Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Early-Exit Cinema | Today The Stranger Suggests... »

Friday, July 6, 2007

Note to Connelly: Not All Cops are Bad Cops, Man.

posted by on July 6 at 10:52 AM


In his column this morning, Joel Connelly flags a supposed contradiction in the Stranger’s coverage of the police accountability scandal. He writes:

The Stranger is denouncing Kerlikowske and “Gil’s boys” while, at the same time, latching onto a Seattle police report to exonerate a Belltown club outside which the latest street shooting took place.

Connelly is correct that we cited a glowing review of Tabella in a recent SPD report as evidence that Tabella doesn’t deserve the shit its getting in the press for being the cause of last week’s shooting. We also, btw, “latched onto” video evidence, which Connelly forgets to mention. In other words, the cops appear to be right about Tabella.

Connelly is also correct that we’ve reported on the series of Office of Professional Accountability (OPA), Office of Professional Accountability Review Board (OPARB), and Court findings that have condemned officers. The courts, the OPA, and OPARB appear to be right given things like video evidence.

If our two doses of reporting are contradictory (I don’t think they are), Connelly has to either believe (A) The cops who filed the Belltown report are lying … or (B) the courts, the OPA, and OPARB are lying. Which is it Joel? Are you willing to say the police fabricated a report from Belltown? Or are you willing to say that judges in KC Court, Municipal Court, the OPA, and OPARB fabricated their work.

I’m not.

I believe there are good cops and there are bad cops. The evidence is strong that there have been gross cases of police misconduct, and I think something should be done about it. That doesn’t mean I think all cops are liars. Our paper has zoomed in on cases where the courts, the OPA, and the OPARB have singled out specific cops. And we’ve reported on those cops. I have no reason, however, to believe the beat cops lied about Tabella. Again, there are good cops. And there are bad cops.

Connelly, here’s a suggestion: rent Serpico.

Meanwhile, the point of Connelly’s column is that us “loudmouths” should settle down and let the Mayor’s investigation run its course. Spoken like a true journalist, Joel.

Does Connelly believe Nickels is actually in earnest about his review? Not only did Nickels undermine his own credibility by working behind the scenes to secure letters of support for the chief—even as Nickels called for a “review” (p.s. he got turned down)—but as Nickels office told me, the point of their “review” was to slap down the “axe to grind” OPARB and dispel the criticisms of Kerlikowske. Looks like Connelly is comfortable with his position as PR guy for Team Nickels.

RSS icon Comments


Nicely done, Josh. I may post something up at HorsesAss on this.

Posted by thehim | July 6, 2007 10:58 AM

Keep up the good fight, Stranger. Joel Connelly reminds me of the old Don Imus in as much as whenever I read someone responding to something that he writes, I think "people actually *read* that boring old drone?!?"

Posted by Big Sven | July 6, 2007 10:58 AM

ps- what's with Joel's quotes around "the community". Is that some sort of code for people of color? Or what? I feel like I should go scrub my eyeballs...

Posted by Big Sven | July 6, 2007 11:01 AM

Thanks Josh for pointing out how badly Joel misses the point here. I like SPD officers-- they're mostly a bunch of nice, hardworking people. And they get plenty of due process, thanks especially to their union. But Gil isn't just a cop; he's running the department and apparently going out of his way to help the assholes. If Nickels allows that to continue, it'll ruin the whole department. You don't need a phony review process to see that.

Posted by Joe M | July 6, 2007 11:07 AM

This pretty much confirms that Josh has been told he's not getting that job he wanted at the P-I.

Posted by Editor's note | July 6, 2007 11:10 AM

The few bad cops make people forget there are good cops.

That said, it would be nice if the good cops would do their jobs. Friends of mine had there house robbed recently and the cops who "investigated" seemed disinterested. I guess unless someone is murdered they don't dust for prints or anything.

Posted by elswinger | July 6, 2007 11:13 AM

This reminds me, did anyone see this Horsey cartoon from a couple weeks ago?

Uh . . . what? Is he really saying what I think he's saying? I think he's normally right on, but wtf is up with this one?

Posted by Levislade | July 6, 2007 11:31 AM

I hate the idea of the mayor's committee. I hate the idea that we need yet more Seattle process. I also hate that he conflates the due process of the OPA with the due process we need to get rid of Kierlikowske. The first is a legal process, with all the protections that entails. The second is a political process for a political appointee, meaning that there is no due process to firing his ass. We just have to decide as "the community" that we don't like the fucker anymore, and get our elected officials to give him the boot.

Posted by Gitai | July 6, 2007 11:31 AM

Connely is a tool. That editorial made no sense. Again he is grinding his axe against Licata. It was completely bizarre for him to cite an old protest and try to compare it to the huge response now, which includes not only NAACP, but MEDC, public defenders, victims of police violence and other folks, as a matter of fact there has been a complete absence of the loons from the Freedom socialist party who show up to things eventhough nobody invites them. His whole this is 60's types that are doing this is completely off.

Nickles is trying to cover shit up, maybe he called Connely just like he called other folks behind the scenes.

I would say he needs to watch PRINCE and the City along with Serpico.

Posted by SeMe | July 6, 2007 11:52 AM

Classic misdirection. Criticize how five percent of the police force is disciplined, and people say you hate ALL cops. Point out that flagrant and excessive use of force has been rewarded by the SPD, and they say you are trying to coddle drug dealers (even when no drugs were involved in the use of force cases). Talk about civil rights, and they attack your personality in terms that make them sound like Jim Crow segregationists (You're a communist! A member of the NAACP! A 60's radical!).

People say this is a liberal city. It's not.

Posted by Trevor | July 6, 2007 11:58 AM

Trevor @11,

I am a Communist! Member of the NAACP! and 60's radical! You've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop.

Posted by Josh Feit | July 6, 2007 12:09 PM

Seattle has the best cops I've ever dealt with.

Posted by abe | July 6, 2007 12:10 PM

"SAY YES TO WAR!" Dan Savage in The Stranger Oct. 2002
Is the United States Killing 10,000 Iraqis Every Month? Or Is It More?
Michael Schwartz, After Downing Street
War on Iraq: 300 Iraqis killed by Americans each day sounds like an impossible figure, but a close look at the reported numbers of violent deaths and rate of armed patrols makes it all too likely.

Posted by Awful Troll | July 6, 2007 12:18 PM

Connelly wants to make sure Ceis keeps sticking his dick into that city hall basement glory hole. I have said too much.

Posted by hole in the wall | July 6, 2007 12:33 PM

The Stranger is to be congradulated for its coverage of this issue. Thankfully The P.I. and Times no longer have the power to set the limits of the debate, and that seems to really bother Connelly and company.
I think if Connelly had his way all discussions and decisions would be made by the rich and powerful whose butts his is always kissing.

Posted by Heather | July 6, 2007 12:39 PM

@16: The Seattle Times reporters have almost singlehandedly moved this issue forward for at least 3 months. And the PI's editorial calling for an independent review board goes further than anyone else. I hardly think either one is limiting debate.

Posted by Trevor | July 6, 2007 12:54 PM


The thing is labs are really overwhelmed. They only have the time and resources to investigate violent crimes. There's probably no point for police to dust for fingerprints and conduct a real investigation when you're talking about a mere property crime.

Posted by keshmeshi | July 6, 2007 1:18 PM

@18 You've left me feeling that I need to post the letter I sent to the P-I:

There is no need for more study of police accountability. This is just more typical Seattle process. What the committee will do is dither over the obvious, and then make a report saying everything we already know: The accountability and discipline process is politicized and toothless. A variety of suggestions will be made, all of them sensible and the Police Guild will loudly object to each and every one, while throwing some useless bone to the public.

Rather than working with the City Council, the mayor and the public to create a fair and equitable system for punishing those few officers who tarnish the entire department, they will stonewall, and the council and mayor will be complicit in it, as neither show the courage or will to stand up to the guild.

What do we get in return? A dysfunctional police department that does no investigation of property crimes. A department that will not follow up on any violent crime less serious than homicide unless your attacker is caught in the act, is someone whose name you know or your assault is highly publicized. We get a city in which traffic infractions are punished with greater frequency than laws against violent crimes. With leadership like this, how can anyone have any confidence in the Seattle Police Department?

Posted by Gitai | July 6, 2007 1:36 PM


Once again (I am sure I have written this before) you glom on to an offhand comment in Connelly's comment and miss the larger point (one which the article certainly has). Yeah, he is being a little naive about the mayor's agenda, but going after this detail is defensive and whinging.

Posted by Rob Crowe | July 6, 2007 3:34 PM

@2: If you are think Connelly is even vaguely comparable to Imus, you definitely have a mote in your eye you need to look like. and the scare quotes around "community" because he doesn't think the protestors represent the spectrum of views about the community. a case can certainly be made for that.

needless to say, none of this calls into question the fact that the OPAR needs help and Kerlikowske needs to be clear. otherwise, I tend to think the union is getting to him ...

Posted by Rob Crowe | July 6, 2007 3:50 PM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).