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Rantz: Seattle cops’ savage ‘disgrace,’ ’embarrassment’ in former chief turned council candidate

Jim Pugel, assistant Seattle police chief at the time, talks with his attorney outside the Federal Courthouse in Seattle Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2007 amid a trial over a WTO protest. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

It wasn’t long after news broke that former interim Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel plans to run for City Council that cops made it clear they’re not fans. Actually, that’s being too kind.

“Jim Pugel is a disgrace to all of the brave men and women who proudly and professionally serve as police officers in the City of Seattle,” one SPD officer told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

“He is an absolute embarrassment,” another cop said.

The reasons he earns such intense ire are plentiful. But most officers who I spoke with point to Pugel’s recent endorsement of I-940, an initiative that made it easier to politically prosecute officers who use deadly force.

Promoting the initiative, Pugel appeared in an ad with the sister of Charleena Lyles who was shot and killed by officers after she lured cops to her apartment before attempting to stab them with a knife. It also put Pugel on the same side as activist Andre Taylor, whose brother, convicted felon Che Taylor, was killed by police after the officers and a witness saw him pull a gun. Che Taylor was prohibited from possessing a weapon.

Local activist and Community Police Commission member Lisa Daugaard joined Pugel at the announcement. She recently pushed to kill the SPD contract and is widely viewed by cops as antagonistic.

Pugel’s position on I-940 and his associations has many cops view him as a “sellout” to officers.

“[Pugel’s] collaboration with … Andre Taylor on I-940 puts officers at greater risk of being injured or killed,” one officer explained. “What a sellout.”

“On I-940, even basic public facts … eluded his grasp,” another officer said. “As an ex-police officer, and deputy, one would hope he would be able to use even the most rudimentary common sense [when reviewing 940]. I guess this shows what kind of city councilman he would make. Our very own Malorie Hayes, blind to what’s going on around him.”

“His appearance on the I-940 commercials is troubling to me,” another officer told me. “The fact that he would be arm-in-arm with (Lyle’s) sister, without really understanding or knowing all of the investigative facts, was really hurtful, actually.  How could he do that to the officers involved – who still are not back to work…?”

Pugel acknowledges he’s in a tough spot, though perhaps not for the right reason.

“Some people see the word ‘police officer’ and don’t like police officers. But if you look at my record …. you’ll see a person who likes to solve problems in a respectful way, with everyone at the table,” Pugel said to The Seattle Times. “We don’t have to put everyone in jail.”

He’s right to acknowledge there is deep anti-cop sentiment in Seattle that might hurt his campaign, but he’ll use Daugaard to show he’s the “right kind” of former cop — one defined by rather far-left positions.

Perhaps Pugel will be able to avoid the attacks from loud, fringe Seattle activists over his association with the SPD. But will they forgive his decidedly politically incorrect mocking of homeless people in a video in 1986?

“Jim Pugel appeared in a video making fun of homeless people in the ’80s and got away with it,” one veteran officer told me. “Pugel is devoid of any moral fiber and will fit right in with the other wackos on city council.”

Pugel has previously apologized for the video.

“I am skeptical of what Chief Pugel’s motivation is,” an officer explained. This particular officer worked on hiring officers with Pugel. The officer explains some candidates got favorable treatment, though the hires were good for the force.

“We coined a term, ‘FOP’, which meant Friend of Pugel, which ultimately meant that the candidate would be hired because it was [a] person Pugel had recruited or referred to the department,” the officer explained. “But, all of the FOPs who were hired turned out (ultimately) to be decent officers, and some are really exceptional officers. However, having said that, I really thought he was level-headed in his position, and would often be the voice of reason in getting people hired.”

This officer also wonders if it’s worth getting too upset over.

“I don’t know where Chief Pugel sits with support of police in general,” the officer explained. “He could use his position to improve SPD or to continue to break SPD down.”

“I think that so many officers, detectives, and sergeants feel so defeated that at this point … does it really matter?”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show, at his new time, weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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