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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mayor Freezes SPD Misconduct Settlements, City Can't Find Paperwork to Back Up Claims of Mayor and Chief

Posted by on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 6:33 PM

The mayors and police chiefs staff before the Seattle City Council.
  • The mayor's and police chief's staff before the Seattle City Council.

The Seattle police chief, city attorney, and mayor's senior staff were hauled before a skeptical Seattle City Council today to answer pointed questions about an unraveling brouhaha of police misconduct cases. At issue: Interim police chief Harry Bailey recently downgraded discipline for six officers, after past chiefs had already imposed misconduct verdicts against those officers, and then dramatically flip-flip flopped on other case.

In today's meeting, the mayor's surrogates made three more remarkable disclosures:

(1) The mayor has placed an "indefinite hold" on his police chief signing any further settlements in officer-misconduct cases until further review, Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim told the council's public safety committee; (2) the mayor's office has also decided to reopen those six cases in which the chief decided to downgrade the punishment to "see if appropriate determinations were made," according to the bureaucratic parlance of mayoral public safety adviser Tina Podlodowski; and (3) Deputy Mayor Kim told the council that city officials cannot find any paperwork confirming that former interim chief Jim Pugel tentatively downgraded discipline in those six cases, as claimed repeatedly in the last week by Chief Bailey and Mayor Murray.

That last item was possibly the most alarming because it suggests there is no evidence to back up the buck-passing talking point that this controversy was the last administration's fault, which was used to justify the backdoor approach to letting cops off the hook. Kim explained it like this:

"Interim Chief Bailey understood these cases and these recommendations from the Law Department to have been thoroughly vetted by the previous leadership of the SPD," she said in prepared remarks to the council. "But we, the Mayor’s office, have not been able to receive documentation of how, when, and who in the previous SPD leadership actually approved the disciplinary actions that Chief Bailey ultimately signed off on in these six cases." Kim said Murray's office will revisit the process with various stakeholders and the US Department of Justice, which pushed the city into a police-reform settlement in 2012 to eradicate patterns of police misconduct. The Community Police Commission will make recommendations on the process in March.

Not surprisingly, council members were alarmed that the chief had revisited cases they thought were resolved, and expressed concern about the police-accountability system's efficacy.

There are many, many questions outstanding: How many discipline cases have been downgraded without the public knowing about it; is there a statute of limitations; how does the chief find the legal authority to do this; why was the city's legal department not consulted in a particularly high-profile case? That last case was my case—a complaint I filed last summer—which had been reversed last week and then reversed again this week. (I also made these comments and asked these questions at the council hearing.)


Comments (30) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Bailey must be dismissed immediately. As long as he is at the helm, deliberately and maliciously blocking reforms to our rogue paramilitary "police" force, there can be zero trust that any positive change can or will occur. He is a cancer eating away at our city. If Murray won't fire him, he needs to go as well.
Posted by Pol Pot on February 26, 2014 at 6:52 PM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 2
I'm starting to think there may be a problem.
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on February 26, 2014 at 7:03 PM · Report this
NotSean 3
Grammar police say 'reivew' your spelling, or do they have to come to your office and harrass you about it?
Posted by NotSean on February 26, 2014 at 7:04 PM · Report this
Fire Bailey. Recall Murray.
Posted by DOUG. on February 26, 2014 at 7:14 PM · Report this
Fire Bailey. Bring back Pugel.
Posted by StuckInUtah on February 26, 2014 at 7:21 PM · Report this
Fnarf 6

Notice how nobody, not Murray, not Bailey, not the council, not the officers themselves, and certainly not the public, knows whether the officers in question have been disciplined or not.

Murray's learning how to administrate on the job, which is not good in a situation like this. Lost the paperwork? That didn't work when I was in eighth grade.

Screw Pugel, Bailey, and Murray; bring in the DOJ immediately.
Posted by Fnarf on February 26, 2014 at 7:35 PM · Report this
God Dom, why is this all about you and your case! Who cares if the mayor and the Chief of Police lied and lied about their intentions, people get SHOT, like ALL THE TIME! You should be grateful to live in a city like this! USA! USA! USA!
Posted by Hanoumatoi on February 26, 2014 at 7:37 PM · Report this
Aaaaannnnnnd....My color commentary on the flips and twists in the Olympic dive by Murray is now breaking news: "Recovery Operation" at Bottom of the (cess)Pool.

To quote the immortally quotable Pulp Fiction: Ed's Dead Baby...Ed's Dead....
Posted by gator bait on February 26, 2014 at 7:49 PM · Report this
Aaron 9
Villagers may want to set aside the pitchforks long enough to note that Dominic also wrote today "I also have great respect for SPD chief Harry Bailey, despite the fact that he is retracting several police misconduct verdicts". Sure, Dominic asks difficult and direct questions frequently (always scrupulously politely), but the most unfortunate thing about this saga has been some of the hysterics in these comment threads, and the apparent goal of tearing down rather that healing our public institutions.
Posted by Aaron on February 26, 2014 at 7:59 PM · Report this
I watched the hearing and while I knew he was an ass, I never realized the level of asshole that the head of the SPOG rises to. Fuck that guy.

And fuck Chief Bailey who is either incompetent or a liar.

@9, I'll get on board with healing when the leadership does. Until then I see no evidence that Bailey is anything but part of the problem.
Posted by giffy on February 26, 2014 at 8:26 PM · Report this
DOUG. 11
At the next Bailey/Murray joint news conference, the police chief should wear an "I'm With Stupid" t-shirt.
Posted by DOUG. on February 26, 2014 at 8:32 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 12
This is Seattle.

We eat Mayors & Police Chiefs for breakfast!
Posted by Will in Seattle on February 26, 2014 at 8:42 PM · Report this
And so no one on Team Murray has thought to pick up the phone and call Pugel and ask him?

Or they did, and he said nope I didn't do that?

Seriously, he may be in Siberia, but he ain't dead. Verifying what he did or didn't do is pretty damn simple. The fact they're saying they don't know because they can't find the paperwork speaks volumes.
Posted by gnossos on February 26, 2014 at 9:15 PM · Report this
Rujax! 14
Is there nothing these dicks can't fuck up?
Posted by Rujax! on February 26, 2014 at 10:44 PM · Report this
@6 DOJ is not going to solve this for us, in part because they aren't interested in that. They are a part of the power games that have been going on for nearly two years. Murray decided to play those games too, rewarding his campaign backers (SPOG) by helping them settle scores within the department. It got out of control and now Murray is getting blowback. Jenny Durkan is political allies with Ed Murray and will not make him look bad by taking SPD from him.

Until we all realize that we - the people of Seattle - are the only ones who can fix this rather than expecting some savior to fix SPD for us, this shit is just going to keep happening.
Posted by junipero on February 26, 2014 at 10:50 PM · Report this
AlaskanWayViaducks 16
@15 Well said. Great analysis of situation.
Posted by AlaskanWayViaducks on February 26, 2014 at 11:23 PM · Report this
I think it would be nice if Dom's babysitter was interm police chief again too.
Posted by ChefJoe on February 26, 2014 at 11:28 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 18
The real questions are these: Were these decisions part of a pre-agreement for Bailey to accept the job? Was that why Bailey was hired, and not Pugel? Was this decision something that originated with SPOG, or was it an olive branch offered by Murray, in exchange for future considerations? The downgrading is obviously something that SPOG wanted, what did they give up in exchange? What was Bailey's relationship to Murray (and vice-versa) before the election? What influence did any of the players (Bailey, SPOG, SPD, Pugel, etc.) have in the mayoral election? And finally, who are the other individuals who brokered this deal between the SPD & mayor's office?
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on February 26, 2014 at 11:32 PM · Report this
junipero @15 is exactly right. DOJ is not going to fix this as long as Durkan is in charge locally. She is as much of problem as Murray and SPOG. The fact that their first order of business was to get rid of Pugel is extremely telling.

Posted by gnossos on February 27, 2014 at 12:18 AM · Report this
seatackled 20
I forget Durkan's resume. She's a USA, right? Is she actually qualified for the job, or is she purely a political appointee?

I was surprised to read last week that Chris Christie got his job as USA in NJ in 2001 because he had raised a lot of money for Bush before the election. He had a law degree, but zero experience as a prosecutor. Does Durkan have a track record?
Posted by seatackled on February 27, 2014 at 12:28 AM · Report this
seatackled 21
During public comment at the end of the meeting, council members listened silently as Sgt. Rich O’Neill, the outgoing president of the police guild, assailed city officials for their “appalling and disgusting” second-guessing of the city’s first African-American police chief, calling it a “power grab.”…
Posted by seatackled on February 27, 2014 at 12:29 AM · Report this
rob! 22
@20: Jenny Durkan

So, gay mafia? I'm only half joking. Seems like she and Murray better beat feet to get ahead of this thing, or they'll both be pretty badly singed.

Levi Pulkkinen's piece in the Seattle P.I. on Dec. 16, 2011 for recap. "We don't have a whole lot of faith that the Department of Justice or the city will do much," said the NAACP at the time.

Posted by rob! on February 27, 2014 at 1:52 AM · Report this
seatackled 23

Uh, thanks for googling that for me.

I didn't know she's gay--I knew she has at least one child, so I foolishly assumed she's straight. But yeah, that makes me wonder about her association with Murray. As for her appointment, it looks like she has a lot of public service and may have been a trial lawyer before her appointment, but she doesn't appear to have had any prior experience as a prosecutor. I wonder how typical that is with USAs.
Posted by seatackled on February 27, 2014 at 5:22 AM · Report this
Aaron 24
Oh for crying out loud, why does everything have to be a conspiracy? I'm inclined to believe that Bailey is naive more than malignant, and that Murray put him in then backed him up because he found him easier to communicate with than Pugel. Durkin is absolutely competent, and will likely continue to influence the progress of this mess, but seriously, all of these people are individuals who have given themselves to public service. I'm sure each of them is well talented enough to become another craven corporate soldier, but didn't. Give them the benefit of a doubt, and let things unfold. Back away from the pitch forks.
Posted by Aaron on February 27, 2014 at 6:45 AM · Report this
Aaron 25
Durkan. Pitchforks. Coffee.
Posted by Aaron on February 27, 2014 at 6:47 AM · Report this
rob! 26
Colonel Mustard. Library. Candlestick :)
Posted by rob! on February 27, 2014 at 7:29 AM · Report this
@24: Aaron wrote, "I'm inclined to believe that Bailey is naive more than malignant"

That's newsworthy either way. Is Mayor Ed Murray's appointee Interim Police Chief Harry Bailey dishonest or simply incompetent?

"and [I'm inclined also to believe] that Murray put [Bailey] in then backed him up because he found [Bailey] easier to communicate with than [former Interim Chief Jim] Pugel."

That's not surprising. Pugel is smart and well-spoken. Listen to Bailey talk and look at how Murray writes. They may be good leaders and they may be bad leaders, but neither Bailey nor Murry has demonstrated the level of professional communication skill I expect from people in their positions.
Posted by Phil M on February 27, 2014 at 9:31 AM · Report this
". . .how does the chief find the legal authority to do this. . ."

Of course, this is the crux of the matter and the city's chief prosecutor should be answering this ASAP (I may be wrong as I haven't perused the city rules, regs and ordinances for a few years, but this should not be legal).

Posted by sgt_doom on February 27, 2014 at 4:24 PM · Report this
It's as if Seattle is not capable of having a sensible police chief.

BTW stop looking at John Urquhart that way. You can't have him. He's ours.
Posted by K on February 27, 2014 at 4:28 PM · Report this
@28: Testimony of outgoing SPOG president Rich "we wouldn't have these problems if people just did what police tell them to do" O'Neil begins at 1:04:15 into the video of yesterday's meeting.
Posted by Phil M on February 27, 2014 at 6:41 PM · Report this

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