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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Police Union Defends An Officer With A History

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.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, chief. You may finally start gaining some credibility for the SPD.

Packratt said...

Well, I'd be the first to say it's a step in the right direction for once... But looking at this officer's history it seems to me that he should have been fired a long time ago and that, given he'll still get his pension, it's more of an early retirement than a disciplinary termination.

But, at least it's one less bad cop on the streets of Seattle... Unless the guild wins it's appeal to get him reinstated.

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