Thursday, May 29, 2014

So Sue Me

That expression is one both overused and abused. In reality the only ones who ever benefit from lawsuits are Lawyers. Overlawyered from the CATO Institute does a fairly good job of documenting the insanity of the Trial Lawyers. And having crashed their shindig in Miami a year back with Kenny Rogers as the entertainment, they are doing quite well. As for Kenny, wow lay off the surgery.

So when I saw this last night I almost sued myself for damages as I nearly peed myself.

Seattle cops sue over DOJ reforms

In a highly public rejection of federally mandated reforms, more than 100 Seattle police officers filed a lawsuit Wednesday asking a federal judge to block what they called “mechanical” and unrealistic use-of-force policies imposed on them under a court-ordered consent decree.

By Steve Miletich, Mike Carter and Jennifer Sullivan
Seattle Times staff reporters

Key components of the policy include officers carrying at least one less-lethal device and reporting all but minimal force.

• Officers shall use force only when necessary and “with minimal reliance upon the use of physical force.”

• While force is sometimes unavoidable, officers should not precipitate the unnecessary use of force.

• Officers shall use only the degree of force that is objectively reasonable and proportional to the threat or resistance.

• Through “advisements, warnings, verbal persuasion, and other tactics,” officers shall seek to de-escalate confrontations.

• Officers must carry at least one less-lethal device, such as a Taser, pepper spray, a “bean bag” round or impact device that is unlikely to cause death but potentially could.

• All but minimal force must be reported, including the “intentional pointing of a firearm at a subject.”

• It is inappropriate to use force to punish or retaliate against people; or against people who verbally confront officers; or against handcuffed or restrained individuals.

• Supervisors will be required to review and screen use of force.

• A new Force Investigation Team (FIT) will look into highest-level uses of force, as well as officer-involved shootings, in-custody deaths and serious assaults on officers.

• The Use of Force Review Board is formally incorporated, with the responsibility to review high-level uses of force and identify trends or deficiencies regarding policy, training, equipment or tactics.
Reader CommentsHide / Show comments 123 Seattle Police Officers want a new job but don't want to give up their benefit plans. Hesitation, patience and... (May 28, 2014) MORE
Last time I looked, Seattle was not the only place with law enforcement agencies... If you do not happen to like or... (May 28, 2014) MORE
I would suggest firing these 100+ Seattle police officers. Probably a good step towards getting the force back in... (May 28, 2014) MORE
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In a highly public rejection of federally mandated reforms, more than 100 Seattle police officers filed a lawsuit Wednesday asking a federal judge to block what they called “mechanical” and unrealistic use-of-force policies imposed on them under a court-ordered consent decree.

The 43-page suit alleges policies stemming from an agreement between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) stoked a “bold, new disregard for police authority in the streets of Seattle,” putting officers and the public in unreasonable danger.

The civil-rights suit, filed in U.S. District Court, contends the changes have effectively created “hesitation and paralysis” among officers, stripping them of their constitutional and legal right to make reasonable, split-second judgments in the line of duty.

As a result, officers are afraid to do their job for fear of being second-guessed over burdensome, complicated and voluminous policies, the suit says.

“Aside from evidence that officers are hesitating and/or failing to use appropriate and lawfully justified force to address threats safely and effectively, there is evidence of a dramatic decrease in proactive police work to investigate and stop crime,” the suit alleges in a reference to what some have called depolicing.

Just two weeks ago, a Seattle Police Department report revealed steep drops in the enforcement of lower-level crimes, traffic offenses and infractions in recent years as officers have displayed less willingness to seek out illegal activity.

The suit alleges officers have turned in Tasers in large numbers because of confusion about how and when to use them and will testify about an “insidious” reluctance to respond to backup calls, all out of fear of being exposed to unreasonable discipline or termination.

The suit, filed by 123 officers, detectives and sergeants, largely from the department’s North Precinct, was brought without an attorney, although a civil-rights attorney in Washington, D.C., assisted.

It also was filed without the approval or support of their union, the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG).

The suit names U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan in Seattle, top DOJ attorneys and Mayor Ed Murray, along with current and past Seattle city officials and Merrick Bobb, the federal monitor overseeing court-ordered reforms to curtail excessive force and biased policing.

The city and DOJ civil-rights attorneys agreed to the reforms in 2012 after the Justice Department found that officers had engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force, a conclusion the lawsuit rejects as flawed and unproved.

The Justice Department also cited troubling evidence of biased policing.

The suit, for the first time, brought to the surface widespread hostility within the Police Department toward the new use-of-force policies, standing in marked contrast to top commanders and city officials who have repeatedly embraced reforms.

Murray, in a terse statement issued Wednesday afternoon, said he has yet to review the lawsuit and it would be inappropriate to immediately comment.

“But I will say: the Seattle Police Department is under a federally-mandated court order, in part because of a disturbing pattern of unnecessary use of force and other forms of unconstitutional policing,” Murray said.

“The police department will comply with that court order. The City of Seattle will not fight the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. This is not the 1960s.”

The new use-of-force policy, which went into effect Jan. 1, for the first time defined “force” as any physical coercion by an officer in the performance of their duties, and advised when it can be used and how much is appropriate under the circumstances.

Officers must report all but the most minimal use of force to supervisors, and shall “use only the force necessary to perform their duties” and “with minimal reliance upon the use of physical force.”

They also are required, if circumstances allow, to attempt to de-escalate tense situations through “advisements, warnings, verbal persuasion, and other tactics” to reduce the need for force.

When using force is unavoidable, the policy cautions officers to use only the force necessary to make the arrest, and says that their conduct before force was used may be considered by the department in determining whether force was appropriate.

Procedural manuals lay out weapon-by-weapon guidance, new reporting guidelines and the policies for the department’s new Force Investigation Team (FIT), which will roll out on incidents involving the highest levels of force and officer-involved shootings.

The suit brought Wednesday seeks an injunction against the policies and declaratory judgment that they’re unconstitutional, as well as unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

“We participate in continuing and extensive training regarding suspects’ rights and have never sought a blank check on using force,” the suit says.

Ron Smith, SPOG’s president, said of the officers who filed suit, “I knew they were unhappy. I knew they were contemplating this action. I met with them to hear their concerns at their request, back in March. I didn’t hear back from them again.”

Smith said he gave the group “a conduit” to the Community Police Commission, created as part of the consent decree, and that they shared their concerns with the commission.

“I assumed they were going to get the policy changed in the areas of concern,” Smith said. “I would like to say the policy is overly broad, poorly written and somewhat confusing. However, I believe the policy could have been changed with collaboration with the Community Police Commission.”

Smith said the federal filing “is not supported” by the Guild, and is not being funded by the union.

He said the dissenters, who represent 10 percent of his membership, started going precinct to precinct in January looking for signatures and were told to stop by command staff.

The lead plaintiff on the suit, Robert Mahoney, couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.

Mahoney in 2009 was given 30 days off without pay after an 18-year-old Explorer cadet he had been supervising accused him of kissing her and putting his tongue in her mouth.

The discipline was the most severe that could be imposed short of termination by then-Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske.

Mahoney denied he kissed the woman, which resulted in Kerlikowske imposing what could have been a career-ending finding of “dishonesty.”

The Public Safety Civil Service Commission upheld the suspension and allegations of unprofessional conduct but threw out the dishonesty finding.

Wednesday’s suit was assigned to U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman, the chief federal district judge in Western Washington.

The consent decree is being overseen by U.S. District Judge James Robart, who could hear the suit if it is transferred to him.

The suit singles out Robart, the Justice Department and Bobb, the monitor, for criticism, asserting that officers, for example, have more training and experience than they do in dealing with mentally ill offenders who often abuse drugs and act violently.

The Constitution “does not permit judges, or in this case DOJ and its Monitor, to look back in perfect hindsight, from the safety of their chambers or offices, to second-guess what patrol officers actually faced at the moment and know from real experience on the streets,” the suit said.

Yes I see doing one's job is stressful but doing so with restraint and accordance to this thing you are to uphold - the LAW - is apparently not something these Officers of the LAW wish to do.

I always love that when someone says "thanks for putting your life on the line" I am assuming they mean us the citizens of this City when dealing with the Seattle Police as clearly the Police are not doing anything of the sort.

I have never met an Officer I did like. And yes that was before I was arrested while in a coma on a ventilator and blood drawn without a warrant by a Nurse I suspect was bullied, intimidated, coerced or what I really think - utterly compliant with the Officer's malfeasance.

Watching the Officer on the stand who only months earlier in the same newspaper proclaim his expertise and knowledge was interesting to the level of idiocy and incompetency I and Harvard (Lawyer #2) witnessed. Tweedle Dum was in full mode that day, but my favorite was when asked if he had called the actual phone number of my date/rapist his response was "no." Yes when given a phone number and the ability to get a Court Order which is other accomplice Tweedle Dee failed to do to find the owner of said number, shows that misconduct and the law is not something here in Seattle we feel compelled to do.

Lawyer #1, missed the performance but informed me later as he often did to explain,excuse or justify the bizarre antics that transpired in Court, said that this Officer when normally testifying about standard tests he was outstanding. He also said the same about the Prosecutor and her level of convictions. Again, misconduct can do that kind of thing. I have not mastered the scoff laugh so I just did the glare increduously thing.

I write about this because if it happened to me it can happen to anyone. PERIOD.

I live in a neighborhood where in 9 days we had 9 shootings, we had a man pushing a dead man in grocery cart and we had a carjacking at a local Pea Patch, numerous elderly people's purses and phones snatched as they get off public transport in the same time frame. And in turn we get a new precinct chief to replace the one who had been on the gig for 5 months. All during this same period of chaos the department has acknowledged a 'slow down' on enforcing low level crime.

Shootings are low level I guess. But hey guns are permitted in our parks thanks to the Judge in my Civil (yes I have both civil and criminal cases) case who ruled that making guns illegal (as a former mayor not the last one the one before that, we go through Mayors as we go through Police Chief's pretty much as the same rate) was unconstitutional. Yes having guns in the Parks are allowed which is where one of the shootings transpired, while families were playing, picnicking, etc. I will have some potato salad and a side of buckshot.

Yes I know this is a blog about sustainable issues, green build, etc. Hey if life and living in a community is not safe and sane for its residents then it is not sustainable. I pray everyday to leave here. And since Seattle is number one on the census track for relocation's, I won't be missed.

I just hope I leave upright and not in a box. I suspect that both the Seattle Municipal Court and Harborview Hospital Attorneys (the Defendant's still don't know me as well I never actually met most of them and they were all students so they are gone anyway so just the Attorney's probably care) I am sure wish for my death and would be happy to enable that possibility. Yes that is negative but you have not met these people and I have and to say hateful (well one Attorney I like he seems sane and normal which right there is odd) would be insufficient. I have never met more hateful women then the Harborview Admin Bitches, well other than the cuntbucket from the Seattle City's Attorney's office, there is one special type of cunt, a truly hateful one.

And when I write my book about this I will use their real names and you know what - sue me.

ETA:  Today it has been released that overtime bills for the supposed training for SPD did not happen. Again not a surprise given our Police and their history. 

       2 probes into Seattle police OT spending


Two investigations are underway into potential abuse of overtime policies at the Seattle Police Department, the KING 5 Investigators have confirmed.

Both the Seattle City Auditor and the SPD's Office of Professional Accountability have opened investigations into the matter, which involves as much as $2.8 million in overtime spending.

The overtime costs were charged to the SPD training unit, which was under pressure to provide increased training as part of the department's legal settlement with the federal government over excessive use of force and biased policing. But it’s unclear where all of the money went.  Hundreds of officers did not receive even the minimum 32 hours of “Street Skills” training that’s part of their guild contract.

Then-acting police chief Jim Pugel suspended the training last October when he became aware the unit was racking up overtime far beyond what was budgeted, according to Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, who works in the department's Public Affairs Office. KING 5 was unable to reach Pugel for comment. 

Two months after the training was suspended, Merrick Bobb, the federal monitor overseeing changes at SPD, sounded the alarm, saying the lack of training was stalling the overall reform effort.

But the overtime and training problem didn't become known to top city officials until January, when an anonymous complaint was made to the Office of Professional Accountability.

"We're looking at the allegation that one or more people used their authority to direct overtime spending to themselves or others," said Pierce Murphy, the OPA director. 

He said the SPD officers under investigation may have acted "for their [own] benefit or the benefit of others that were friends or somehow known to them."

Murphy receives and investigates complaints about misconduct in the Seattle Police Department.  He said this case is unusual because it has to do with internal processes and the use of authority internally. Most complaints have to do with use of force or day to day interactions between citizens and police.

Sources told KING 5 that the allegations now under investigation paint the picture of a unit with such lax oversight that it became the center of an overtime free for all -- with members scheduling themselves for overtime without a supervisor's approval and at times when there were too few students to justify extra instructors.

"I'm incredibly disturbed," said Mayor Ed Murray. "I'm disturbed by what happened last year and I'm disturbed that this information didn't come out last year."

Murray said Interim Police Chief Harry Bailey -- the man he appointed in January after removing Pugel from the post -- made investigating the overtime spending a top priority shortly after he took over.

Seattle City Auditor David Jones also confirms his office is investigating what precipitated the spending spree, why the training unit overspent its budget and why it wasn’t noticed sooner.

While most of the people who led the unit last year have been moved to new assignments, Murray said he wants to hold accountable anyone who knowingly violated SPD policies.

"The question we need to ask is, ‘Who are the individuals who may have abused the system?'" Murray said. "The more important question is why did the leadership of the police department last year allow this to happen?"

SPD would not provide information about how much overtime was budgeted for training in 2013, so it’s impossible to know exactly how far spending exceeded the budget. SPD's Whitcomb said the overage was “substantial,” but more detailed information would not be made available until the OPA investigation is completed. 

Meantime, the SPD training unit is ramping up again as departmental reforms continue. More overtime is unavoidable unless the city wants to reduce the number of officers on patrol at any given time. But Murray said he will make it clear to the next police chief that overtime needs to be and closely tracked and controlled and its use justified.

Murray announced his pick for SPD chief former Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole.  {Doubt anything will change frankly}


  1. Police in this state have no respect for anyone. They get paid to be professional ass holes. They know they do not have to follow the rules so they don't. They are out of control and it is absolutely pathetic that these officers are suing.

  2. You have to understand the history of the Seattle Police and their sheer hubris. The Police Officers Guild aka the "union" which in any other profession is some type of albatross to progression is actually in this case demonstrating that belief. They have been promoted to positions of authority and in turn any citizen who filed a claim or report of Police abuse, etc were then promptly sued by the same Guild. So these Police that are supposedly "pro se" are undoubtedly working with the Attorney's for the Guild who have consulted and advised in the prior civil suits. Police just like Prosecutors are immune from isolated civil suits but one wonders why the citizenry of Seattle have not done the same and filed a class action lawsuit against the City and Police for failure to serve and protect.