Seattle police Union president calls Facebook post a ‘red herring’
Jul 13, 2016, 6:25 PM | Updated: Jul 14, 2016, 10:38 am
The general assumption was that a controversial Facebook post led to Det. Ron Smith’s resignation announcement as president of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild.
But KIRO Radio’s Don O’Neill and Josh Kerns believe that narrative is actually a cover for the rank-and-file’s dissatisfaction with the ongoing contract negotiations.
O’Neill said he spoke with nine different officers Wednesday who plan to vote down the most recent contract proposal – not because of the proposed raise, increase in oversight or dedication to community policing, but related to language that would allow the police chief and upper management to reassign or demote officers to other departments and roles.
“There are reprisals going on within the department and that’s one of the reasons, from my understanding, why this contract is getting voted down,” O’Neill said. “And why some of the rank-and-file wanted Ron Smith out.”
The union president is the key liaison between officers and management. Kerns described the job as a “brass knuckles” and sometimes “ugly” job. Smith has received flack over the years for his unapologetic defense and outspokenness of his members. Things came to a head, though, after a social media post following the shooting of police officers in Dallas. The post, which was later deleted, read:
Dallas PD and their officers are in our thoughts and prayers…. The hatred of law enforcement by a minority movement is disgusting… Heads in swivels brothers and sisters…
Smith said his resignation stems from the post, which was “blown out of proportion,” but told The Seattle Times that he expected his board to ask for his resignation over anger related to his collaborative relationship with Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole and acceptance of accountability measures in a tentative contract with the city.
“I think it’s a red herring,” Smith told the Times.
O’Neill called Smith’s post “dumb,” but agrees that the“down and dirty” contract negotiations also played a role.
“The Facebook thing was kind of window dressing,” O’Neill said.
Kerns called the controversial post an “opportunity” for the rank-and-file to force a change.
“Any way you slice it, given what was going on in the country with the shootings, to not only say a ‘minority movement’ but then quote Dr. Martin Lutehr King, was just stupid. There was no political way anybody could stand by him as a result,” Kerns said.
“The feeling within the rank-and-file is that the mayor did not support them with the Department of Justice investigation and now he has brought in a police chief who many feel is a political appointee here to shepherd the department through the DOJ process and then is on her way to Washington DC and couldn’t care less about the rank-and-file,” he added. “And they feel like Ron Smith ultimately capitulated to some of that. Now, Ron would tell you the exact opposite – but that’s some of the dynamics at play.”