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Monday, February 24, 2014

THIS Is How You Tell Cops That Misconduct Will Not Be Tolerated

Posted by on Mon, Feb 24, 2014 at 5:38 PM

Want a case study in how two police departments that operate in Seattle speak differently to their cops about misconduct?

1. As Slog readers know, the Seattle mayor and police chief repealed an officer's punishment last Thursday under pressure from the police union, and then, when political and media blow-back reached hurricane force, reinstated the misconduct verdict this morning in a hastily called press conference. They also said the city is reconsidering several more officer punishments. Here's the message that sends to cops: Sometimes you can get away with misconduct and sometimes you can't. Terrible message.

2. The King County Sheriff's office is a different story. Sheriff John Urquhart posted a YouTube video message to his deputies last Wednesday that, after some nice stuff about how swell the cops are, warns them that misconduct is unacceptable and officers will be fired:

Click for video
  • Click for video

"I have terminated over a dozen people last year," says Urquhart. He goes on to explain why he fired a deputy involved in the same incident as the SPD officer I mentioned above. He also details reasoning for other terminations.

"I was elected on the heels of two very devastating audits of our organization," Urquhart continues. "One audit in particular was extremely critical. A major point in the audit was a lack of accountability in the sheriff's office. The employees were not being held accountable for their actions. That puts the trust of the citizens we serve at risk. I am not willing to lose that trust. So make no mistake, I intend to hold people in the sheriff's office accountable. Everyone must honor the law enforcement code of ethics and follow our general orders manual. I expect all ranks to be on board with this."

"You have the power to arrest, to take away somebody's freedom. Society confers on you that very unique responsibility," says Sheriff Urquhart. "But it is to be used with respect and it is to be used without violating constitutional or civil rights."

In other words, King County is doing what Seattle is not doing: making clear what conduct is acceptable and unacceptable—and actually punishing the unacceptable behavior—then sending that message directly to cops. Sheriff Urquhart is doing this right.


Comments (40) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Urquhart has demonstrated real leadership in his time in office. He is upholding accountability, and emphasizing at the same time that he cares about the people who work for him. He starts out by praising them and calling out those going above and beyond, as well as certain operational difficulties. Then he goes Spiderman on them, with great power comes great responsibility.

Murray, THIS is what leadership looks like.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on February 24, 2014 at 5:52 PM · Report this
seandr 2
I think we'd get better results if the SPD chief was, like the Sheriff, an elected position.
Posted by seandr on February 24, 2014 at 6:02 PM · Report this
Good article, except you should have referenced Goofus and Gallant.
Posted by bobbyjoe on February 24, 2014 at 6:13 PM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 4
Hear, hear. One reason I'm glad the current chief is only an interim. I hope against hope that the permanent chief is one whose attitude, experience, and political fortitude are much closer to the sheriff's than we've had the last few years.
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on February 24, 2014 at 6:40 PM · Report this
Thanks for linking us to this Dominic. I am truly impressed by Urquhart's professionalism on display in this video. I can't understand why so many people insist on defending SPDs practices when they can be so obviously contrasted against King County. THIS is what a good cop should say, but you will never hear a statement like this from SPD.
Posted by QRRR on February 24, 2014 at 6:41 PM · Report this
What a perfect study in contrasts. What does it say about where we are as a society: the head of a law enforcement agency tells his officers "abuse your power and you will be fired", and it's a pleasant surprise.
Posted by Eric from Boulder on February 24, 2014 at 6:51 PM · Report this
The Sheriff's department still has a long way to go, but at this point it at least appears he means to work aggressively to make real changes
Posted by myr on February 24, 2014 at 6:51 PM · Report this
It sounds as if SPD is just as bad now as it was when I lived in Seattle in the 70 and 80s. Sorry that you have to put up with that.
Posted by PaulBarwick on February 24, 2014 at 6:52 PM · Report this
Cops shot an unarmed man on our dead end street last year in his car while he was blocked in by an armored swat tank. When I googled for more info about the incident I learned tragic actions like this are not isolated. Yet all you guys can fucking talk about is some dickhead cop who was rude to you? Incredible! News flash: cops are dicks ALL THE TIME! Please drop the ego and personal vendetta and do some reporting on the numerous more substantial issues that involve our cops!!!
Posted by Upchuck on February 24, 2014 at 7:11 PM · Report this
A cop once yelled at me and called me an asshole for challenging his instructions to not cross the street in the crosswalk after the red hand started blinking. That jerk. I wish I was a stranger reporter so I could do a dozen stories about him and get him a day suspension and a day training (while distracting the public from more serious issues!!!!)
Posted by Upchuck on February 24, 2014 at 7:15 PM · Report this
Dominic, you need to calm down. The officer threatened to "bother" you. Okay, stupid thing to say. But fire him? Come on. Get some perspective and quit trying to elevate yourself into a new Rosa Parks.
Posted by Whoa, Nelly! on February 24, 2014 at 7:18 PM · Report this
DOUG. 12
@9: Uh, you mean this shooting, which the Stranger ran at least a half dozen stories on?
Posted by DOUG. on February 24, 2014 at 7:23 PM · Report this
long-time reader 13
@9, 10, 11: The people suffering from excessive use of force (i.e., beatings and worse) are not reporters for a popular newspaper. Dominic is playing the hand he was dealt. Would you really prefer he didn't report and file complaints about the one incident of police misconduct he had plenty of evidence of? I'm sure that if and when he has the ability to take a stand in a more serious case, he will do so. In the mean time, you should be thanking him for doing what he can.

Dominic, thank you for having the courage to follow this through. And pay no heed to the trolls.
Posted by long-time reader on February 24, 2014 at 7:28 PM · Report this
so that's what a concern troll is, thanks upchuck, i didn't get the term
Posted by Azzam on February 24, 2014 at 7:28 PM · Report this
You're absolutely correct @9, it's a damned outrage these self-centered SLOG writers can't tear themselves away from their narcisistic "Me! Me! Me!" coverage to report on more important matters like the one to which you refer. I mean, it's completely indefensible, this abject and heinous lack of coverage on their part- almost like a, you know, cover up, amIright?
Posted by COMTE on February 24, 2014 at 7:36 PM · Report this
chaseacross 16
I met Urquhart at the Stranger's voting party last cycle (which he attended despite his opponent getting the Stranger's endorsement -- ballsy). We spoke for about twenty minutes and I walked away thoroughly impressed, enough to vote for him and tell my folks to do the same. I'm glad I did; he's been that rare politician that meets expectations exactly even in teeth of very established interests.
Posted by chaseacross on February 24, 2014 at 7:42 PM · Report this
@12 "at least a half dozen". I think not. 2 maybe 3 slog posts. And they never even came close to capturing the details of the case (including police - SPD not just Bellevue - lies) anywhere close to the Seattle weekly. I'm not saying they didn't report, just that they devoted maybe 10% of the attention to a story about cop murder than to one about being rude to a stranger reporter. For example, an inquest hearing happened a short while ago. Any follow up from the stranger? No.
Posted by Upchuck on February 24, 2014 at 7:49 PM · Report this
@17 -- how dare the Stranger not report on what happened at an inquest that's scheduled for next month. The nerve!
Posted by Bax on February 24, 2014 at 8:19 PM · Report this

Right, because it would never ever occur to these narcissistic numb-skulls to mention Anderson's great story in The Weekly, because everybody knows The Stranger writers NEVER give credit to other publications for their reportage - they just can't bring themselves to do that, for sure, for sure.

And you know WHY there's been no "follow up from the stranger" regarding the inquest? Because it was delayed when Smith's family decided to seek other council and the judge granted the new lawyer a continuance - so, guess what genius? It hasn't fucking happened yet, THAT'S why.

Seriously, Google is your bestest friend - you should maybe ask it some very simple questions before you decide next time to shoot your big, fat, ignorant mouth off again around here.
Posted by COMTE on February 24, 2014 at 8:27 PM · Report this
Ok I stand corrected somewhat. I count 5 stories about the cop killing incident on my street linked @15. My point however is not about the shooting in my neighborhood. That was merely an example of horrible things that happen all the time. For example I also read about a swat team in our state shooting a guy who was threatening to commit suicide. And yet the entire media in Seattle is now buzzing about a cop that was a dick to Dominic Holden. I'm still waiting to hear about the discipline that the killers of my neighbor received from police brass - or even what their names are. I'm still waiting to hear about the inquest hearing on the incident. I'm still waiting for a civic discussion that addresses police violence and what our community is willing to tolerate. But instead we're all wrapped up in the drama of a cop being a dick to a stranger reporter.
Posted by Upchuck on February 24, 2014 at 8:31 PM · Report this

Actually, right now we're all wrapped up in the drama of a troll being a dick to a stranger reporter.
Posted by COMTE on February 24, 2014 at 8:48 PM · Report this
Comte, bless you. Your doing yeoman's work here.
Posted by gnossos on February 24, 2014 at 8:58 PM · Report this
What ever happened to the "Film this, bitch!" deputy? I tell my teenager, "Call them when you need them. Otherwise stay the hell away from them."
Posted by Stumphaven on February 24, 2014 at 9:04 PM · Report this
McBomber 24
Thanks for posting this video. Next time I call 911 can I request a deputy instead of SPD?
Posted by McBomber on February 24, 2014 at 9:05 PM · Report this
@9 - If a cop behaves in appropriately in even a small interaction with the public, and gets away with it, it sends a message that dick behavior is OK. No police misconduct is acceptable. Should we only care about the more serious incidents and ignore the small ones? No, because the small ones lead to the more serious ones.

The Stranger reported on the incident that happened on your street, and I'm sure they'll continue to do so as there are more updates. I think The Stranger has an excellent record for reporting police misconduct. This one is a unique situation because it happened TO Dominic Holden, and so he was able to write about the complaint process from the perspective of the complainant. No one is dismissing what happened on your street as unimportant. Though, I believe that was actually Bellevue PD operating inside Seattle, no? So that's a different kettle of fish because it doesn't deal directly with the SPD's issues.
Posted by JenV on February 24, 2014 at 9:11 PM · Report this
@20, you don't read much, do you. Instead, you just wait for this, and wait for that, and complain about the Stranger. A full life.
Posted by sarah70 on February 24, 2014 at 9:22 PM · Report this
Yeah I'm a dick for having the opinion that the overwhelming focus on this story distracts from bigger issues. You guys are great. I'll stick to google and the weekly for news. The stranger for dipshit commenters and fluff stories.
Posted by Upchuck on February 24, 2014 at 9:56 PM · Report this
seatackled 28

Fuck you for making me feel sorry for the Weekly now.
Posted by seatackled on February 24, 2014 at 10:04 PM · Report this
And yeah sorry I just reread my @9 I guess I was asking for it and over the top.
Posted by Upchuck on February 24, 2014 at 10:06 PM · Report this
@28 surprisingly, the weekly did a WAY better job on the cop killer story
Posted by Upchuck on February 24, 2014 at 10:08 PM · Report this
First off, let me preface this by saying I am pro union in principle and absolutely support employees having a say in their workplace. BUT just as an out-of-contol management can make an organization a bad place, an out-of-contol union can do the same. SPOG really needs to be taken down a few notches. There is a difference between having a say in your workplace and running it to the detriment of all others. Fighting every single disciplinary action tooth and nail, no matter how warranted is not good representation. When they back bad apples it disgraces them as a union. What's worse, when the brass and politicians afford the union way too much power and also back the bad apples, it disgraces the whole organization and erodes public confidence as the sheriff noted. Mr. Mayor, we the citizens of Seattle elected you, not SPOG. We the citizens can also throw you out, not SPOG. It's time to take SPOG down a few notches and stop allowing them to arrange wrist-slaps instead of holding officers accountable.
Posted by hifiandrew on February 24, 2014 at 10:18 PM · Report this
@29: This is off-topic, but since we already went there: The investigation into Bellevue Police executing that man in your neighborhood names police officers as the victims. See this investigative file index I received.

  • Seattle Police Department O.I.S. Investigation Case File

  • victims: Bellevue Officers, Hiam, Bement, and Chiders

  • date: 2013-03-22

  • location of occurence: 5017 43rd Ave S., Seattle, WA

  • file no: H# 13-077

  • assigned detectives: Mudd/Norton

  • case no: 13-96094

Posted by Phil M on February 24, 2014 at 10:32 PM · Report this
Wow, Urquhart makes me almost not hate cops.

But then class and race analysis reasserts itself.
Posted by mrjoe on February 25, 2014 at 12:04 AM · Report this
rtm 34
Well. In addition to elected vs appointed, King County is run by Diw Constantine, who I hear begins every discussion with the question "what's the right answer?" As opposed to Seattle, who has Ed "lost control of Olympia and will pander for votes" Murray.
Posted by rtm on February 25, 2014 at 8:05 AM · Report this
kellyllek 35
yes hearing your bitch about Dominic daily is so much better. please talk about it more.
Posted by kellyllek on February 25, 2014 at 11:30 AM · Report this
in-frequent 36
wait... are they playing good cop bad cop with us?
Posted by in-frequent on February 25, 2014 at 12:01 PM · Report this
Just goes to show, this is a management problem with SPD, not a union problem. When managers don't do their job, predictably the rank-and-file will run roughshod.
Posted by yetanotheranoncomment on February 25, 2014 at 12:03 PM · Report this
Texas10R 38
Why does this dude need four stars on each shirt collar? Isn't there ALREADY too much militarization of civilian law enforcement agencies? And are those EIGHT stars on the cuff of his left sleeve? Cheese & Rice!
Posted by Texas10R on February 25, 2014 at 12:49 PM · Report this
Let's wait until the next event before we decide if anything has changed at all. My guess is that it is business as usual and behind the scenes at SPD they are laughing at the public.
Posted by longwayhome on February 25, 2014 at 9:18 PM · Report this
Unfortunately, the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission is headed by the former King County Sheriff, who was head of the Sheriff's Department during those very negative audits.

Executive Director:
Sue Rahr
Phone: 206.835.7372

How is real change going to come about, when you have someone running the initial training program and influencing the training and ethical standards, with this type of background?

Posted by No Chance of Change on February 26, 2014 at 6:27 AM · Report this

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