Victim and fellow officer debate whether the punishment fit the crime
Three Bellevue Police Officers are being disciplined for questionable behavior during and outside a Seattle Seahawks football game in September. While some are saying the punishments are not enough, one of the victims of the officers’ bad behavior says the punishment was too harsh.
The disciplinary action comes after Jeff, whose name has been changed in our stories to protect his privacy, came on The Dori Monson Show to talk about drunken officers behaving badly during the game.
Jeff said the officers came in the stadium shortly before the end of the first quarter. They appeared to be intoxicated and stumbled as they took their seats.
“It was a lot of swear words,” said Jeff. “They all had alcohol in their hands.”
Several officers continued their rowdy behavior even after Jeff asked them to contain themselves in front of his young son. They reportedly flashed their badges and mentioned being part of “Bellevue’s finest.” All of the officers were eventually kicked out of the stadium.
It was later uncovered that the same officers were also responsible for hassling a Seattle Police Officer outside the stadium, after she asked them to pick up a plastic cup one officer had thrown to the ground.
Officer Andy Hanke, a seven year veteran, received a 30 day suspension and was removed from the bomb squad, while 22-year veteran Corporal Dion Robertson was demoted to officer and lost his supervisory responsibilities on the Bomb Squad.
After hearing the details of the punishments, Jeff reflected that the suspensions and demotions may have been harsher than necessary.
“You know, I was a bit amazed that it was as harsh as it is,” said Jeff. “I was fully expecting it to be something less. I mean – let’s face it, being demoted pretty much cancels your opportunities to go up the ladder down the road. That’s a pretty significant hit they took.”
Given some of the bad behavior he’s seen at games in the past, Jeff wonders if this punishment fits the crime.
“Certainly for a 22- and seven-year vet, I mean these guys, that’s their life. I do feel very bad for the families involved, kids that need to go to college and stuff, and reduction in pay. That’s bad stuff,” said Jeff.
Another local police officer disagrees. He thinks the officers should have been fired, or resigned of their own volition given their behavior and that they admitted to driving drunk.
The officer, who wished to remain unnamed, wrote in to the show to express his concerns with what he saw as very minimal consequences for the officers involved:
I am angry.
I read the outcome of the Bellevue officers who were involved in the abhorrent behavior at the Seahawks game.
I understand that Chief Pillo has to wrestle between the union and what should be done. But the extreme behaviors by the officers demanded a more severe result. Morally, the officers should have resigned for their criminal behavior, especially the officer who admittedly drove drunk (via the investigation). All of my peace officer career, I have fought impaired drivers. I have lost friends to impaired drivers. I despise DUIs and I despise drunks. So to read that one knowingly drove impaired angers me. The right and moral thing to do is to resign and find something else to do.
But because they did not take the moral route, they now face punitive sanctions that amounts to a small loss of pay in the long run. They should have been released and de-certified as peace officers.
By keeping them in their position, they ultimately taint me and those who are doing our best to be decent and honorable peace officers. How do the general citizens trust peace officers when our own are not held to the highest standards? I am comforted by the fact that in my agency, they would have been forced out for those behaviors. But apparently not in Bellevue. Yes, they have rights. But their moral position or compass should have demanded their resignation.
Yes. I am angry.