Friday, December 23, 2011

Labor Goes After Seattle PD

Over the past two years or so, the Seattle Police Department has been mired in controversy over several incidents of excessive use of force. The most noteworthy example was when a SPD member shot and killed a woodcarver in downtown when the woodcarver made a threatening move towards the police officer who shot him. There have been other incidents recent which finally caught the attention of the US Justice Department.  After a top-down review, the report was particularly harsh on the SPD, especially the senior-level leadership.

Now a influential labor group, the King County Labor Council, has called for Mayor Mike McGinn to replace or shuffle the SPD leadership.

The King County Labor Council urged McGinn to make sweeping changes to the command structure with SPD, calling the leadership within the department “deficient” and saying there’s a lack of oversight from the top down. (Source: Seattle PI)

The council might not be reaching far enough in my opinion. They are calling for changes within the department, which I think might be a good idea, but I think they need to look at McGinn. While it is true that McGinn is not the Chief of Police for the SPD, John Diaz, who is the chief, works for McGinn. Diaz does admit the DOJ report has merit and changes will be made.

Executive secretary David Frieboth writes that “this situation is particularly troubling, as it tars good cops with the sins of the few.”

He also writes that there appears to be a “pattern of excessive force that clearly indicates deficient leadership,” and “this absence of accountability reveals a major defect in leadership at the Seattle Police Department.” (Source: Seattle PI)

I do have to wonder why a labor group would stick their nose into an issue that really is kind of out of their area of expertise. While everyone does have an opinion about the SPD situation, a labor group is probably reaching outside their neighborhood by getting involved with this matter.

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