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This was an interesting part of the report, from page 12:

The OPA determined the Officers were “exonerated” on the issue of honesty.34 A finding of “exonerated” means that a preponderance of the evidence indicates the conduct alleged did occur, but that the conduct was justified, lawful and proper.

Unless I'm reading that incorrectly, to me, that's saying that the OPA felt that certain types of police officer dishonesty can be "justified, lawful, or proper". When you're talking about drug law enforcement, that's a big giant red flag.

Posted by thehim | July 12, 2007 2:09 PM

I read your article, and I didn't draw the same conclusions you did, Josh.

Depends on what the meaning of IS is.

It's not the same as say, a law, where there is a clear difference between Should, Shall, Will, May, and Can.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 12, 2007 2:36 PM

Josh -- Yes, please READ THE REPORT. You've got the grading system backwards.

"Exonerated" (in OPA context) means "they did it, but it's OK".

"Not sustained" means "we can't tell whether they did it or not". That's MORE favorable to the officers.

When Olson writes

I would have recommended at least a finding of “not sustained”
(emphasis mine) it means she leans toward "unfounded", i.e., "didn't even do it", but grants the available evidence is inconclusive ... making "not sustained" a permissible interpretation of the same facts.

Also, please take note of what the "IT" is in this discussion. IT is an Honesty allegation ... but it's not an allegation of dishonesty in planting drugs or framing patterson. IT is an allegation of failing to be "complete and accurate" in subsequent review -- which allegation Olson finds likely "unfounded" and unequivocally "not sustained".

Posted by RonK, Seattle | July 12, 2007 3:16 PM

Reconstructing Josh's letter-grading system:

"Sustained" is an F. Alleged conduct occurred, and discipline ensues.

"Supervisory Intervention" is a D. Alleged conduct occurred, and remedial training ensues.

"Exonerated" is a C. The alleged conduct occurred, but was justified or otherwise not illegal or improper under the circumstances.

"Not Sustained" is a B. The alleged conduct may or may not have occurred.

"Unfounded" is an A. The alleged conduct did not occur.

Hope this helps!

Posted by RonK, Seattle | July 12, 2007 3:28 PM

See this video of what citizen-police interactions have escalated to in New York City. This guy is getting tossed around and kicked by police who are fully aware of the fact that the other guy is standing there with a camera, videotaping them.

I don't know what the context is, and I don't care -- they're not trying to arrest the guy. He's not fleeing. He's on a public sidewalk.

Posted by Phil M | July 12, 2007 4:36 PM

I think you're misreading the report, Josh. All she says is that there isn't enough evidence to say that the cops lied in this case. Her slight difference of opinion with the final OPA report wouldn't have resulted in her disciplining the cops, who she said "were not necessarily forthcoming but not outright deceptive", whatever that means. She doesn't find the need for a single serious reform of the complaint review/ investigation process. In this context, you're attaching too much hope to the words "at least". What kind of scolding recommends no discipline?

It might be too technical for slog, but there needs to be a thorough debunking of Olson's report. I guess the OPARB is going to respond. But we need more voices to cut through all the bullshit (compounded by RonK).

For instance, I think the report completely misinterprets the Civilian Auditor's criticisms, and Olson's use of her interview with Sam Pailca to justify the Chief's intervention in the Patterson case extremely manipulative and weasel-like given how the Chief has been scapegoating Sam on the Alley Barnes case. Olson's selective use of the forensics expert testimony, which documented how and in what ways the cops had lied, just to say that he was not a judge of what excessive force is, ignored his insights to disprove a point he wasn't trying to make. Even though she leaves open the possibility that the cops might have lied, her finding that their use of force was justified rests upon the cops having told the truth. AND ON AND ON.

Posted by Trevor | July 12, 2007 4:43 PM

Exonerated A
Unfounded B
Supervisory C
Not Sustained D
Sustained F

In moving away from Exonerated with a Not Susatined, she's moving from A to D. To say at least (in that context), she means she would have moved away from an A at least that far. That means D or worse.

Posted by Josh Feit | July 12, 2007 5:39 PM

Ron's explanation is convincing, but I'm much more likely to trust Josh's (assuming the comment really came from Josh Feit, which we must only assume since Slog allows anyone to post a comment as anyone).

Can someone cite sources to back any of this up?

Posted by Phil M | July 12, 2007 6:38 PM

Josh's ABCDF is plain wacko, which he culd confirm by querying any of the principals on any side of the controversy. "Not Sustained" (we don't know if he did it) is wore than "Supervisory" (he did it, and that's not how we want our officers to behave, but the solution is training, not punishment)?

You could make a case that "Exonerated" (he did it, but it's OK) is even better than "Unfounded" (he didn't do it), but you still have to deal with Olson's clear preference for Unfounded (READ THE REPORT, and the footnotes).

And no bullshit, Trevor. The finding of justified use of force in no way depends on the officers' honesty, dishonesty, or other conduct or misconduct.

Posted by RonK, Seattle | July 12, 2007 9:58 PM

No bullshit, RonK. It's not "justified, lawful and proper" to search someone's mouth for three and a half minutes when you never saw him put drugs in there in the first place.

Posted by Trevor | July 12, 2007 11:41 PM

Trevor, READ THE REPORT. That's not the allegation we're discussing here. (Nor was it upheld by OPA, or OPARB, or Pflaumer, or any other competent reviewer, or Frederick.)

Nice diversionary gibe.

Posted by RonK, Seattle | July 13, 2007 9:31 AM

No bullshit, RonK. It's not "justified, lawful and proper" to search someone's mouth for three and a half minutes when you never saw him put drugs in there in the first place.

Exactly. And Ron, I've read the entire report. I'm still very far from convinced that the behavior of Officers Neubert and Tietjen was acceptable. I've followed way too many cases of this nature to accept without question any of the additional evidence presented in this report. When it comes to most crimes, cops know they have to be extra careful about their accuracy in order to get convictions. The fact that the officer's report was so mismatched from the video shows that we have a problem that is obviously larger than the police, but shouldn't be swept under the rug by the chief.

Posted by thehim | July 13, 2007 10:56 AM

Lee - We were discussing Feit's contention that Olson's conclusion on the dishonesty count was more severe than OPA or the Chief's, based on his permutations of the order of findings.

Do you find his A-B-C-D-F order plausible? Or is it the sort of desperation-driven ancillary hypothesis a true believer manufactures when a plain reading of the text goes against the conclusions to which he leapt and to which he swore so prematurely?

Posted by RonK, Seattle | July 13, 2007 11:44 AM

Do you find his A-B-C-D-F order plausible?

No, I tend to agree with Trevor that he's misreading it. But I also believe that you're being quite a bit more naive in this whole episode than he is.

Posted by thehim | July 13, 2007 2:36 PM

Lee @ 14 -- When we take it one point of fact at a time, "this whole episode" comes to nothing.

You have deeply-held beliefs regarding conventional drugs laws and drug enforcement policies. Fine.

You can still hold those beliefs without engaging in make-believe regarding the Patterson case.

What you see on the Walgreens tape is not "acceptable" according to your beliefs on police procedure. Fine.

But you do realize that law and society share a different standard -- the standard everyone on all sides of the official proceedings applied in finding that what you see on the tape is appropriate use of force.

You can keep or change your views on police procedure, independent of your views on drug control policy ... but how could you possibly insist that the Chief should adjudicated the Patterson incident based on your views, and not the consensus of law and regulation he's sworn to uphold?

Would it not be improper -- indefensible even -- for the Chief to say "you boys did it all by the book, but I'm busting you anyway"?

Your complaint is not with Neubert and Tietjen, or with Kerlikowske, or with SPD, or with OPA. It's with the society you live in ... and that's no reason to join in resuscitating a trumped-up race-baiting smear story, or to pretend you can discern others' mental states based on their acknowledgement of plain fact or the color of their skins.

Posted by RonK, Seattle | July 13, 2007 3:56 PM

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