SPOG President: SPD is the ‘most accountable agency, bar none’
Mar 30, 2023, 11:00 AM | Updated: 11:33 am
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)
Despite the consent decree court order between the City of Seattle and its police department being set to conclude after more than a decade, Mike Solan, president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, stated this decree has been ready to sunset for years.
“The Department of Justice (DOJ) can stick around here for however long they want, we really don’t care. We are proud of the fact that, collectively, we’ve done the hard work to get us into reform three years ago,” Solan said on The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “It doesn’t really impact us. In fact, it was DOJ and the fact that they were still here during the summer of 2020, is the reason why we’re able to still use crowd control tactics and save the city, let alone lose another precinct to utter chaos and domestic terrorists that were assaulting police officers and conducting property damage.”
The Office of Police Accountability (OPA) reported nearly 19,000 citizen complaints, including some duplicates, were received over the course of four weeks after May 25, the day George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, according to The Seattle Times.
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But allegations of unnecessary force by the SPD were down 61% in 2021 compared to 2020, a trend that has continued through 2023.
“And they were trying to remove the ability for officers to use less lethal tools to save lives. And to us, that was absolutely egregious. So naive and backward thinking that it was appalling, and still is to this day,” Solan said. “We’ve lost countless amount of officers since 2020. But more importantly, during those riots, we had hundreds of officers injured, many of them with career-ending injuries, and still, there’s been no acknowledgment to the officers that were hurt publicly by our elected officials condemning the actions of the criminals.”
Federal Judge Richard Jones ruled in 2021 that the SPD was in contempt for violating an order to stop the “indiscriminate” use of chemical irritants or projectiles against protesters. The judge stated SPD had failed to prove that its use of pepper spray, pepper balls, blast balls, and paintballs during certain Black Lives Matter protests was valid, according to NPR.
However, after reviewing evidence, including extensive videos and police reports, Jones said officers were justified in responding with those weapons.
“We’re the most accountable agency in the United States of America in terms of policing, bar none,” Solan said. “I’ll debate that with anybody. And we will win.”
Solan stated the SPD is working on an expired contract, and while it is normal for SPOG to negotiate a new deal while operating on an expired deal for three to four years, it has already been nearly 2.5 years without a new contract.
“I would say that retention is the No. 1 issue that impacts this job. The only way they can retain the current professional police officer from continuing to flee is to provide us a fair, competitive labor contract bar none,” Solan said. “We’ve lost close to 600 cops in three years, and we’re still at the bargaining table, which is positive, but we’re not quite there in terms of getting a contract. I think it speaks volumes in terms of the politics still being inserted in the public safety political discourse here.”
According to SPOG, SPD has lost 551 officers and counting, not including a projection of 147 officers expected to leave the department in 2023.
“And the bigger concern is, we’re worried about them lessening the standards to get hired,” Solan continued. “And then, once they pass all their rigorous training — hopefully that doesn’t get degraded just to get a body in the uniform — do they have the skillset, the acumen to be a professional police officer to serve? That’s a major concern for us.”
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Nationally, police retirements and resignations increased by 45% and 18% nationwide, respectively, while hiring is down 5%, according to a November report from the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).
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