Sorry folks, hate to do this with so many stories coming out on the heals of the Seattle Police Officer's Guild refusal to accept accountability reforms which resulted in the utter breakdown of contract talks... But my headaches have been really wearing me down these last few days, they're making me physically ill and it's really hard to concentrate...
and being ganged up on by police officers like this guy...
who keeps visiting this site on his city computer even though he tried to get it removed from blogspot (but thinks it's silly)... just doesn't help my headache one bit. (sure, the image is blurry, click it if you want to see a log of a cop viewing this site from a city computer for over half an hour... and yes, they do it all the time).
Anyway... Take care, stay safe, and thanks for reading!
Friday, February 29, 2008
Sorry folks, hate to do this with so many stories coming out on the heals of the Seattle Police Officer's Guild refusal to accept accountability reforms which resulted in the utter breakdown of contract talks... But my headaches have been really wearing me down these last few days, they're making me physically ill and it's really hard to concentrate...
If you need any more reasons to demand that the Seattle Police Officer's Guild stop obstructing the city's efforts to introduce accountability reforms, read the new series of reports at The Seattle Post Intelligencer called "The Strong Arm Of The Law".
I truly hope they keep at it, there's a lot more to report and it shows how badly Seattle's current system of unaccountability is utterly broken (which is why we don't recommend using it). They've been threatened repeatedly by the guild already, so we'll see if they cave into the pressure or not... we hope not.
While we doubt they'll find how extensive the problem is, like how SPD officers conspire with King County Jail guards to torture detainees by withholding medical treatment for designated prisoners after they've been injured, as in The Funhouse Case... but we hope they find whatever they can find and expose the deep-rooted problem with corruption and abuse that exists in the Seattle Police Department.
Coming up in their series:
Friday, Feb. 29: The West Precinct Anti-Crime Team is a nimble strike force that is used effectively to combat crime, Seattle Police Department officials say. But one defense lawyer says the team sometimes "creates crime" in its interactions with citizens. (We covered that here a few months ago)
Coming Saturday, March 1: He was arrested for obstructing a public officer after police say he was urinating in a park. Prosecutors declined to press charges. So how did this Seattle man remain in jail for months?Keep at it guys, and thanks for your efforts!
UPDATE: The story about the SPD "Anti-Crime Teams" is up, quite a doozy. (we wrote about them a few months ago after the Marc Hays jaywalking case) Be warned, some of the photos of their victims are rather graphic, especially the picture of the elderly man they beat until his spleen ruptured.
Again, I would post more about it but there is too much detail and it'll take me a while to process all of it... sorry, but my brain just doesn't work as well as it used to, I really wish it did.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Today the Seattle Post Intelligencer ran an article about how some people in Seattle are more at risk for being falsely accused of "obstruction" (otherwise known as "Contempt Of Cop"), which is often a cover for police brutality, as part of it's ongoing series called "The Strong Arm of The Law".
It was a pretty damning piece of investigative work that, as usual, resulted in police guild members and other officers circling their wagons to pretend that nothing is wrong and how they just don't need any oversight.
Seattle City Council member Nick Licata had his own take on the article in his "Urban Politics" newsletter, part of which I've decided to post here.
"...In the Post-Intelligencer this morning there is a special report titled: "Obstructing Justice - Blacks are arrested on "Contempt of Cop" Charge at Higher Rate." A trio of investigative reporters reviewed tens of thousands of pages of use-of-force reports, internal investigations and internal memos. Also more than 300 Municipal Court obstruction cases as well as civil suits against the city were reviewed. The picture that emerges is not a pretty one.
It asks, if not screams out, what is to be done? Seattle, unlike some other cities, does not track obstructing and similar arrests as a way to help identify problem officers. Why not? Is it because the result could be disciplining some officers? And if that occurred it would have to be negotiated with the union, the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG).
The City is currently trying to get SPOG to agree to the Mayor's Police Accountability Panel recommendations for greater police accountability to the public. SPOG's leadership apparently turned down an offer to buy these accountability measures from the union through a compounded 23.8% wage increase.
It is a situation that can breed cynicism about achieving a civilian oversight system. I try to keep my spirit in believing that we can achieve a fair and equitable system for both civilians and police. But when I read these reports it shakes my resolve. I want to believe that we can achieve justice, in Seattle, in the U.S. and even in Iraq. It certainly will take hope but it will also demand leadership. And leadership should not come every four years or just during election season.
I hear a call from the public whether it be national or local, for our elected representatives to stand up for principles; the principles that make our democracy a truth and not a lie. It is not a time to be timid. My hope is that our elected leaders hear that refrain and have the will to rise up and meet that challenge both in Seattle and across the country."
Indeed, many of us in Seattle can only hope and pray that the mayor and council have the courage and strength of character to continue the effort to bring a working system of accountability and oversight to the Seattle Police Department despite the constant efforts of the Seattle Police Officer's Guild to fight by using threats and scare tactics against the will of the people, transparent government, and the fair application of law and justice.
For some of us... especially those of us who have suffered unduly at the hands of unaccountable police officers... accountability reforms are the only hope we have left to feel safe in our own community once again, to walk with our children in our own city without fear, and to have faith again that those sworn to protect us won't harm us instead.
Please... don't give up on the idea of hope, don't give up on our hopes, the hopes of this city... lest we are forced to give in to fear.
*bumped because I thought Licata's statement was so well put.
Dear Seattle Police Officer's Guild (aka. SPOG)
All we want is for you to accept the OPARP's 29 police accountability recommendations. We want to be able to say that we don't fear our police officers, that we respect them, that we like them, that we are proud of them and the way they conduct themselves in the line of duty... and if you accepted accountability and oversight reforms it would go a long way towards reversing all the negative perceptions of Seattle Police Officers in Seattle, and everywhere in fact.
Just think, to be able to honestly say that the city of Seattle and it's police officers, led by their union, worked together to bring TRUE professional accountability and oversight to the Seattle Police Department through all this adversity, that would speak volumes to our police department's dedication to professionalism and to their city.
It's all we ask, it's all we want... So, what can WE do to help make that happen?
Let me know, I'll do it.
If you want me to come down to every police station and publicly apologize for anything bad I ever said about the SPOG and it's members, I'll do it in a heartbeat if you accept those 29 recommendations.
If you want me to walk around downtown Seattle in my underwear and wear a sign that says "THE SPOG IS SWELL!"... Heck, sign me up!
I tell you what... even if you want me to take this little website down, not talk about what was done to me ever again, and never say another bad thing about any Seattle police officers... I'll do that too.
Though my offers might not mean anything to you in real terms, I hope it at least shows that all we're genuinely interested in is for us to be able to be proud of our men in blue again.
Name your price, SPOG... What can we do to help you see that accepting accountability reforms is in your members' best interest as well as the city's best interest?
I know you read the site, so don't be shy... I'm not too proud to beg if it results in something good for everyone, please don't be too proud to do what's right either.
The Stranger has put up the video of the brutal assault on Mark Hays by the Seattle Police Department's "Anti-Crime Team" for jaywalking has been put up on YouTube...
Sorry, I'm not offering any additional commentary, my head hurts so bad today it's making me feel like throwing up, watching this brings up some painful memories... and watching this might make you feel the same way.
Damn shame, poor guy got this brutal treatment for jaywalking.
Well, more than 100 posts actually and we had planned something for that post... But even though we carried past that landmark because of the guild contract talk fiasco, we've decided to share a few statistics about our site for any interested readers as a little break anyway.
Top 5 Visiting Nations
- United States
- United Kingdom
- Seattle, Wa
- Bellevue, Wa
- Los Angeles, Ca
- Washington DC
- Seahurst, Wa
- Google Search
- Craigslist (Your guess is as good as our guess)
- SLOG (The Stranger's Blog)
- Yahoo Search
- The Funhouse Case
- The DOJ Report On Deadly KCCF Civil Rights Violations
- Police Misconduct and Crime Statistics
- Seattle's Criminal Anti-Crime Team
- Police Misconduct Attorney Information
- 133 Days Since Injustice In Seattle Started
- 4,226 Site Visits
- 1.7 Average Pages Viewed Per Visit
- 2:32 Average Time Spent Per Visit
- 81% of Visits are New Visitors
- 938 Feed Views
- 877 Feed Clicks
- Most Ironic Search Result That Sent Someone Here: "What is the punishment for jaywalking in Seattle" (That sent them to this story)
Until then... Thank you for visiting.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
The Seattle Police Officer's Guild has threatened the city of Seattle with even larger pickets than were originally planned and lawsuits over the city's move to bypass the guild and reveal the details of the contract the guild was turning down in stalled contract talks.
The city of Seattle stated that it has offered as much as it can, a 23.8% salary increase for experienced officers and a 33.9% increase for entry level officers. All this along with full protection of current benefit rates, additional hiring and equipment bonuses, and an additional 23 paid days off per year, raising the salary of experienced officers to nearly $90,000 per year, more than most experienced college graduate technology professionals in the area make.
The guild asserts that it is angry that the city didn't keep the details secret and said that they were close to making a "blockbuster deal", even though most sources close to the contract talks had said that the city and guild had stopped talking and the negotiations had completely stalled... and the fact that the guild has been preparing to picket for weeks, (since at least 02/08/08 per their own website), appears to contradict the guild's assertion that they were on the verge of a "blockbuster deal".
We assume that the guild is fuming over the public and it's members finding out just how much the guild was passing up in order to continue it's zealous fight against the city's efforts to implement police accountability and oversight reforms, as the guild has repeatedly mentioned accountability as a reason for it's opposition to the generous contract offer in it's furious reply to the city's move.
In fact... This appears to be the only reason the guild has decided to take such a hostile stance towards the city, because it can't be for the pay unless the guild is that far out of touch with the public, who generally only gets an average pay increase of 3.6% per year, and the city has offered FAR more than that.. An average of over $16,600 per year for each of it's members in fact!
Would you turn down an extra $16,600 per year in exchange for just having to do your job by the rules and follow the law?
On top of this, the president of the police officer's guild is threatening that the city's move has ruined the chances of the guild even considering the recommended police accountability reforms in their NEXT contract talks, slated for 2010!
We wonder, how far will the guild go to protect the abusive officers in it's midsts from being held accountable when they abuse the citizens of this city? So far, they've turned down generous pay raises, unheard of vacation time, have threatened the city with pickets and lawsuits, and have suffered public relation disaster after disaster, all on behalf of abusive cops?
As a part of our coverage of the broken-down contract talks between the city of Seattle and the Seattle Police Officer's Guild and what it means for the 29 proposed police misconduct accountability recommendations submitted by the mayor's review board, we've sent out requests to city council members to see what their thoughts are about the possibility of the reforms making it through the battle between the union and the city.
The first council member to graciously answer our questions was Nick Licata, who also gave us permission to publish his response, which was posted here. There was also one other response from another city council member, however that council member did not give us express permission to publish that response, even though it was a reasonable and pretty non-controversial statement... and this site will only publish information given to us by a third party with express permission of that party.
But, I understand really. After all, I'm deathly afraid of the Seattle Police Guild and their members myself and can only imagine the kind of political power they wield as well. So, even if you don't believe it, thank you for the time you took to respond, it is appreciated.
Monday, February 25, 2008
A break, I suppose, from the constant onslaught of misconduct news stories and the battles between a public that demands an accountable police force and a police force that refuses to be accountable to the public.
The thing is, there is no support group for survivors of police misconduct, there are no meetings in coffee shops or places where we can go and talk about what happened to us at the hands of people who have the power to destroy lives at a whim... In fact, people who suffer abuse at the hands of the police are usually discouraged from talking about it by lawyers, settlement agreements, and the police themselves.
Not in the least, though, is the discouragement survivors of police abuse feel from the public at large because, often, people believe that the police are incorruptible and above suspicion while victims of police abuse are thought to have somehow deserved the abuse they received. Even if we are found innocent by a court, we are still forever judged by society.
Generally, I think this creates a unique sense of isolation for those who are the victims of such abuse, and I wonder if other victims have the same feeling of isolation that I have, as a victim of police misconduct and a person who writes about it.
So, I want to invite any victims of police misconduct to write, partly for my own benefit to see if they have the same problems I do, but also to see if a dialog can help people who are so utterly isolated by society and by the very abuse that forces them to suffer in silence.
Ever since my experience, I've suffered horrible nightmares, ones that wake me up at night and keep me from sleeping again, and ones that stay with me in the waking hours of the day. I wonder if any of you have these as well?
Mine aren't just about what happened to me, though some are... But usually they are about what else the police might do to me, my family, and even my friends in retribution for my speaking out. For example, I can't shake last night's nightmare, a common one for me where the police bust down my door, handcuff and restrain me, then assault and brutalize my family in front of me before killing them and framing me for their crime.
It's a graphic nightmare and what makes it worse is that I'm sure the police could get away with something like that and that some of them would have no twinge of conscience stopping them from doing it. So, I spend my day going over in my head what I would do to try and save some of my family in case it happened... and re-live the nightmare over and over again all day.
Since we are all discouraged from talking about it, I am left to wonder if I alone suffer these nightmares or if others suffer them in silence and fear too. If you do... at least take solace in the fact that you are not alone... and if you feel the need to talk about it, even in private and anonymously, I'm all ears.
...after all, it's bad enough that we were forced to endure one injustice, but it's an continuous injustice to be forced to suffer it and constantly re-live it in silence.
at 1:55 PM
Sunday, February 24, 2008
In a previous article, we had sent out an invitation to Seattle city council members to share with us what their thoughts were on the current police accountability reform efforts and the Seattle Police Officer's Guild's seeming intransigence in regards to those reforms.
Reportedly, the contract negotiations with the guild have recently stalled in the midsts of calls for police accountability improvements which include those made by the council's panel, the SCCPAP, and an additional 29 recommendations from a panel formed by the mayor, the OPARP.
Council member Nick Licata, and one other council member, have been gracious enough to respond to our request and were kind enough to answer a few questions about the current status of accountability reforms. For now, we're posting Nick Licata's response and may follow up with others later.
Thank you, council member Licata.
IiS: What are your feelings about the Police Accountability Review Panel's 29 recommendations?
Nick Licata: I think they are very good. There are other changes could be and should be made but these provide a solid base for creating a more responsive OPA (the SPD's Office of Professional Accountability) and one that could gain greater public confidence in its work.
IiS: What do you think the chances are of the city being able to implement all 29 OPARP recommendations?
Nick Licata: It depends on SPOG (the Seattle Police Guild). I believe that just over half could be adopted immediately without any objection from SPOG. I believe most of the remainder are ones that could be implemented without having to bargain them, however a few may need to be. In any case, having to bargain any particular recommendation means that SPOG will want the City to give them something in return, which is most likely going to take the form of increasing salaries or benefits.
IiS: What do you believe are the biggest roadblocks to getting the guild to accept accountability reforms?
Nick Licata: ...First is simply the City's financial ability to buy them from SPOG. In other words, for a price the City could probably purchase the reforms.
Second, the state law provides SPOG with a very effective roadblock to the City legislating greater police accountability because it allows SPOG to charge the City with unfair labor practices every time a reform could affect the working conditions of their members. This is not unique to Seattle or Washington State, although it is defined in Washington to a greater advantage for unions than I believe it is in other states.
In many ways this is at the crux of the problem that civilian oversight faces across the nation. It is a conflict between well intentioned legislation to protect the rights of union members from management(public bodies) without taking into account the civil rights of citizens who are seeking just and fair treatment from city or county or state employees enforcing the law. Ultimately I believe the courts will have to strike a balance between the publics' civil rights and the police union's employee rights because the only State Legislature could do so and I don't see them doing that.
IiS: Do you think the guild's plans to form picket lines will affect the council's position on accountability reforms?
Nick Licata: I don't know. It will not affect mine. I've walked picket lines many times for protecting employee rights, but as I pointed out, this is a situation where there is a clash between two legitimate concerns; it is not just about employee rights. If they are picketing for increased salaries, then the Council will need to be briefed by the Mayor's negotiators to find out what the full story is.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
No, it isn't what you think, we still focus almost entirely on Seattle police misconduct and detainee abuse issues... but some of our content just got picked up by Reuters and The Chicago Sun Times.
For any new readers, we focus on problems in Seattle because we feel keeping things local are our best chance to making changes, but we also feel it is important that others see what happens here in Seattle to learn from Seattle's failures and successes in our efforts to improve police oversight and accountability.
After all, police misconduct isn't just a Seattle problem.
In any case, thank you for picking us up, and thanks for reading!
Friday, February 22, 2008
If the part of this video where the police have their attack dog drag this man from his car before he even had a chance to get out on his own doesn't make you sick...
Then just wait until a minute into the video when one officer signals another officer and the cop turns to the camera with a big smirk on his face, pulls a packet from his pocket, and plants drugs on this victim of blatant police corruption. Does it make you wonder how many of the millions in US jails and prisons might also be the victims of this sort of corruption?
Now, sure, the video wasn't shot in Seattle... but similar allegations of officers planting drugs aren't new to the Seattle Police Department either.
What's to stop any officer from doing the exact same thing to you or me?
NOTHING... nothing other than a fear of consequences that only a fully functioning, independent, and empowered police accountability program can bring... this is why I live in utter fear of anyone with a badge, and you should to.
Again, not a Seattle story, but a reader sent in this link to a blog that put up the video footage of what occurred a few days ago down at Evergreen College. (Thank you, by the way!)
A few questions pop into my mind after watching the videos and reading the different accounts of what happened.
1. Why did the campus rely on untrained "volunteer" security staff for the event? (Some accounts say the initial disturbance was caused by these "volunteers" pushing their way through the crowd without identifying themselves)
2. Why did the OPD officers rush in aggressively, pepper-spray everyone, and get in over their heads instead of trying to talk the crowd down while waiting for sufficient backup? (The crowd seemed to be somewhat non-threatening until the police officers arrived and instigated the already agitated crowd by being so aggressive, they then had to beat a hasty retreat)
3. Since the police released the man they nabbed anyway, why didn't they release him earlier, before the crowd got so far out of control? (the reason for the crowd's response was reportedly that several concert-goers insisted the man arrested had nothing to do with the disturbance that the police responded to in the first place).
at 2:05 PM
It appears as though an uneasy silence is hovering over the city of Seattle as a few different shoes are preparing to drop... Here's a look at the issues currently waiting for resolution:
The US Department of Justice investigation into deadly constitutional rights violations at the King County Correctional Facility(KCCF) is still ongoing. There have been no new updates from the DOJ nor King County, and judging by past investigations the process averages about 11 months from findings of abuse to legal action, so we anticipate an update by October... In the meantime, while they take their time arguing, more potentially innocent pre-trial detainees are likely suffering abuses and torture.
The Seattle Police Officers Guild is still planning for their march on city hall in an attempt to force the city to drop demands for police accountability reforms while still demanding hefty pay raises during their stalled contract talks. I've requested information from the city to determine when the police union got their permits to picket and what I can do to counter-protest but I've received no reply...
I've issued requests to each member of city council to see where this is heading and to see if they are losing their backbone. If all 29 recommended reforms are not enacted, the civilian oversight and police accountability system in Seattle will remain unreliable, allowing abusive and corrupt officers to escape discipline for misconduct... so don't fall for it if both sides claim progress for implementing a couple reforms and dropping the rest, each item is essential and you can bet that if any item is dropped that it would be a key item in the recommendations.
I'll post an update as I hear more.
UPDATE: So far there has been only one council member who was very kind enough to take the time to respond to our questions about the current situation with the police guild's contract and police accountability reforms. I'm currently deciding between posting individual responses or waiting to post an aggregate if I get any other responses.
I may give it a few more days to see if I hear anything else.
Monday, February 18, 2008
As the Seattle Police Officer's Guild prepares to bully the mayor and city council into backing down on demands for police accountability reforms again, it has been making some rather dishonest claims to the press that have gone unchallenged in the media. Let's take a look at some of the history involved and how it debunks the guild's dishonest statements about how they don't feel the need to fix a system that is currently so easy for bad officers to cheat.
In 1999, several instances of police misconduct came to a head after a police officer was accused of stealing $10,000 from a crime scene. The citizens of Seattle started to realize that the police could no longer police themselves and insisted that a civilian oversight system be implemented. Around that time the number of cities with civilian oversight systems numbered aroun half a dozen, so a commission was formed to analyze those existing systems and make recommendations on how to form one in Seattle.
The commission ultimately made several recommendations, called the "19 point plan", which included that a civilian be appointed within the Police Department to oversee internal investigations. But the commission also said final say on discipline should remain with the chief... as long as the chief provided written explanations when overruling findings of the civilian director.
After arbitration between the guild and the city in 2001, the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) was created, which is headed by a civilian director who oversees SPD internal investigations. Also, the council added a civilian auditor to monitor ongoing internal investigations and a three-member civilian board to routinely review random redacted sample files of closed cases.
But, under pressure from the powerful police officer's guild, the proposals that made or broke the system, especially the one requiring the chief to provide written explanations when he refused to go along with disciplinary recommendations, were never incorporated into the contract. These changes ultimately made the oversight system utterly powerless, the same toothless system we have today.
So, what does the guild say about the current system in their attempt to weaken oversight yet again?
- Today, the guild insists that Seattle has more oversight than any other city, but this is increadibly disengenous.
There are over 70 other cities with civilian oversight provisions, most of which do require written justification from the chief or commissioner concerning disciplinary actions. Some of which even allow the civilian oversight panels to intercede if the written explainations are unsatisfactory or appealed by the complaintant. So, even with the currently proposed changes, Seattle's civilian oversight capabilities would still be woefully underpowered compared to other cities.
- These days the guild proudly claims that it agreed to implement the current system of civilian oversight.
Well, actually, in 2001 it was forced to accept it through arbitration, but was still successful in weakening the oversight system enough to allow it to be completely gamed by bad cops. So this view of their active participation in the building of a civilian oversight system is somewhat skewed, it would be more accurate to say they were responsible for breaking the current system, not helping to build it up.
- Currently the guild is insisting that the department is squeeky clean and that there is no critical need to implement reforms right away.
They said that the first time around as well, hoping to delay the reforms so that public interest died. However, one look to the right of this blog in the news section would indicate that there is a current and critical need for reform. All of those misconduct stories are merely those gathered from the last couple of years... and a VAST majority of them ended in the cheif of police going against OPA recommendations and exonerating officers, or even promoting some of the most violent offenders in his department, as in the Alley-Barnes case that was recently settled and cost the city at least $185,000 (not counting lawyer's fees).
Which brings us to the gaming of the oversight system in place today... One member of the mayor's panel that made the current set of 29 recommendations for fixing the current system has said that "virtually any disciplinary decision made by the chief simply cannot stick. If the rank and file do not like it, the decision is referred to numerous review bodies, on which the Guild is strongly represented. And if this maneuver doesn't overturn the decision or defang it, the matter is referred to bargaining or the courts."
This is why the current chief almost never disciplines any officers, the last officer he fired is currently in process of suing the city for defamation, and the officer he just fired is going to have the guild appeal for him, which only goes to prove the point of how difficult it is to discipline officers in Seattle who have a long history of abuses.
- The guild also says it's interested in talking about the reforms.
However, the guild has already started to threaten lawmakers with recall elections and withdrawl of their financial political support if they press for reforms. This support can be substantial given that the guild also runs the largest private security firm in the city as well as being funded with their member dues, not to mention their substantial political clout.
Also, the guild has made contradictory statements in the press, telling one reporter they are interested in discussing reforms, telling another that maybe the city can buy off the guild for the right price if they really want reforms, and telling others that there will be no discussion of reforms until 2010 at the earliest... again in hopes of stalling reforms and that public demand can be quelled by then.
This is why the guild must be forced to be honest about reforms, because they do not have the public's interest in mind and never did. The only way to do that is with public outcry which forces elected officials to enact all recommended reforms whether the guild likes it or not... then they can talk raises.
But while accountability and oversight are tied to payoffs by the guild, the issue becomes nothing more than an unethical form of extortion, pitting demands for public safety against pure greed and corruption... and we know which one won last time.
*Correction (thanks to an email from a police officer's guild representative): Initially cited the case of an officer accused of stealing a ring from a suicide victim as one of the causes of the original calls for accountability in 1999, it was actually the case of an officer accused of stealing $10,000 from a crime scene (per Seattle Times 07/22/07). The ring theft case was cited as a reason the first panel called for written explainations from the chief when he deviated from recommended disciplinary findings (per historylink.org).
Friday, February 15, 2008
As you may know, the Seattle Police Officer's Guild plans to picket city hall soon, in order to demand a pay raise even though they refuse to accept any police accountability reforms.
In case you're wondering, I am currently checking to see what it takes to legally counter-protest the picket to demand that the SPOG accept all recommended accountability reforms before any talk of pay increases.
If you want to help, even if just to bring a camera to document what happens to me, just let me know. If you don't, I understand... heck I'm petrified of what they'll do to me too, but someone has to take a stand. Sure, I'm not the best suited to do this since have no idea how to go about this and I'm utterly terrified of the Seattle police and their union, but if nobody else more qualified than I am will do it, then I guess it's up to me.
Be careful out there.
UPDATE: Still waiting to hear back from the city on what it takes to leagally protest the police officer's "informational picket line". But, so far, I'll be the only one protesting.
In the meantime, The Stranger blog picked up the story of the planned picket. One responder to the post, a possible police officer named "sixshooter", "warned" other responders that the picketers will be armed.
If anyone has any advice, let me know... Otherwise, I plan on just standing their with a placard that asks the city to not commit to any contract that doesn't have all 29 recommended accountability reforms in it, I'll be quiet and abide by any laws. So if the guild members or on-duty officers rough me up or worse, hopefully someone will be there to capture the thugs on video.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
A while ago I posted about how Bainbridge Island cops were being sued by a lawyer who was manhandled by a cop for giving her husband legal advice over, what ultimately boiled down, to nothing more than a speeding ticket. While it wasn't a Seattle story per se, it tied in with a Seattle story of a woman having her face broken by a Seattle cop for giving a friend legal advice.
...but this led to some rather strange coincidences.
First, I didn't notice when I wrote the piece, but the lawyers in question are actually listed in our miconduct lawyer links section. I've never talked to them, but they were listed on the internet as civil rights lawyers specializing in police misconduct cases so there they are. For those that tell me that critics are less likely to face retaliation for making complaints of police brutality, I guess it appears that not even lawyers are safe from police retaliation here.
But, more than this, somebody posted a link to this site from the Kitsap Sun's website where, apparently, they published a disengenuous article about the incident where they never talked to the woman who was abused nor her attorneys, but comletely took the police department's side of the story. What resulted was the paper falsely stating that her husband had been charged with drunk driving, reckless driving, and speeding and that the woman was also drunk... When the facts were that the only charge that the prosecutor could find evidence to support was speeding and that the two were never tested for nor charged with a drinking related offense.
More than this... The chief of that department is quoted as saying, in the 20 year veteran officer's defense, that he "has incurred no other complaints in at least a year"! If that's not a glowing recommendation... well, never mind, it isn't.
So these lawyers, both without any criminal records and otherwise known as upstanding members of the community, are being villified in the press by police on behalf of an officer who "hasn't had an incident of reported misconduct in at least a year" and who now stands accused of physically assaulting and sexually touching a female lawyer who did nothing more than try to give her husband, who did nothing more than speed, legal advice.
This is what ultimately happens, both here and everywhere else... The people victimized by police who abuse their authority are stuck with legal defense bills, are humiliated and dehumanized by the justice system, and even when declared innocent they are put on trial again by the media and villified again by the same officers and police department that abused them in the first place... and ultimately left without a voice with which to defend themselves against this kind of vicious and brutal assault that can destroy their reputations and their lives.
Something smells fishy on that island... But unfortunately it's nothing new, these cops are using the same tactics they use here and everywhere else that police abuse is condoned. I wish the couple all the best.
UPDATE: Just checked through the original blog I cited for the original story and they definitely beat me to the punch about this story by days and in a much better post than what I put up... Credit where credit is due, and it's due for the Bainbridge Notebook blog.
The Seattle Post Intelligencer ran a piece today that criticized the city for paying a private lawfirm millions of dollars to defend cops in misconduct cases on a no-bid contract. But burried in there is a startling revelation, this lawfirm told the internal investigation unit (the OPA) of the Seattle Police Department to stop investigating misconduct cases when civil rights violation lawsuits were filed because "the risks are it can create information we are not aware of that can harm our case."
Incredible, a private law firm interferes with official police business, hampers investigations, and seeks to cover up violations of federal law... just to protect bad cops?!? And we taxpayers give them MILLIONS to do this?!?
Sam Pailca, the first OPA director "noted in public reports that before the creation of her office, internal investigations of misconduct complaints were often "aborted at the request of outside counsel representing individual officers," primarily Stafford Frey."
While she stopped this practice, she's not there anymore, so we wonder if this practice has started up again?
What's more, it's clear that by paying out millions to protect officers who have committed civil rights violations, such as the case of Ally-Barnes where the city paid the lawfirm $430,000 to settle a $185,000 police brutality claim against the city, that this only encourages bad cops to abuse citizens with impunity because they will never face any real consequences for their actions, especially since the oversight and investigative departments of the SPD will never truly hold them accountable for their misdeeds.
So, not only do abusive cops not face jail time for assault, not only do they not have to worry about being fired, but they also have complete immunity from civil suits that arrise from their own actions that go against federal law and departmental policy. What are you left with if you're a victim of these unaccountable cops? Far less than what the city's lawyers made thanks to your suffering.
Do you know what the term is for a person who has unchecked power over others without any accountabilty? The answer used to be tyrant... but now it's Seattle Police Officer... and the city of Seattle pays MILLIONS of your dollars to a private lawfirm just to keep it that way!
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Today was a fairly busy news day in regards to police misconduct in Seattle.
First there was the Mark Hays trial results, as mentioned below.
Then there was the $20,000 police brutality settlement (was that only what the city paid or the total settlement?) in the Claxton case, as mentioned on the sidebar.
Finally, it seems that the ACLU of Washington has taken it upon themselves to push an initiative to repeal anti-marijuana laws while still remaining silent about the deadly civil rights abuses that have occured in the King County Jail. Hey, I'll admit that I'm staunchly anti-marijuana and anti-drug use so I might be a bit biased concerning the ACLU's priorities, but people are dying in that jail because their civil rights are being violated, this seems more problematic to me than some pot-heads having the right to smoke themselves stupid... especially in Seattle where the government legislated that the police must make pot-related offenses the lowest enforcement priority possible.
What's more, it seems we missed that, on Febuary 8th, the ACLU of Washington issued a letter to encourage the city of Seattle to implement the police accountability reforms that were recommended by the mayor's OPARP panel. Oddly enough, the ACLU addressed this letter to the city council, of all people! The council has been supportive of the reforms, pending their own SCCPAP panel's review, while the Seattle Police Officer's Guild has been insistent in it's reluctance towards oversight improvements... This seems to show how out of touch the ACLU is about the real and severe civil rights issues that exist in Seattle by ignoring the well-publicized problems at the jail and showing their ignorance of the well documented problems with the guild's resistance to oversight reforms at the same time.
With "friends" like this, who needs abusive cops?
The Stranger reports that Mark Hays was found guilty of obstruction and assaulting an officer today, after days of jury deliberation and despite reports that several independent witnesses contradicted police assertions that Hays had attempted to tackle an officer prior to the video taped vicious beating Hays received from undercover officers stemming from nothing more than a jaywalking offense.
The Stranger writer who posted this story is unaware as to whether Hays' defense was permitted to show the SPD dash-mounted video of Hays' head being repeatedly smashed into the pavement by several undercover SPD officers, whether the contradictory witness testimonies from multiple bystanders was permitted in the trial, nor whether the undercover ACT officers' history of misconduct and brutality complaints were permitted either.
There has been no word on whether Hays or Lujan are still pursuing civil cases against the city in relation to this case.
UPDATE: However, there was this reply posted in the comments:
I can tell you that the video was played for the jury multiple times. There was only (one) witness that came forward besides the suspects and added nothing to the night's events besides what was on the video already. Bottom line is: if you witness something like this and are bothered by it--COME FORWARD AND TESTIFY! The fact that there were apparent "witnesses" to the event and no one came forward with a statement ruined Hays' case.
As mentioned previously, there were numerous witnesses who told The Stranger's Jonah Spangenthal-Lee that Hays did not attempt to tackle the undercover officers, contrary to police testimony. But, if the person who posted that comment was at the trial, it appears as though these witnesses were too afraid to come forward and contradict the police at trial.
I have some empathy for those frightened witnesses, experiencing or witnessing police brutality is very traumatic and changes your life forever, it makes you question your basic assumptions about society and it forces you to fear the ease with which police can abuse citizens. But as I say repeatedly... if people don't stand up against abusive officers, they'll be free to brutalize more people. Or, as some people tell me when I waver about writing this blog, the police are more likely to abuse you again if you are a victim instead of a critic.
As the Seattle Police Officer's Guild prepares to march on City Hall, presumably sometime next month, their complaints should be viewed in a historical context. Indeed, for several decades the police officer's union in Seattle (SPOG) has been fighting reforms to oversight and accountability and tying those to it's demands for more pay... and historically winning both battles in contract negotiations.
Indeed, in 1974 SPOG complained that instating limitations on their use of deadly force would spell the end of civilization in Seattle and insisted that their officers needed no guidlines after it was discovered that over 40% of police shooting victims were unarmed, some of which were minors. The city initially insisted that police be authorized to use deadly force only for self defense and the defense of others, but caved and ultimately allowed officers to use deadly force when apprehending anyone suspected of a violent felony.
In 1999 public outcry over police misconduct associated with the WTO protests and several cases of misconduct forced the city to implement civilian oversight into the police accountability equation. Several studies were done and in January 2001 the city entered negotiations with the Guild. By May of 2001 the city had removed nearly all recommendations for accountability reform from it's contract proposal to SPOG. However, SPOG members rejected the contract, which included a 3.5% raise, which allowed the city to retry adding accountability as a bargaining chip against calls for more money.
The two sides entered arbitration and the result was a severely weakened husk of the proposed and recommended accoutability and civilian oversight system that was enacted in November 2001. This is the same system which still suffers from the same limitations today thanks to the guild's constant battle against any attempts to fix the loophole-ridden accountability process... and the guild still got more money in exchange for weakened reforms in what many people called outright extortion by the guild over the public's demands for police oversight.
Indeed, nothing significant has changed since November 2001, but in the summer of 2007, several cases of misconduct that were overturned by the police chief for no stated reason and the release of a video tape that called the testimony of two officers involved in a drug bust into question sparked public outcry for better police accountability again.
Two panels were formed, the OPARP by the mayor and the SCCPAP by the city council, to review the current oversight system and give recommendations to fix it. Some recommendations from the SCCPAP were legislated into existance but have been beaten back by the Guild through litigation. The 29 recommendations from the OPARP are in similar limbo now as the SPOG insists it will not even consider negotiating any accountability reforms until 2010.
Now, in 2008, the guild has refused an offer by the city of an outrageous pay hike of 33.9% for it's members in exchange for allowing the accountability reforms to go forward, going so far as to threaten pickets and lawsuits since the city has made the contract offer public... Again, the guild is insisting that it have an outlandish pay raise that would make them the best paid in the region while utterly refusing to allow abusive officers to be held accountable.
So remember, when you see those pickets crying for more money without any accountability concessions, that the guild has always had its cake and always got to eat it as well... perhaps this time the public should demand a different outcome.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
This blog isn't really about politics, except when it applies to civil rights and police accountability. As such, we weren't going to put any endorsements out there in regards to the national elections and/or primaries.
But, the more we thought about it, the more we started to think about how the race might impact the issues of civil rights and police accountability. While the office of president generally doesn't do much to impact police departments on a local level directly, there are some things they do that have an effect on the powers that the police wield and the kind of oversight that goes with that authority.
Generally speaking, we consider Hillary Clinton's history closely tied with her husband's legacy in regards to law enforcement and as an aspect of her campaign focus.
Given stories like this, which demonstrate the Clinton campaign's support of police departments involved in questionable raids, and no mention of civil rights enforcement on her platform means we cannot support Clinton. (not to mention her husband's expansion of the federal death penalty and raids like Waco and the Elian debacle as well, these are concerns because she is likely to have similar people on her cabinet that Bill did... though, to be fair, Bill Clinton did increase the DOJ Civil Rights Division budget better than both Bush presidents did).
We also view McCain under the light of being a republican, and that the DOJ Department of Civil Rights, which monitors of 'color of law' abuses which include police misconduct and detainee abuse, budgets always suffer under republican led presidencies. Since there is no mention of civil rights on his platform, we cannot throw our support behind him.
This leaves us with Barack Obama, who has specificly pledged to strengthen the civil rights enforcement branches of the DOJ and work on sentencing disparities. Though much of his focus is on voting rights issues, we feel that the effects of strengthening the civil rights enforcement divisions of the DOJ will help address issues of rampant police corruption and detainee abuses, such as those that occur here in Seattle which have been investigated by the DOJ Civil Rights Division.
Therefore, we endorse Barack Obama. It's that simple, if civil rights, police accountability, and respecting the concepts of due process and human rights are important issues to you, there is only one candidate that comes close to addressing these issues at this point in time. Vote for that person if you like the idea of keeping and restoring your constitutionally protected rights.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
The SPD announced yesterday that police chief Gil Kerlikowske finally terminated the employment of a veteran SPD police officer of 29 years. The reasons given for the rare firing were that this officer had used unjustified excessive force, lied to investigators during the investigation into the incident, and then he tried to influence another officer to change his statement about the incident.
The Seattle Police Officer's Guild and at least one other blogger are already trying to spin what happened to defend this officer by focusing on the incident in question. They call the complaintant untrustworthy and say there was no obvious sign of injury. But, those people are ignoring his long history of misconduct and the fact that he lied to investigators about the incident, an incident they claim wasn't a big deal... but was somehow still worth lying about.
In 1986 the same officer was nearly fired in a more famous incident that helped spark the creation of the current Seattle police civilian oversight system when he reportedly attempted to steal a diamond ring from a corpse. A disciplinary panel voted to fire him over the theft charges, but the chief at the time stepped in and reduced his punishment to a brief suspension.
However, in 2004 this same officer got in trouble for interfering with yet another misconduct investigation by instructing another officer not to answer any questions and to warn him about any questions asked about that investigation.
Also, in 2005, he lost a vacation day as discipline for accepting "numerous cases" of soda, meat, and other goods from vendors at a local event while working off-duty, but in his uniform, against departmental policy.
So, now the union insists that he deserves to have due process... I don't know about you, but I never had due process for losing a job, didn't know this was a constitutionally protected right.
His defenders are saying that the police should be held to a lower standard because their jobs are so hard... He already is held to a lower standard because he's not being charged with criminal offenses when a civilian would, he's just being fired and keeping his pension.
In the feedback section of the article, his fellow officers say they would have been more violent with the complaintant, who was abused while handcuffed. They say he should be demoted for being too gentle, but not fired. His supporters and fellow officers say his firing is political, that if the accountability issue wasn't in the news he'd still be on the job and allowed to retire... Of course, if he was a civilian he would have been fired a long time ago and brought up on charges... (and maybe beat up in the back of a squad car while handcuffed like his fellow officers say they do to suspects).
Apparently, the police guild and it's member SPD officers do not care as much about public perception as they say they do... as they prepare for their "informational picket lines" to inform the public about how they should care about their contract talks when the guild refuses to care about the public's demand for better accountability. (see post underneath)
Given recent history, the guild will likely win it's appeal on behalf of this officer, and succeed in further damaging the reputation of it's own employer.
Friday, February 8, 2008
Looks like the Seattle Police Officer's Guild is organizing an "informational picket line" at city hall. The date of the police protest march has not yet been made public.
Citizens fed up with abusive officers and all the money they cost the city's tax payers should organize an informational picket of their own to tell city hall and SPOG members that we don't want to reward officers with pay raises for their bad behavior and their consistent refusal to accept accountability reforms.
Seriously though... I support anyone's right to free speech (on their own time, not the taxpayer's) and I definitely support labor unions and their right to picket (legally)... I also support paying police officers a wage that makes them feel vested in the safety of the communities they serve (as long as they earn it).
But, what the guild is doing is morally reprehensible, in the words of the guild's president, "I’ve told everyone involved that everything is negotiable; it is just a matter of how badly you want it." This proves the guild is holding accountability reforms ransom in exchange for money... it is doing nothing less than blackmail, holding the rights of the citizenry hostage for a payout.
But the SPOG's antagonistic attitude towards the community's calls for accountability and against the city itself is just counterproductive and it's a shame that they feel that they can bully their way into getting pay raises instead of accepting accountability reforms and making ammends with the city to earn a pay raise honestly and with the public's blessing... instead they think if they abuse more citizens they can get a big raise as good old-fashioned "protection money".
I support unionization, my dad was a steelworker and union man... but what the police in Seattle have doesn't act like a union, it acts like an organized crime syndicate.
**Bumped** (The January deadline has passed and still no word. Last I heard from the DOJ, at the end of January, the investigation was still active. We presume it is still active.)
In November of 2007 the US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division issued a scathing report about the unconstitutional conditions and treatment occurring at the King County Jail (KCCF) located in downtown Seattle, Washington. While this facility is managed by King County, it is used to house pre-trial detainees for the Seattle Police Department and other area law enforcement agencies.
The DOJ gave King County until January to address the constitutional rights violations it identified as part of it's investigation which included failures to provide medical treatment to detainees, physical abuse of detainees, sexual abuse of detainees, and a lack of adequate self-harm prevention at the jail. King County responded by agreeing that such conditions exist at the jail but that such conditions were not violations of the US Constitution and the rights guaranteed to US citizens therein.
In our effort to keep track of this case, we sent requests to the US DOJ to clarify the process and to give us an update on what they thought of King County's disturbing response to their investigation, especially since the supposed deadline for King County to address these issues expires tomorrow.
DOJ representatives responded by saying that the investigation is still active and because of this they are limited in what they may discuss. They gave some background on what to expect by stating that:
"...after we issue an investigative report concluding that unconstitutional conditions exist at a facility, we work with the jurisdiction to reach an agreement on remedying the deficiencies we have identified.
If we reach an agreement, that document is posted on our website and becomes a public document.
If, after diligent efforts, we are unable to reach an agreement, then our statute permits the Department of Justice to initiate a lawsuit seeking to compel the jurisdiction to remedy the deficiencies. Any such lawsuit would also be posted on our website and become a public document."
However, when asked for some clarification as to whether there was an enforcement or oversight mechanism that ensured that the jurisdiction followed their agreement if one was reached the DOJ representative didn't answer in time for this article.
Clearly, it appears as thought the county and DOJ are still negotiating terms that would bring the facility into compliance with the Civil Rights for Institutionalized Persons Act, however it is disturbing that there might not be an oversight mechanism that ensures the county complies with its agreement, especially in light of its disturbing public response to the grievous violations.
Given some evidence of collusion between the SPD and KCCF to intentionally withhold medical treatment for some prisoners and the Seattle police force's reluctance to negotiate on oversight reforms sparked by several misconduct cases last year, the prospect of the intentional mistreatment of detainees in Seattle would appear plausible. If such is the case then it's clear, when combined with King County's disregard for the constitutionally protected rights of the accused, that there is ample reason to suspect that the county will not hold up its side of the bargain if they do reach an agreement with the DOJ.
Because of these reasons, there must be some sort of oversight implemented for the King County Jail to ensure it protects the rights of the US citizens it detains in compliance with the US Constitution, federal laws, and international bans on cruel and unusual punishment.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Last month I posted some advice based on one of the steps I take to address my own concerns for my personal safety in regards to my own justified fear of police retaliation. Being that I always have my cellphone on me and a number I know will be recorded on speed dial.
For those who may have thought that it wasn't good advice or a serious suggestion, I ask you to check this story out.
Last February Irshad Amhed was stopped by officers in the Entertainment District. Police smashed his car window, tasered him and dragged him and his passengers out of the vehicle before charging him with resisting arrest. But Amhed is fighting that charge, and he has some strong evidence on his side. Amhed called his lawyer after he was stopped by police and ended up capturing the stormy incident that followed on his attorney's voicemail.
Now, you may say to yourself that statistically it's unlikely that you're going to encounter one of Seattle's abusive cops... but, by simply having your cellphone with you at all times and a phone number that you know will be recorded, like a lawyer's, on speed dial you can greatly improve your chances of prevailing in a case against police misconduct or brutality.
Don't rely on your camera or cellphone camera if it doesn't send video or images directly to another site because police can and probably will erase it. Also, make sure you don't gesture aggressively with the phone or else an officer might shoot you.
If such little effort and forethought can only help, why take the risk of an unprepared encounter with an aggressive and unaccountable cop?
Be careful out there, people.
Well, it isn't a call for a boycott per se, just a recommendation against using it until it is fixed. (see the post below this one)
We could keep going citing case after case of abusive behavior going unpunished... but the common theme is that even when the OPA does find evidence of abuse, the chief of police always exonerates officers or goes against disciplinary recommendations. The system is flawed, it is clearly evidenced that it will not hold officers accountable for misconduct, thus it cannot do anything good for the community nor the victims of police misconduct.
Therefore, since it can only serve to help protect abusive officers by providing the SPD with advanced warning of potential legal action, we recommend against using the SPD OPA for finding redress for incidents of police misconduct.
Since the Seattle Police Officer's Guild insists that it will not consider reforms until 2010 and even then it may not accept all suggested reforms, there is little hope that the system will be fixed for years.
Call it what you will, but we highly recommend against using the OPA for your own benefit until substantial changes are made.
Clarification: Instead of using the OPA, we highly recommend that you immediately contact a lawyer if you are the victim of police misconduct.
Also, if you witness police misconduct, do not report it to the OPA, instead report it to the media or here. If you feel the event was a serious abuse of power, then contact the US DOJ and/or FBI at the links provided on the sidebar as well.
While the DOJ and FBI are unlikely to investigate individual cases, they may be spurred to investigate the Seattle Police Department AGAIN if there are enough complaints.
(NOTE: The previous FBI investigaton ended early after some officers found out about it and tipped other officers off about the undercover FBI investigation into SPD corruption, the chief exonerated officers that were accused of interfering by intimidating officers they thought had cooperated with the investigation.)
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Due to the inability of the City of Seattle to implement all of the OPARP review recommendations to improve police misconduct accountability AS IS, this site has decided to strongly recommend against reporting police abuses through the Seattle Police Department's Office of Professional Accountability (SPD OPA) until further notice.
The reasons for this should be clear, since the OPA process and Seattle's police chief have repeatedly and consistently shown that they are utterly unable to hold officers accountable for misconduct it can only be concluded that reporting instances of misconduct through the SPD's own system of accountability can do nothing positive for abused citizens or the general public.
Additionally, if the process does not help citizens or the public by holding abusive officers accountable, it can then only serve to give the Seattle Police Department 's interensts by giving them the ability to prepare for any anticipated legal actions against them by providing them early warning of potential lawsuits and more time to prepare for cases.
So, since the process is incapable of providing beneficial results to the persons who have been abused by Seattle police officers or protect the community at large... we cannot condone the use of this process as a recourse for those harmed by abusive officers or act as a witness to their abuses.
Therefore, we highly recommend that victims of police brutality DO NOT use the OPA as a police misconduct reporting mechanism.
This site will remove links to the OPA reporting mechanism in the "Reporting Misconduct" link section and post direct links to alternative reporting mechanisms for your use for the time being, including:
Again, we cannot stress this enough, DO NOT REPORT POLICE ABUSES TO THE OPA until the city and the guild can at least implement the recommended reforms proposed by the accountability review panels. Even then, we still STRONGLY recommend that you contact a legal professional that specializes in police misconduct litigation prior to filing any complaints with any agencies.
However, if you still wish to try and use the Seattle Police Department's Office of Professional Accountability misconduct reporting process, you can find the official complaint form here.
The Stranger's SLOG is gloating about how it predicted the eventual outcome of Mayor Greg Nickels' OPARP review recommendations, in that they wouldn't be able to be implemented because of the police guild.
But, what might be more interesting than the article itself is some of the comments, especially this one by LH:
"The Seattle Times reported that "Nickels said 15 recommendations would be implemented immediately by the city, including proposals for the OPA office to have its own budget, for the two oversight agencies to work more closely together and providing more training to staff who conduct internal investigations."
FYI - These are the two actions already taken by the City Council during budget in November 2007. Councilmembers announced early in the budget process their support for one of these objectives. See here:
The budget proposal to fund more training for OPA sergeants is not named in this release, but it was proposed by Councilmember Licata and co-sponsored by CMs Clark and Conlin.
The upshot here being that these two items that the Times says will be implemented immediately and require no bargaining should have been implemented on 1/1/08, at the beginning of a new budget year, per the passage of the 2008 budget.
Also, one of the recommendations the Mayor says must be negotiated is a law already passed by the Council last fall(differing decisions of OPA and Chief documented and reported upon after cases are closed). There are differing opinions about whether it must be negotiated."
Of course, speaking of, we are still waiting for the city council's panel (the SCCPAP) to give a final report on its police oversight recommendations as well.
Well, I've been thinking about taking a break from the blog for a while now, at least until I get started with rehabilitation for my injuries. Besides, the workload from my paying jobs is piling up, my headaches are getting to be intollerable and make it near impossible to concentrate, and it takes me forever to write posts that could probably be written much better by a chimpanzee in half the time and with less spelling errors.
If you want a job that pays nothing, litterally puts your life on the line, and does absolutely nothing for you but make you lots of enimies who have guns and can utterly ruin your life on a whim without any consequences or accountability, then let me know.
Because if that really sounds like something you want to do, then write me and I might just give you author rights to this blog... or suggest a good shrink.
Monday, February 4, 2008
Someone at Normgregory.com posted a video taken of a traffic stop in the central district. While I agree that dispatching 6 SPD cruisers to pull over an elderly man for a traffic violation and then arresting him seems like overkill to me... (some witnesses stated the police made him come out at gunpoint).
at least one of the officers was good enough to walk over to the spectators and person taking the video to answer their questions about what was going on in a rather polite manner. Past incidents (especially this violent one) indicate that they are more incline to arrest people who photograph or videotape them making arrests.
The SPD needs more officers like that if they want to improve their poor relationship with the citizens of this city... but they can only do so much to repair the damage done by overkill displays like that.
Thanks for being diligent and taking that video, keep up the great work!
Sounds like nearby Bainbridge Island police officers are trying to take lessons from the Seattle Police Handbook on How to Brutalize Women Who Give People Legal Advice.
It appears that a local area civil rights lawyer, Kim Koenig, is preparing to file suit against the department for police brutality and false imprisonment after she was choked, manhandled, groped, beaten, and then detained without just cause for an hour and a half before being released.... all for advising her husband on what he should and shouldn't do when they were pulled over for a simple traffic stop.
Full story here at the Bainbridge Notes blog.
PS. Oh yeah, along the same lines of those stories, I'm not even going to get started about how sick this disgusting story out of my old home state of Ohio this story makes me feel.
Honestly, is the idea of treating women with respect and dignity that difficult for police officers to understand these days?!?
In the course of the debate over whether or not the current oversight and accountability system used in Seattle is working and whether the police union (SPOG) will allow recommendations made by two different oversight review panels to be put into place there is a common theme popping up from the police officer's and their union... "We want a fair system".
Well, I do too! Suprise! I am on the police union's side on this issue! I don't want innocent officers punished and I don't want bad cops to be encouraged to keep harming civilians without fear of reprecussions. I too want fairness.
So... With that said... What is a fair system?
Well, currently the system works as follows:
First, a citizen calls, writes, or visits the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) with their complaint. The OPA is staffed with Seattle Police Department officers who were pulled from various duty assignments, such as patrol work, and given minimal training as internal investigators.
Next, an OPA investigator (a police officer) calls the complaintant back and asks to record the entire complaint over the phone or in person, once this recording is made an investigation starts or the complaint is referred to the officer's supervisor for resolution and that's the end of it. If investigated, officers are interviewed by their fellow officers, victims and witnesses may be investigated as well, and any evidence is taken into consideration before a finding is made.
Once a finding is made the OPA gives the cheif a report of the finding, reasons, and a recommended course of action. The cheif takes this into consideration and holds a hearing with the officer in question and a union representative, during this hearing the officer may present additional information not revealed in the report and the cheif may make a ruling that either matches the findings and recommendations or not, without any explaination.
Once the disciplinary hearing is finished, the resulting actions are not open to appeal and not arguable, except if the officer disagrees with the punishment... if so the officer can have the union appeal the disciplinary finding or even take the matter to court with the use of union lawyers. The complaintant cannot appeal, cannot present new facts, and actually has no control over anything that happens once the initial complaint is made.
The civilian review panel (OPARB) and civilian auditor (OPA Auditor) can then, maybe, review redacted versions of the investigations if that specific investigation was one of the few "randomly" selected files that were presented to the OPARB for review. The OPARB can try to make sense of the file full of black marker streaks that block out identifying information and make general remarks in a report to the city council and mayor about trends and recommendations, but have no say in the disciplinary process whatsoever and their recommendations can be ignored without consequence.
In the end, the complaintant may or may not be told of the outcome, and then are not protected frome retaliation from the officers. (remember, one of the recommendations made by the mayor's review panel that are being fought by the union is a policy ammendment that discourages officers from making retaliatory contact with complaintants DURING investigations... nothing is said about what happens afterwards).
So, under the current system, the officer has many people representing him or her, even the prosecution (OPA) is on their side. Meanwhile there is nobody representing the civilian, nobody who believes in that person's case, there is no adversarial system whatsoever in fact. The civilian oversight portion of the system, the small part that is supposedly there to defend the citizen's side of the issue, has no real say in the system or any real ability to change anything at all.
So... the police feel this system is unfair to them... If so, how can it be made more fair?
Well, we could assume that our justice system is fair for defendants, so perhaps an oversight system that mirrored the justice system would be more fair? Officers could be assigned a public defender with minimal resources who is pressured into convincing clients to plead guilty while a prosecutorial unit, with no working relation to that officer or his fellow officers, uses a vast system of governmental personnel and resources to build it's case on behalf of the public which it serves. Meanwhile, the officer is confined to a jail that may mistreat him or her and has to spend money out of his or her own pocket to hire a lawyer and post bail in exchange for temporary freedom. Finally both sides present their case to a judge and/or jury of civilians who rule whether or not the complaint is true, with no chief who can overrule that finding... but only a chance to appeal to another judge somewhere, at more personal cost.(yes, I'm simplifying it, but that's the supposed basis of our adversarial system of justice).
I wonder, would that seem more fair to the officers who complain about the currently "unfair" system that is staffed by fellow officers, can be overruled by an exoneration-happy chief, and hasn't resulted in a significant case of discipline in years? That's the system we civilians have, surely it's not too good for police officers too.
...indeed, what could be more fair than that?
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Well, folks, it appears that Blogger.com (the host of this site) has been at work censoring the site today. If you couldn't tell all of the images have been removed for an unstated reason, even the innocuous header image.
So if the site goes down completely I apologise for that, it won't be me that shuts it down.
**UPDATE** The images are back up, maybe it was a technical glitch, but if it was it is oddly coincidental since I recieved a message from a Lt. Ron Smith on behalf of the Seattle Police Officer's Guild the other day threatening a legal suit if I didn't remove a cartoon they printed in one of the issues of their newsletter, The Guardian, that voices their opposition to Miranda Rights from this site. (I promptly removed the image at their request, but it can still be found HERE at The Stranger)
So, hopefully it was a technical glitch, but it sure seemed wierd that all the images on the site went offline just two days later. And yes, I checked several other blog sites hosted here and none of them had a problem with their images.
Again, if the site gets removed, I'll do what I can to make another someplace else.
Reaction to the Seattle Post Intelligencer article on officers failing to be disciplined for brutality last week drew a storm of responses in that paper's online forums. While many were from citizens who were appalled by the stories of abusive behavior, there were also a number of responses from SPD officers who staunchly defended their right to abuse people when taking them into custody.
Specifically, the officers state over and over again that it is their departmental policy and part of their training that they are not only authorized to exert maximum physical force at the most minimal hint of resistance, but they are required to do so and have been trained to react reflexively in that manner. in fact, when they are referred to training for such incidents of alleged brutality, trainers yell at them for not being aggressive and violent enough. There is no escalation of force policy, no continuum of response policy, it's binary; the maximum amount of pain and damage possible will be inflicted upon you at the slightest hint of resistance, even if it's a reflexive response.
While the police have been trained this way, the public has not, nor has the public been made aware that any sign of non-compliance, passive even, will be met with a violent physical assault. So, to help train you, the public, about how to interact with the Seattle Police, I give you the following examples of what to expect.
Remember this, people of Seattle, your police officers are trained and required by policy to mercilessly and violently assault you if you:
1. Are black and ask an officer a question.
2. If you are a 125 lb woman and pull your arm away when being violently grabbed from behind by a stranger while offering someone legal advice.
3. If you react in any way to seeing your girlfriend accosted by a truckload of unidentified strangers.
4. If you tense up when being handcuffed and arrested for doing nothing but being an innocent young black man walking down the street.
5. If you run because you're an innocent person being chased by a bunch of people with guns who aren't wearing uniforms and didn't identify themselves.
6. If you flinch a bit while having your head repeatedly smashed into the pavement over a jaywalking offense.
7. Or if you react in any way to seeing your daughter getting roughed up over a jaywalking offense.
Remember, if you tense up, if you flinch while being grabbed for doing nothing wrong, if you don't know why you're being attacked, or even if you don't know who is grabbing you, even if you think it might be a criminal instead of an officer attacking you... don't react, don't flinch, don't talk back... because if it's a police officer doing it he's already decided that he's going to hurt you as badly as he can for any excuse he can make up... so you might as well do you're best not to flinch while he's getting his jollies off on beating the life out of you.
...and remember, it's the city's policy that let him do it and he will get away with it no matter if there is video showing officers beating you for no reason or even if there are a ton of independent witnesses AND a video... and remember, the chief of police has not fired an officer in years, and probably never will.
...Even if the department knows the officer lied.
Know this, there will be no remorse about it, no sympathy. Officers will walk past your holding cell and laugh at your injuries and call you names and make crude jokes at your expense. I know this because that's what happened to me... and remember that if you're unlucky, the officers will refuse to let you get medical treatment as a form of punishment too, just like they did to me.
Keep yourselves safe out there people, and consider yourselves warned that the police in Seattle are trained and encouraged to hurt you as badly as possible at the slightest excuse. So, do not approach the police, do not talk to them, don't even look at them... or else you might very well be the next victim I have to write about, like the victims pictured above.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Lately I've been trying to think of what more I could do to help reduce police misconduct and detainee abuses. So if anyone has any suggestions please feel free to let me know... as long as it doesn't involve public speaking (I don't talk well anymore because of my head injuries) or my coming into any contact with a member of the Seattle Police Department because I really don't know what they would do to me if they saw me.
In any case... I've been thinking getting a prepaid phone with voicemail and putting up flyers and posters in various neighborhood urging people to call my number to report instances of police misconduct. I'm thinking the citizens of Seattle would be more inclined to call someone who wasn't a police officer to report cases of police misconduct than they would to call the Seattle Police run Office of Professional Accountability. Trust me, when I called to report what happened to me at the hands of their fellow officers, they were none too polite... and with all the reports of brutality and corruption in the news, I'm sure a lot of people are too afraid to report incidents.
I've already been in contact with some city officials in an effort to discuss accountability issues and that's gone well so far I think, at least they seem to listen and have been trying to improve things. Unfortunately the police union really has the upper-hand against the city's efforts to improve accountability and oversight right now, and the police union is apparently fighting tooth and nail to kill those efforts.
Anyhow... Just let me know if anyone has any reasonable ideas about what I can do to help improve the terrifying police misconduct situation here in Seattle.
Thanks for reading.
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