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Seattle Leaders Try and FAIL to Spin Department of Justice Investigation of Police Department

April 1, 2011


When the Department of Justice revealed it will conduct a thorough review of civil-rights practices by Seattle Police officers, listening to the City’s leaders, you’d think announcement was a stamp of approval on a job well-done.

Dozens of organizations including the ACLU, wrote to the DOJ asking for an investigation into the department after multiple video accounts of questionable behavior against minority residents came to light, dredging up the irrefutable stench of racial bias and discrimination by officers.

The decision by the DOJ comes months after it initially agreed to give a cursory review of SPD’s most recent controversial incidents, including the shooting death of John Williams.

Civil rights organizations have beseeched the DOJ and even the FBI to take action in the past, to no avail. Until now.

The probability of discrimination, excessive force and general acts of wrongdoing by police officers in Seattle has become too rampant to discount. In short, Seattle, we have a problem. In fact, we’ve had a problem for a while.

But if you listen to Seattle’s leaders, the DOJ decision signals nothing more than how epically awesome our police department is, and that its officers –all of its officers- are model cops who never ever do anything wrong.

Mayor McGinn touts the city’s cooperation with the investigation. But that’s nothing more than a big fat no-brainer, Mr. Mayor. You’re supposed to cooperate, save being dragged into court by the DOJ as the police department’s misdeeds are pinned to the line for all to see. Seattle doesn’t air its dirty laundry like that.  Instead the city cooperates. Lots of smiling and backslapping and feigned ignorance mixed with appropriate utterances of outrage whenever wrongdoing is irrefutable.

SPD Chief Diaz says the investigation amounts to nothing more than a free audit of the department, and who doesn’t love a free audit, right?  If you believe the Chief, we just won the friggin’ lottery.  And the working relationship between the DOJ and SPD? It’s awesome! SPD is transparent, it’s open to any critical eye. Because that’s what progressive hipsters do, and Seattle is nothing if not progressive and hip.

Sgt. Rich O’Neill announced to the media his unwavering confidence the DOJ will fine zilch in its investigation; no systemic problems, no instances of excessive force by officers.  It’s a putrid confidence overwhelmed with arrogance and blind allegiance to an “us versus them” concept of policing which, ironically, is exactly the kind of policing that encourages brutality and excessive force.

An SPD officer can be caught beating, stomping, threatening or even killing someone under (at best) questionable circumstances and Sgt. O’Neill will only ever sing their praises.  He’ll lecture the media and the public about the job of being a cop, and the complexities of the job us mere mortals could never wrap our brains around.

If you believe this DOJ investigation isn’t a sign of a police department in crisis, then I’ve got two courtside seats to the next Sonics game at Key Arena for you. Say hi to Gary Payton for me.


Anyone interested in providing information that may be of use as part of the DOJ’s investigation of the Seattle Police Department for having a “pattern or practice” of excessive use of force and racial discrimination can contact the DOJ directly:

Seattle Police Department Investigation
c/o J. Michael Diaz
Assistant United States Attorney
United States Attorney’s Office, Western District of Washington
700 Stewart Street, Suite 5220
Seattle, WA 98101-1271
(855) 203-4479 (toll free number)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Alexjon permalink
    April 1, 2011 9:54 am

    It’s sort of a rolling downhill thing, from the “meh”-worthy reaction of McGinn to the outrageous pompousness of O’Neill (Pomper-ousness?).

    The Meh-yorship of McGinn may not be one of striking progress, and it certainly has its screw-ups, but at least he doesn’t trot out the big distractions like He Who Shall Not Be Named. If McGinn was that guy, he’d probably grade himself on handling the DOJ investigation, hang a death certificate in his office and then totally forget to actually do anything. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    McGinn sorta stands there in the frying pan while everyone else at 5th and James leaps into the fire.

    Then again, he could suddenly pull a Gregoire and scream “THERE ARE NO PROBLEMS, EVERYTHING IS FINE, SHUT UP, oh and by the way, I’m unfunding all your social programs.”

  2. April 1, 2011 10:47 am

    and with the recently announced additional $17m budget shortfall that Seattle has to cope with, that could still happen. Let’s hope not. He’s done well by human services so far. Keep it up, Mister Mayor.

  3. Alexjon permalink
    April 1, 2011 10:13 pm

    And really, in this kind of recession the human services should be the main focus. Before we help ourselves, we should help our friends and families.

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