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Tags police issues , Seattle issues

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Old 29th May 2014, 01:31 PM   #1
luchog
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Seattle Police Want The Right To Beat Suspects

A whole lot of Seattle Police officers have filed a civil rights complaint with the city. Apparently, they are upset that their right to beat suspects and shoot civilians is being taken away. This is the police department that, just a couple years ago, the Department of Justice officially found was the most violent and corrupt in the nation.

http://mynorthwest.com/11/2532174/Se...inst-city-feds

Excerpt:
Quote:
More than 100 Seattle police officers have filed a federal civil rights complaint, arguing that federally imposed use-of-force policies are violating their Constitutional rights.

The complaint filed Wednesday names four officers and references 122 others. It says the new use-of-force policies "unreasonably restrict and burden Plaintiff's right to use force reasonably required, to protect themselves and others, from apparent harm and danger, in violation of the Second, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution."

The set of rules were agreed to by the Seattle Police Department and Department of Justice following a finding by the DOJ that Seattle police officers had resorted to force far too quickly and routinely used excessive force.
Bloody ridiculous, considering how out of control the department has been.
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Old 29th May 2014, 02:15 PM   #2
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This has got to be fake.
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Old 29th May 2014, 02:39 PM   #3
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Quote:
The complaint claims the policies and practices require officers to "under-react to threats of harm until we have no choice but to overreact. This makes it inevitable - although unnecessary and unreasonable - that officers and citizens will get killed or seriously injured."
The bolded sounds to me like it could be a line from a Monty Python script.
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Old 29th May 2014, 03:01 PM   #4
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It's nice that these officers are putting their names forward voluntarily. They presumably can be more closely monitored and given the benefit of no doubt when any excessive force complaints are filed against them.

I don't even know what "under-react" means in this context. Does their current policy include too many hugs of weapon-toting suspects?

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Old 29th May 2014, 04:55 PM   #5
luchog
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Originally Posted by Tony View Post
This has got to be fake.
Unfortunately not, and it's widely reported locally. This is a police department that is routinely in the news for beating suspects and innocent bystanders alike; as well as shooting innocent bystanders and unarmed suspects more often than armed criminals. A month doesn't go by when they don't make the news for some sort of brutality; commonly caught on camera (including their own surveillance cameras, these guys are not rocket surgeons). Speaking of cameras, they also have an endearing habit of harassing and assaulting anyone who tries to video them when they're harassing and assaulting someone else.

As bizarre as this seems, it's not even remotely a surprise to anyone who lives here. I have a friend who is a former Seattle police officer, and quit the PD because of crap like this.
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Old 29th May 2014, 05:40 PM   #6
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The Seattle PD has just put up a statement that the views expressed in the lawsuit are not the views of the department.

I dunno, when nearly a tenth of the dept. is willing to go public with a suit like that, you have to worry just how many people feel that way.

Besides, it's been obvious since the DoJ agreement was hammered out that a lot of cops are expressing their dissatisfaction by lack of policing. Recently there was a fatal shooting a block from our house (oh joy) followed by one 3 blocks away within a day. The police stated that they'd canvassed the area but gotten no information because of the No Snitches ethos.

Only problem was, they hadn't canvassed the neighborhood. In fact they'd ignored people who were ready to give them information. More info here.
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Old 29th May 2014, 05:46 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
The bolded sounds to me like it could be a line from a Monty Python script.
It looks quite straight forward to me: If a police officer is constrained to underreact to a situation then it is possible that a suspect will increase the level of violence to a point where the police officer has only deadly force left as a resort.
This is bad for the officer, suspect and bystanders.

The new policies look as if they encourage this.
the complaint states
Quote:
(2) The new UF policies and practices require - ... - that Plaintiffs use significantly less force than is threatened against the by suspects.
and they note that the increased likelihood of being seriously injured or killed is a violation of the suspects' rights as well as the Plaintiffs.

It sounds as if they are making police officers bring knives to a gun fight .

More seriously, it sounds like an overreaction to the DOJ finding that Seattle police officers had resorted to force far too quickly and routinely used excessive force. That is a training and complaints issue that should not be dealt with by putting the officers, suspects and bystanders in more danger.
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Old 29th May 2014, 05:49 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Tony View Post
This has got to be fake.
Nope. Long-standing problem, feds involved, interim police chief promoted a whole bunch of people the last days of his tenure, leaving new permanent police chief with a fait accompli.

Sort of describes the whole situation, really.

I was also going to reply "not only beat, but also kill deaf men who are carving a chunk of wood while standing in a park frequented by homeless".

And there are quite some other examples of utter overreaction resulting in injury or death to non-cops.
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Old 29th May 2014, 05:53 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
The bolded sounds to me like it could be a line from a Monty Python script.
This is the same PD who kept people in a "free speech zone" during both political rallies and economic summits, and simply swept the streets clean with no distinction between plackard-waving anarchists and foreign tourists minding their own business.

Oh, and the press was not allowed near the free speech zone.

It's more Brazil than Monty Python.
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Old 29th May 2014, 07:03 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Reality Check View Post
It looks quite straight forward to me: If a police officer is constrained to underreact to a situation then it is possible that a suspect will increase the level of violence to a point where the police officer has only deadly force left as a resort.
This is bad for the officer, suspect and bystanders.
It seems to me that, firstly, using deadly force would not then constitute an "overreaction"; the word implies more than necessary, and is ironic because the PD's propensity for overreaction in cases where injurious/deadly force wasn't strictly necessary is what directly led to the very restrictions they now complain about being put into effect.
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Old 29th May 2014, 08:03 PM   #11
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What the heck is wrong with Seattle anyway? Shooting people, beating people, etc. The abuse seems weirdly out of place for a town that isn't an Arkansas backwater. The violent culture of Seattle police has bewildered me, and the fact that the very progressive residents of WA have put up with it so long.
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Old 29th May 2014, 08:25 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
It seems to me that, firstly, using deadly force would not then constitute an "overreaction";
Yes - using deadly force when you need not is an overreaction.
But deadly force in itself is not an overreaction. An officer faced with an armed person who is actively killing people would be acting properly in using deadly force.

The proper action is to use a level of force that maximizes the chances of the suspect being arrested without harming the officer, suspect or public.
A point of the civil rights complaint is that the new policies enforce an "improper" (as in ineffective) action that could lead to more harm.

ETA: My mention of deadly force is an extreme example. I do not know the details of the new policies but they might lead to officers having to use mace/batons/Tasers against knife/gun carrying suspects.

Last edited by Reality Check; 29th May 2014 at 08:31 PM.
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Old 29th May 2014, 10:47 PM   #13
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Why can't these bozos just be fired?
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Old 29th May 2014, 10:49 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Reality Check View Post
Yes - using deadly force when you need not is an overreaction.
You're missing it.

The point of the restrictions is to prevent overreaction, like using unnecessary deadly force.

The officers' complaint is that they are required to "underreact" until a point is reached where they have "no choice" but to overreact.

It's a spurious complaint. They have the option at all times to merely react appropriately rather than overreacting - either immediately or as the result of prolonged "underreacting". Surely if deadly force is an "overreaction" in their own words after a set of escalations on the part of the suspect, it would've also been an overreaction before the suspect escalated things that far.

Using deadly force only in response to a suspect escalating that far is how deadly force is supposed to be used anyway.
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Old 29th May 2014, 10:56 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by corplinx View Post
What the heck is wrong with Seattle anyway? Shooting people, beating people, etc. The abuse seems weirdly out of place for a town that isn't an Arkansas backwater. The violent culture of Seattle police has bewildered me, and the fact that the very progressive residents of WA have put up with it so long.
That is a very good question. There is a very strong (and well supported by organizations as well) moralistic background to the area that results in elected officials like David Reichert, for instance (former King Co Sheriff, famous for overreaction and catching the green river killer) who see their job as to punish as much as possible, rather than keep the police.

The reason that they keep getting those jobs is that nobody wants them.
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Old 29th May 2014, 11:04 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
Using deadly force only in response to a suspect escalating that far is how deadly force is supposed to be used anyway.
Check out this video, it sums up the SPD of a few years ago.
YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE


The guy who is shot for having the knife is the guy walking across the street whittling on a bit of wood. By the way, the guy was near-deaf, had serious hearing problems, and was mentally challenged. There were many witnesses, the guy did nothing at all except finally look around.

Count the shots.

This is why there are issues with the SPD, why the officers hostile, and also why Seattle has a new police chief, who was cynically, deliberately pre-empted by having the interim chief make a huge number of promotions just before he was tossed out.

YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE
is another viewpoint after the shooting.
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Old 29th May 2014, 11:25 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by luchog View Post
This is the police department that, just a couple years ago, the Department of Justice officially found was the most violent and corrupt in the nation.

I thought the Albuquerque police department was giving them a run for their money recently...
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Old 30th May 2014, 01:38 AM   #18
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It's a wonder Seattle has so much more cache than Portland. Why is that? Maybe it has to do with sports teams. Portland only has basketball.

ETA: oh yeah, and the music thing.
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Old 30th May 2014, 04:47 AM   #19
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The Seattle PD males me glad I don't live in Seattle.
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Old 30th May 2014, 04:53 AM   #20
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I was under the impression that American employees were called upon to give up their constitutional rights in employment contracts all the time, the logic being that you don't have to take the job if you don't want to.

Am I mistaken?
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Old 30th May 2014, 07:52 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Cain View Post
It's a wonder Seattle has so much more cache than Portland. Why is that? Maybe it has to do with sports teams. Portland only has basketball.

ETA: oh yeah, and the music thing.
Seattle has a huge and thriving arts scene, and is the second largest technology center after Silicon Valley.

The issue with the PD has been an ongoing one, and is linked to the fact that Seattle elects some of the least desirable officials. Most of Seattle is hard to the left, and few of the far left actually vote. That leaves the elections to be controlled by the religious right; which has a substantial presence outside the core. Combine that with a huge influence from the moneyed Eastsiders in the form of Tim Eyman, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to abuse the Initiative system, to benefit the rich and powerful and spread massive amounts of misinformation. The city government is hugely corrupt, riddled with cronyism, which has resulted in ludicrous over-development and the destruction of low-income neighborhoods. Our public transportation system is slowly but steadily degrading, also in large part due to the big-money Eastsiders who effectively run the city at this point.

The mayor is effectively trying to turn the Seattle core into yuppie Manhattan, and drive out families. The police have had a long-standing adversarial relationship with the GLBT community, which has gotten worse with the near-complete loss of the Capitol Hill neighborhood as the GLBT center of the city thanks to over-development and yuppification (and a corresponding increase in gay bashing). The city also has consistently refused to do anything effective about the homeless problem, aside from one small shelter that the voters managed to ram through a number of years ago. They treat the homeless as an eyesore rather than a human problem; and their reaction consists of little more than rousting them out of one part of town as soon as the local businesses start to complain about their presence; and force them into another part of town until the businesses there start to complain. Oh, and shutting down any tent cities that happen to pop up.

And another thing that hasn't been mentioned about the PD is the pervasive cronyism there as well. The previous administration was more interested in funding pet projects over actual policing. They shut down their gang unit claiming it was "no longer necessary", despite a growing upsurge in gang-related violence; and have been strenuously resisting community policing and civilian oversight. When the DoJ published their findings on Seattle PD violence and corruption, their immediate response was to castigate the DoJ for "inappropriately" releasing their findings. According to the administration, the "appropriate" time to bring it up would have been at their next contract negotiation.

There's a lot to love about Seattle culture; but there's also a lot to despise about Seattle government.
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Old 30th May 2014, 08:08 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
I was under the impression that American employees were called upon to give up their constitutional rights in employment contracts all the time, the logic being that you don't have to take the job if you don't want to.

Am I mistaken?
What constitutional right do you think employees give up?
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Old 30th May 2014, 08:41 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
I was under the impression that American employees were called upon to give up their constitutional rights in employment contracts all the time, the logic being that you don't have to take the job if you don't want to.

Am I mistaken?
This is not how The Constitution works.
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Old 30th May 2014, 09:15 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by I Am The Scum View Post
This is not how The Constitution works.
Actually, it is. The Constitution protects citizens from abuses by the government. But an employer can fire you for pretty much any reason that isn't prohibited by law. You publicly disparage the employer or its products? You're out. You engage in off-duty political activities that the employer doesn't like? Buh-bye. You conceal information about yourself that the employer thinks it should know? So long. You'll be screaming "free speech," "due process," etc., etc. as you're booted out the door. And a wrongful termination suit is expensive and hard to win. When you take a job you accept the employer's rules.

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Old 30th May 2014, 09:19 AM   #25
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I wasn't born in Washington, but I lived in Seattle for twenty years and still consider it my home.

My thought is that the Seattle citizens need to get together for their own class-action lawsuit against the entire Seattle PD claiming deprivation of rights under color of law (which essentially says that the cops knew or should have known that what they were doing was illegal and their qualified immunity would no longer shield them) and general human rights violations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights which all have equal status as federal law and are binding on local law enforcement as well.

The entire membership of the Seattle PD should be disgraced and humiliated at such atrocious behavior especially so with this frivolous lawsuit.
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Old 30th May 2014, 09:25 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by luchog View Post
....

The issue with the PD has been an ongoing one, and is linked to the fact that Seattle elects some of the least desirable officials. Most of Seattle is hard to the left, and few of the far left actually vote.
.....
Why? I can understand a general lack of interest in politics among the arts crowd. But when you see your city being run so badly, isn't that an incentive to get to the polls? Are there no moderate candidates seeking support from the left-leaning crowd? And who hires the police chief? Is he elected, appointed by the mayor, hired by the city council or what? Who does he answer to?
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Old 30th May 2014, 09:47 AM   #27
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The police chief is appointed by the mayor. The mayor's campaigns of late have been funded by big developers, it would appear. Even the ones who seem decently progressive get into office and everything stays business as usual. Some of this is the fault of the City Council too, I'm sure.

Seattle's politics have been corrupt since there was a Seattle. Nothing changes. Perhaps they need to do a complete clean sweep of all the politicians and cops and start fresh.
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Old 30th May 2014, 10:06 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by jj View Post
Check out this video, it sums up the SPD of a few years ago.
YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE

Kind of like the Albuquerque PD of today.
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Old 30th May 2014, 10:55 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Spindrift View Post
What constitutional right do you think employees give up?

Second amendment rights when at work.

Lack of freedom from unreasonable searches during assessment process and subsequent employment

Lack of freedom of association.


I stress that this is just an impression that I have from reading US news and the like. I have no idea how accurate it is.
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Old 30th May 2014, 10:56 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by I Am The Scum View Post
This is not how The Constitution works.
Could you expand on that?
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Old 30th May 2014, 11:09 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
Second amendment rights when at work.

Lack of freedom from unreasonable searches during assessment process and subsequent employment

Lack of freedom of association.


I stress that this is just an impression that I have from reading US news and the like. I have no idea how accurate it is.
None of those things are constitutional rights within a private business.
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Old 30th May 2014, 11:23 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Spindrift View Post
None of those things are constitutional rights within a private business.

But they are generally? Outside of business? So, the constitution doesn't apply between an employer and and employee? Which is what I was speculating on in the first place?

Or...

Are you saying that constitutional rights are only in force when considering a relationship between the private citizens and the government?
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Old 30th May 2014, 11:40 AM   #33
mijopaalmc
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
But they are generally? Outside of business? So, the constitution doesn't apply between an employer and and employee? Which is what I was speculating on in the first place?

Or...

Are you saying that constitutional rights are only in force when considering a relationship between the private citizens and the government?
It's be said once before, but it bears repeating:

The Constitution specifically limits the power of the Government, not private institutions

Got that?
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Old 30th May 2014, 11:44 AM   #34
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What mijopaalmc said.

When you see references to people claiming their constitutional rights have been violated on the news and the like, those people usually have no idea what the constitution actually says.
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Old 30th May 2014, 12:38 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
Second amendment rights when at work.

Lack of freedom from unreasonable searches during assessment process and subsequent employment

Lack of freedom of association.


I stress that this is just an impression that I have from reading US news and the like. I have no idea how accurate it is.
The right to posses a firearm doesn't mean you have the right to be armed on the private property of someone else.

Yes, a business might hesitate to hire a person who has a history of theft. Do you think it is unreasonable for them to inquire about this?

Running a hobby club on company time is something every employee has a right to do.

When you are employed the employer is purchasing some of your time for their use. That means you don't have the right to pontificate religious / political / hobbyist ideology on their time. My former employer required me to sign a nondisclosure agreement not to release technology developments to our rivals. This is clearly a violation of my free speech rights. Do you really think this is unreasonable?
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Old 30th May 2014, 12:59 PM   #36
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These guys need to resign in protest. Now. And never work in LE again.
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Old 30th May 2014, 01:18 PM   #37
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This is also the dept that's been caught installing devices that would track every cell signal in the downtown area for their own devices, without any oversight or permission from the rest of the city. Purchasing drones for surveillance, again without any oversight or permission from city government.

They've been castigated by the courts for stonewalling requests made under the Freedom of Information act, especially for the video footage from their cars, which gets "lost" or corrupted with shocking regularity.

One of the big issues is that the police claim they can't afford to live in Seattle. Well, perhaps they can't live in the neighborhoods they'd prefer to live in. Anyway, they live in the nice tidy (very white and conservative) bedroom communities for the most part, and think of the city as a cesspool of crime and violence, particularly the sections of the city south of the Ship Canal, which was the old redline for realtors. It's not their city, and they have no affection for it at all.

And state law is written in such a way that it's almost impossible to make any sort of charges stick against a cop. That's why Ian Birk's only punishment was being allowed to resign from the force. As long as he testified that he felt endangered by John T. Williams, it didn't matter what the witnesses and forensic evidence showed. He claimed Williams came at him with the knife. When the evidence showed he'd left his car (without calling anything in), drawing his gun, and shot Williams before he could even turn around, he just stuck to his statement that he'd felt endangered, and there was nothing more that could be legally done.

A lot of noise was made about fixing that law, but in this political climate, no legislator wants to be seen as soft on crime or anti-police, so the law will remain that way, getting cops off the hook for almost anything they do. And even when cops do get disciplined, all it takes is one higher-up to veto the discipline and expunge the record.

Seattle is a wonderful place, it just needs some serious governmental fixing.
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Old 30th May 2014, 01:22 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by corplinx View Post
What the heck is wrong with Seattle anyway? Shooting people, beating people, etc. The abuse seems weirdly out of place for a town that isn't an Arkansas backwater. The violent culture of Seattle police has bewildered me, and the fact that the very progressive residents of WA have put up with it so long.
Common misconception dating back to the civil rights era that southern LEA's were somehow an aberration in their treatment of citizens - lots of northern LEA's were quick with the hoses and dogs too.
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Old 30th May 2014, 03:40 PM   #39
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You also have to remember that Seattle is just a progressive city in a state that's otherwise known for its mass murderers, tea party activists, and white supremacists. This used to be the state where people moved to get as far away from everyone else as they could without leaving the contiguous states. We're all eccentrics, pretty much, but in vastly different ways.
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Old 30th May 2014, 09:06 PM   #40
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I can't really comment on the conditions in Seattle... It's apparent that like many big-city departments they have their problems.
However, I've been in police work for a long time, since '68, and I can comment on the generally-changing attitudes in regards to "use of force" issues.

When I started, we could shoot at "fleeing felons". No problem. Fire away. Someone running from a burglary scene, an armed robbery... Could expect to encounter a hail of bullets.
Frequently people involved in car chases were fired upon. That was just what you did.

It very rapidly changed. SCOTUS made a couple of rulings regarding due process and such and it was decided that things like shooting at fleeing individuals and firing warning shots were out.
Many of us predicted that this would greatly hamper police work. Why, they'd just run away!
That didn't happen...
Most all police agencies limited the use of deadly force to very specific circumstances.

Likewise with the use of "less than lethal" force...

Again, in '68, we were encouraged to buy a nightstick and to use it freely. There was no training. "whack 'em in the head". That was pretty much the paradigm. Other devices like the "slapper", the "blackjack", the weighted gloves and similar impact weapons were very widely used.
Liability concerns started changing such practices long around the mid-80s. Whacking people in the head caused brain damage. Very large lawsuits were filed on behalf of folks who had been beaten and they were winning large judgements.
Departments began to re-think "use of force" policies.

The paradigm became the "continuum of force" where police could tailor their own use of force depending on the level of resistance or assault used by the suspect.
Police began to carry more "tools". The pepper-spray, the Taser, the nightstick, the gun.
In addition, extensive training in "defensive tactics" emphasized methods of control that would hopefully subdue the suspect without seriously harming him.
(I'm a certified instructor in one of these systems, the "PPCT" or "Pressure Point Control Tactics" system.)

There has been general adoption of these sorts of policies and training in a very wide cross-section of police agencies in the country. Anyone wanting the desirable certification by the International Law Enforcement Certification Agency must have these sorts of policies and training in place.

However... All that stuff is expensive and many departments across the country simply do not participate for reasons of cost or simply of a departmental or governmental "culture" that doesn't feel the need.
We have seen departments with a culture of abuses, as in the large-scale scandals involving the LAPD not too long ago.
When you begin to see abuses going on generally, you suspect there is a serious problem with the culture of the department, it's hiring and training practices, and it's general attitude towards citizen complaints and lawsuits and the like.

I never care to jump in with opinions on individual cases without knowing the actual facts. The recent shooting of the mentally-ill Sikh veteran is a case in point. In filing a "wrongful death" lawsuit, the family has effectively prevented the police department from making any public statement.
Whatever the actual facts of the incident were, they will have to be disclosed in court.

The fellow was known to have mental problems and was known to be violent. Police had dealt with him before on several occasions... And the family had called for assistance.
The fellow was apparently armed with a knife.... Whether this was the essentially-ceremonial "kirpan" known to Sikhs or something else we were not told. We were told that the fellow "rushed" the officers while armed with whatever sort of knife this was.
Was this "suicide by cop?" Should the officers have tried to use pepper-spray or Taser? That would depend on the tactical situation.
Trying to Taser an individual who is actively charging you with a knife is foolish.
Whatever went down, it'll come out in court.
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