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Friday, September 12, 2008

A Weekly Misconduct Roundup

I'm contemplating making this a regular feature, rounding up the news of the week both in Seattle and elsewhere, so let me know what you think. (poll has been added above)

Lots of Misconduct In The Year's Best
First, I've been really busy for the last few weeks, if you couldn't tell, so I missed it when One World Report on KBCS 91.3 put out their "End of Summer - Best of One World Report" broadcast (the web page has a few videos to go with the stories too) that included several stories on police misconduct and, amazingly, that July interview with yours truly... Of course, I thought I was horrible as I was really nervous but it ended up sounding alright I guess... but "best of"? Gee, thanks guys!

Smile, You're On Candid Cop Camera

Next, remember that story about the Seattle Police officers who laughed at a reporter when asked if they planned on testing a new personal camera that can be worn by an officer to record interactions in order to help reduce rates of misconduct? Well, sounds like the Seattle Police Department is testing them now. Of course, I think this is a good step in the right direction, but only if there are policies that govern when officers may turn the cameras off and results in automatic discipline when they are turned off inappropriately.

UPDATE: Shortly after learning of the program, the Seattle Police Officer's Guild issued a hasty "cease and desist" letter to the City of Seattle, forcing them to immediately halt testing of the wearable cameras. There are no plans to reinstate the program at this time.

Allowing Americans To Speak Their Minds
Also in Seattle news, Councilman Nick Licata released details today in his newsletter "Urban Politics" about legislation pending before the Public Safety committee that will allow a public comment period or hearing prior to labor negotiations between the Seattle Police Officers Guild and the city's bargaining group about accountability issues the public would like to see addressed during negotiations. We covered that a bit over a month ago, glad to see there's been a little bit of progress there.

Hey, You Politicos
Speaking of politics, I've started research on a piece I plan about the increase of political influence being used by police unions and other LEO organizations, as part of that I've been having problems tracking down the Seattle Police Officer's Guild PAC campaign donation activity as they registered for "mini reporting" (which lets them get by with less stringent reporting about what they do with donations) by stating they only planned on raising less than $3,000 this year but have raised almost 10x that amount, $28,510.88. So, if anyone is good at tracking that sort of thing and wants to help, let me know if you figure out where all their contributions are going.

Now, here are some stories from outside of Seattle:

Bunch of News From Chicago
A Chicago cop has been charged in alleged scheme to plant drugs on an informant's ex-wife and arrest her. The officer now faces charges of perjury, unlawful detention, and other related charges. All this a day after a series of reports ran in Chicago about how hard it is to fire problematic officers, (look at the links at the bottom of that one) and how the city's review board forces the city to hire officers who have problematic histories. (something I covered just a few weeks ago here, it's a problem not unique to Chicago).

Hiring A Molester in Marysville

Maybe those police review boards should read this story about the Marysville Pennsylvania police officer who was hired after being fired from another police department who then went on to allegedly molest 15 young girls. The civil case against the city for failing to investigate claims against the officer was settled today for an undisclosed sum... perhaps if cities would refuse to indemnify members of such boards for civil suits that are the result of their decisions to hire problematic officers they would have second thoughts about doing it.

Yet More Abuses in St. Paul
Finally, while I did some extensive coverage of the systematic abuses that occurred in St. Paul during the Republican National Convention, there are still stories leaking out about abuses that went on even after all the protests and arrests... Of course, I'm talking about how prisoners were abused inside the jails as well. While I did talk about it a bit, I didn't really get the chance yet to give that issue the full accounting that it deserves, but at least others are talking about it, including our good friends over at Western Massachusetts Copwatch and even over at The Stranger where they usually turn a blind eye to detainee abuses, especially the ones that go on right here in Seattle. I plan on doing a comprehensive piece this weekend about it, though writing about jail abuses is a difficult one for me to cover because of my own experiences.

If you have any stories or news items you would like to see covered here, please let me know, and thanks for reading!


FBM said...

The article on PAC activities by police unions sounds very interesting. Here, for a while they were very influential but they've been 0 for 5 on their last endorsed candidates for office actually getting in so they probably are at the point of regrouping.

Packratt said...

Police unions and other LEO groups can have a lot of influence depending on the demographics of where they are located and how organized they are.

Here in Seattle they've been moderately successful and were able to get an ex-cop on city council and seating him as president of the committee that manages the police department.

It's a work in progress, but it should prove interesting.

Thanks for the comment!

FBM said...

One ex-cop on the city council her who was supported by the police union but they had a falling out during his reelection campaign.

I've heard the union is currently very weak. It was fragmented during its last election cycle and has become more so. A bit of infighting. Just in time for their next round of contract negotiation.

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