Rantz: Director who investigates police under fire for bashing cops

Mar 19, 2023, 1:05 PM | Updated: 8:48 pm

Tamer Abouzeid...

OLEO Director Tamer Abouzeid is under fire for tweets bashing police, calling for the public to bring down and "completely replace" the entire criminal justice system, and attacking perceived political opponents as fascists and white supremacists. (King County Council Meeting)

(King County Council Meeting)

Tamer Abouzeid is a radical anti-police activist. He’s also the civilian director of the agency that oversees and investigates King County Sheriff’s deputies. And now Abouzeid is under fire for tweets bashing police, calling for the public to bring down and “completely replace” the entire criminal justice system, and attacking perceived political opponents as fascists and white supremacists. His conduct is generating bipartisan rebukes from the King County Council, as well as the union representing Sheriff’s deputies and the Sheriff herself.

In a March 3 letter to King County Executive Dow Constantine and the County Council, King County Police Guild President Mike Mansanarez outlined troubling comments that Abouzeid emailed to colleagues. He then posted them on the official Twitter account for the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO), indicating it’s the official position of the independent agency.

In response to the death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tenn., Abouzeid claimed “the entire legal system is rotten” and that “it is not about individuals or bad apples, but a racist system with convoluted priorities and arrogant situations.” He explained that “we work within a system that many of us–myself included–believe should be dismantled.” He said the system “cannot be reformed” and that they “must be brought down by the power of the people.”

The Guild board members said they were “shocked by the unprofessional social media outburst” and that “we expect better” from Abouzeid. But if the Guild was disturbed by tweets from the OLEO account, they ought to review Abouzeid’s personal Twitter. It’s filled with anti-police vitriol and other extremist views posted within the last few months.

This is Part One of a two-part series on Abouzeid’s conduct and troubling beliefs.

Seattle City Attorney: Time to create ‘accountability in the public safety system’

Abouzeid’s cop hatred on full Twitter display

Abouzeid is very active on Twitter, including during the work day. Though his account @TamerLikeHammer is not owned by the county, he still lists his official title in the bio indicating little difference between his personal views and those he adopts as the OLEO director. This account features unhinged and alarming views about police and the criminal justice system.

Abouzeid is no fan of police, having served on a Chicago Democrat Socialists of America committee to defund the Chicago Police Department, efforts that led to surges in homicides and unprecedented attacks on police.

He says staffing and funding police departments only serves to “perpetuate more fear, pain, and trauma” on blacks and Latinos. He opined the risk for politicians to demand we “defund the police.” And even though defunding was a success, leading to record-low staffing for police departments nationwide, he complains that “we can afford a cop on every corner but not a nurse in every school?” Abouzeid even spread a baseless conspiracy that cops impacted by fentanyl exposure on the job are “likely stories of cops who are consuming drugs themselves and overdosing.”

He appears sympathetic to the accused Atlanta “cop city” domestic terrorists, blaming police for the death of Manuel Teran, who was killed after police note he shot and seriously wounded a police officer. He mourned Teran’s death, claiming the activist “fought for each one of us.” Abouzeid also seemingly defended riots as a response to Nichols’ death, complaining that “racists… already have their talking points: if protests are too forceful, they’ll do they’re usual ‘riot’ schtick; if not forceful enough, they’ll say you only care when the officers are white.”

It’s unclear if Abouzeid mass-deleted tweets prior to December 2022. Cached versions of his Twitter indicate he may have deleted tweets, including retweets of the account @DivestSPD. That account doxes police officers and calls for police defunding. One retweet mocked a Seattle police officer for receiving mental health treatment.

Everyone is a racist, white supremacist, or fascist

If Abouzeid disagrees with someone politically, they’re a racist or a fascist. Even when he agrees with a person, if that person is a Republican, he smears them as a racist.

When Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison criticized the police in the death of Nichols, Abouzeid called her a “fascist” who targets black people for prosecution, demanding, “Keep Tyre’s name the [expletive] out of your mouth, Ann.”

The OLEO director tweeted that “the law-and-order crowd gives zero [expletive] about any laws that do not perpetuate the oppression of poor, working-class, and/or not-white people.” According to Abouzeid, advocating for “law-and-order” is a manifestation of “white supremacy.”

The socialist radical claims Republicans are openly calling for Jim Crow laws. He ignorantly argues that it is a GOP principle to “exploit the working class and strengthen a capitalist, christofascist, white supremacist state.” When President Joe Biden said it was possible to garner bipartisan support on some issues, Abouzeid complained, “How you gonna be bipartisan with a fascist party?” He also refers to the Republican party as the “white supremacist party.”

Though he’s quick to call people fascists, he supports efforts to prevent speech he disagrees with. He urged Chicago students to prevent conservatives from speaking on college campuses.

One of his most vile comments came from a retweeted video of Jane Fonda visiting Vietnam, calling for the execution of American prisoners of war. In the video, she calls them “war criminals.” Abouzeid celebrated Fonda because “she used her platform to speak truth to (imperialist) power.”

UPDATE (March 19 at 8:36 p.m.): Lawmakers condemning Abouzeid tweets

There should be little doubt that Abouzeid can objectively oversee alleged deputy misconduct. He hates cops and wants law enforcement agencies dismantled.

A spokesperson for King County Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall said she “has no comments on this matter.” A second spokesperson followed-up saying the Sheriff will review the letter and concerns next week. King County council members are aware of the tweets. In an interview on the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, Councilmember Reagan Dunn condemned the tweets, noting he’s “not confident” that the OLEO director can be objective in his role.

“The person that runs that office needs to be an impartial administrator of the facts with investigatory authority over police actions of misconduct, if and when they occur in King County. And what you have here is somebody who’s acting like an activist and not a taxpayer paid administrator,” Dunn exclusively told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “He needs to check the Twitter at the door, stop talking in those activist words, phrases and move to his Administrator role. I think it’s a huge mistake to use any kind of government resources to push those kinds of things.”

Councilmember Claudia Balducci endorsed Abouzeid for the position. She should be well aware of his tweets: she not only follows his account, but she tweets at him. She did not respond to requests for comment. Councilmembers Joe McDermott, Rod Dembowski, and Sarah Perry also follow Abouzeid. Only Perry responded to a request for comment.

“I find this situation to be disappointing as I have been working in earnest for the past 15 months to build relationships with the police chiefs for the 10 cities and surrounding areas in District 3,” Councilmember Perry explained to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “Throughout my time in office, these chiefs have been working hand in hand with me, with our fire chiefs, behavioral health specialists and the Snoqualmie and Tulalip Tribes to figure out how to effectively respond to the needs of the most vulnerable in our district. The point of the role of the Director of the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight is to bring greater understanding and discourse between our law enforcement officers and residents in King County. These statements on social media serve to deeper schisms rather than foster trust. I am frustrated by this setback.”

Councilmembers Girmay Zahilay, himself an outspoken critic of police, Dave Upthegrove, Pete von Reichbauer, and Jeanne Kohl-Welles did not respond to weekend requests for comment. Executive Dow Constantine would not comment on Abouzeid’s conduct.

Abouzeid did not respond to requests for comment.

UPDATE: After publication, Councilmember Dembowski sent the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH a statement.

“I have very serious concerns about the views expressed by the OLEO director on the official OLEO Twitter account. In recent weeks I have proactively shared my concerns directly with our Council Chair and other colleagues,” Dembowski said. “My concern is that they could put our system of independent oversight, which I have worked for years to build up, at risk in the event that an OLEO investigation, findings or recommendations were challenged as unfair, biased, or improperly motivated. Personal political views and activities are protected by our County Charter. But official channels should reflect government office policy. The tweet calling for ‘dismantling’ our sheriff’s department doesn’t reflect my views. Our deputies have tough jobs. When mistakes are made, or improper actions occur, it’s imperative that our civilian oversight system not be tainted with bias in order for it to work as designed. In that regard, the expressed views are concerning to me in terms of what I want and expect from our Office of Law Enforcement Oversight.”

UPDATE (March 19 at 8:36 p.m.): The Sheriff condemns Abouzeid’s tweets

After this story was published, Cole-Tindall sent an all-staff email addressing Abouzeid’s online conduct. The Sunday night email came after a number of deputies were upset over the tweets. Some knew this would eventually come to a head; others learned about it first from the Guild or this story.

“I am writing this email to you because I want to clarify that I do not in any way condone the statements made by OLEO Director, Tamer Abouzeid, that were posted on Twitter which are considered anti-police. I have addressed my concerns through the proper channels which are the Executive’s Office and the County Council,” Sheriff Cole-Tindall wrote in an email obtained by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “I have been part of the KCSO family for going on 8 years and I care deeply about the profession of law enforcement as well as each person who works for the King County Sheriff’s Office. I am disappointed that Director Abouzeid would make such statements given his role in the Office Law Enforcement Oversight.”

She concluded by saying she “will take the high road and do what is best for our agency.”

Two former King County sheriffs also weighed in, criticizing Abouzeid’s conduct in conversations with the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

“It is critical that the Office of Law Enforcement–including its director–be neutral, both in words and actions as well as perception. Otherwise the office won’t have support or credibility with the public or the deputies. Both are critical if OLEO is going to be successful. The comments, at least as relayed to me, are very concerning, to say the least,” former Sheriff John Urquhart exclusively told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “The first order of business for Sheriff Cole-Tindall should be to sit down and have a private meeting with him. I hope that has already occurred. She needs to let him know that his comments are unacceptable and jeopardize the working relationship between the Sheriff’s Office and OLEO.”

Former Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht was equally critical, noting that Cole-Tindall was the interim OLEO director before becoming Sheriff. She said Cole-Tindall should know why it’s important for Abouzeid to be objective.

UPDATE (March 19 at 8:36 p.m.): Abouzeid plays the victim

Abouzeid responded to this story on Sunday night via Twitter. He appears to call concern from the Guild, councilmembers Perry and Dunn, and the Sheriff as “manufactured outrage.” He also implied he’s the victim of “bad-faith actors,” though does not address criticism of his tweets.

“In case you’re here looking for a response from me to some manufactured outrage (which unfortunately some decent folks have been pulled into), you won’t find anything: I will not engage with bad-faith actors; attacks started on me before I even started the job,” he claimed.

It’s unclear which “decent folks” were pulled into the story. Everyone quoted in this piece is critical of Abouzeid’s conduct. Notably, he does not deny he is incapable of doing his job objectively, due to his views.

County has weak track record on OLEO directors

Abouzeid’s appointment was made after the council ditched previous OLEO Director Deborah Jacobs.

Jacobs ouster came after an internal investigation for creating a “toxic” work environment. She was accused of making a number of bigoted and offensive comments, including saying only a white man could do certain jobs at OLEO and telling a Black employee that a Black-owned business was “ghetto.” She’s also accused of hiring friends over more qualified candidates and has routinely called the Sheriff’s Deputies she oversees “[expletive] heads.” And it wasn’t the first time she’s faced troubling accusations.

A Sheriff’s deputy said Jacobs made inappropriate comments on the size of a deceased man’s genitalia at the Medical Examiner’s Office during an unrelated autopsy. The deputy said the comment was “definitely sexual in nature” and made him feel uncomfortable enough to complain to the Sheriff’s Office. After an investigation, no disciplinary action was taken on this complaint.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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