among other allegations, according to internal records provided to the P-I.

Of the 13 Seattle cases, four remained open as of late last year. Four other cases were "inactivated" when accused officers resigned before the investigations were concluded.

...In at least three of the five (remaining) cases, lower commanders or then-Office of Professional Accountability Director Sam Pailca recommended dishonesty-related charges be sustained against accused officers. And in a fourth case, a high-profile case involving two officers accused of roughing up a drug suspect in a wheelchair last year, a civilian review board later said internal investigators should have sustained dishonesty violations against two accused officers. (the fourth case prompted the creation of the OPARP and SCCPAP due to public outcry over the chief's exoneration of the officers in question, that story is here.)

But in each case, Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske opted to sustain only other lesser charges, for which he implemented discipline far less severe than termination.

Requests to Kerlikowske for comment about these cases were not returned Monday.

Of course, the Seattle Police Officer's Guild defended the chief's overturning of dishonesty findings, saying that what the internal investigators considered as dishonesty wasn't really dishonesty, er, exactly... Meanwhile the article does go on to describe some of the cases that would have met the criteria for being an offense that merited termination elsewhere, but did not in Seattle... Apparently we in Seattle have a higher tolerance for dishonesty in our sworn defenders of, er, truth and, um, justice?

While the pending results of the OPARP review of SPD accountability procedures, due tomorrow, is generating quite a bit of interest. The fact is that, due to the Seattle police union's continued efforts, the recommendations will likely not be able to be implemented anytime soon, if at all.

So, don't expect to see any dishonest cops being held accountable for their actions in Seattle anytime soon.

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