JASON RANTZ

Seattle police officer quit over mistreatment by council, Kshama Sawant

Sep 5, 2018, 5:58 AM | Updated: 6:11 am
seattle police...
(File, Associated Press)
(File, Associated Press)

As a recruitment crisis looms at the Seattle Police Department, one officer has had enough. Sick of being demonized by the city council and, in particular, Councilmember Kshama Sawant, the officer made the decision to quit.

That officer made a lateral move to another law enforcement agency.

RELATED: Chief Best and SPD’s staffing issues

The news last month was positive for many officers. The Seattle Police Officer’s Guild reached a tentative contract agreement with the city and insiders believe the membership will approve it. Still, a lack of contract was only one of three major issues leading to what officers claim is record-low morale within the department.

Indeed, in this case, a new contract didn’t matter.

Seattle police officers have long-complained they are being mistreated by the city council and an over-zealous Office of Professional Accountability (OPA). Now, we have an inside look at why one officer is leaving the department.

The officer in question offered me access to a document he provided to HR explaining why he is leaving. The officer released this with the hopes of changing the attitudes between the SPD and the council and to back up claims of a “mass exodus” of officers leaving the department — or getting ready to.

I’ve agreed to keep his identity anonymous.

Constantly demonized compared to Nazis

The officer left the Seattle Police Department because of “the lack of support from the city” and how politicized the position became. The officer mentions Sawant by name, calling her out for labeling cops as “murderers” and claimed to be “forced to adhere to a political ideology that most officers disagree with.”

“Officers are feeling that they are nothing more than a political punching bag,” the officer said in the document. “…that they are the sacrificial lambs on the altar of so called police reform.”

I recently asked Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best about criticisms from the council. While she wouldn’t call out Sawant directly, Chief Best recently told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that she’s proud of her officers and will fight to defend them against spurious attacks.

“When I hear things that aren’t true, I’m going to make sure I will counter with the truth,” Chief Best explained. “All we can do is put the truth out there, the best way that we know it, and people are going to decide for themselves how they feel about it. What I do know is that officers are working hard every day, they’re saving lives … so I will counter anything with the truth.”

But the concerns go beyond the council. Indeed, the officer told me this isn’t his only issue and it wasn’t the only time he felt unfairly targeted. In the document, he argues he was “Subjected to demoralizing training” where cops were compared to Nazis.

“In 2017, all officers were mandated to attend an extremely offensive and demeaning training called ‘Law Enforcement and Society: Lessons from the Holocaust,’” the officer explained to me in an email. “This was not optional. We were forced to attend a day of training where we were subjected to a slideshow and lecture on how the German police were essentially converted into the SS in the Nazi Regime and did Hitler’s bidding by rounding up the Jews etc. and the lessons we would learn from it in our current police climate. We then broke out into discussion where we were asked how we think the public views law enforcement which was steered in a direction of negative perceptions. And we were encouraged to be more ‘understanding’ of these perceptions.”

It’s not that history isn’t important, the officer tells me. It’s that the training made it seem like officers are perceived to being close to turning into Nazis. Consequently, rather than appreciating the history, they ended up feeling slighted.

“We were made to feel like we, as cops, were complicit in the sins of the Nazis,” a second SPD officer tells me, backing up the claims made in the HR document.

OPA goes too far

Echoing the concerns of dozens of officers I’ve spoken to in the last several months covering the SPD, this officer took issue with the the Office of Professional Accountability. This organization investigates claims of misconduct and doles out recommendations for punishment.

The chain of command has been reviewing body camera footage looking for mistakes to turn over to the OPA, officers complain. They don’t take issue, they tell me, with serious cases of misconduct. They do, however, find it ridiculous to be investigated over small issues: filling out a form incorrectly or turning on a body camera a few seconds too late.

The officer in the document complained of “being subjected to nonsense complaints” by an “aggressive OPA, [and] out of touch Chain of Command.”

It’s an issue Seattle’s Chief of Police Carmen Best has heard and is addressing.

“We have to hold officers accountable … so we’re trying to strike the right balance,” Chief Best explained. “We’re still looking at making sure we get there. We haven’t reached perfection yet… [and] we want to make sure we’re holding people accountable, but we also want to let them do their job, so that’s what we’re doing.”

‘Dismal staffing’ and de-policing Seattle police

Is there a staffing crisis? My earlier report says the Seattle PD is nearing one. Officers argue it’s already happening.

According to the document, the officer complained he was “Being told to not on-view or be proactive” in his policing because of the “dismal staffing numbers” that’s even preventing officers from taking time off. The officer calls the issue “unsafe,” especially when they’re told they “cannot augment extra bodies when we are below minimum staffing levels … due to ‘budget.’”

This is a common complaint from officers, much of it due to a recruitment issue, which Chief Best describes as “significant” and says it concerns her.

“We’ve had a gap in recruiting,” Chief Best admits. She believes some of that stemmed from not having a new contract and hopes it will alleviate that part of the problem.

So, now what?

What’s next to address these issues is unclear. A contract certainly helps, cops believes, but it doesn’t get to the root causes of many concerns.

“The tentative contract isn’t swaying me to stay whatsoever,” the officer emailed me. “I became a police officer to make a difference. To enforce the law and serve the people. Don’t get me wrong. A paycheck is nice. But pride in my work and the freedom and autonomy to perform my duties for another agency and city that will actually appreciate it and not rake me over the coals for doing so are worth way more to me than a contract.”

What’s key for this former Seattle police officer — beyond being treated reasonably by the council — is changing the culture at OPA.

“High pay will mean nothing if I’m ever unfairly punished and have unpaid days off due to a bogus allegation investigated by an overzealous OPA,” he said.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday mornings from 6-9am on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
  • listen to jason rantzTune in to AM 770 KTTH weekdays at 3-6pm toThe Jason Rantz Show.

Jason Rantz Show

Jason Rantz

tacoma, officers, tacoma police, manny ellis, Urquhart...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Police staffing crisis in Tacoma is nearly as bad as in Seattle, morale ‘decimated’

The Tacoma Police Department is dramatically understaffed as crime continues to surge across the city. Police officers are now sounding the alarms.
3 days ago
vaccinations...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Inslee firing thousands isn’t about health – it’s about forced vaccinations

Governor Jay Inslee's COVID-19 vaccine mandate isn't about public health. It's about power and forced vaccinations. 
4 days ago
Troyer...
KTTH staff

Pierce County Sheriff Troyer says he knew charges were ‘coming since day one’

Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer joins the Jason Rantz Show to react to two misdemeanor charges against him from the attorney general's office.
4 days ago
troyer...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: State AG charges Pierce County Sheriff with 2 misdemeanors after ‘unusual’ move

Attorney General Bob Ferguson's office is readying misdemeanor charges against Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer. The filing could come as early as Tuesday.
5 days ago
police, consent decree...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Seattle mayor downplays crisis, falsely says only 24 officers didn’t turn in vaccine paperwork

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan told reporters on Monday that "only about two dozen officers have not put in their [vaccine] paperwork" ahead of the midnight deadline.
5 days ago
unvaccinated officers Seattle...
KTTH staff

Seattle mayor: ‘About two dozen’ SPD officers have yet to submit proof of vaccination

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and interim Chief Adrian Diaz both submitted final pleas to unvaccinated officers over the weekend. 
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
...
Comcast

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Seattle police officer quit over mistreatment by council, Kshama Sawant