Considering bias as Seattle selects a new police chief
The City of Seattle needs a new police chief. Three finalists for the job are making the rounds both publicly and privately before Mayor Jenny Durkan makes the final decision. Last night they met with community activists to talk about their views on police bias and accountability. Unsurprisingly, all three candidates said they will not tolerate bias.
Well, let’s talk about bias for a minute. And by the way, I’m 100 percent on board with doing whatever training can be done to minimize bias in policing, especially along racial lines.
However, isn’t bias and fairness a two way street? Just for fun, I looked up the definition of the word bias:
Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.
So basically, treat people fairly.
Since there’s most likely not going to be a community forum for the vast majority of citizens who are not part of a special interest group, I have some questions about bias and fairness.
- Is it fair for parking enforcement officers to ticket vehicles for minor infractions and ignore the major infractions of others? Yes, I’m looking at you RV campers.
- Is it fair to expect police officers to work without a contract for four years?
- Is it fair to ask men and woman in uniform that pledged to prevent and fight crime to blatantly ignore crimes happening right in front of them?
- Is it fair to expect community members to just accept a status quo where low level crimes are so rampant that many people have just given up reporting crime?
Obviously I could keep going, but I think you get my point.
The Code Of Ethics for the Seattle Police Department states they strive for “Justice, Excellence, Humility and Harm Reduction. Our department goals focus on preventing and fighting crime, community policing, and harm reduction.”
Number one on that list is preventing and fighting crime. Will the new police chief do that in an unbiased way for all crimes and for all citizens?
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