Military and Police

Judge Unexpectedly Rules Seattle Police Department in Full Compliance With DOJ Decree

This insult to the concept of justice is an apt example of President Obama’s highly politicized DOJ fabricating a bogus consent decree, piling nonsense “compliance” requirements on officers, and then proclaiming the department “cured” – well, almost.

In what the Seattle Times is calling “a landmark ruling” by U.S. District Judge James Robart, the judge has just found the Seattle Police Department (SPD) in “full and effective compliance” with a Department of Justice (DOJ) federal consent decree inflicted on the department five years ago.

“Citing data and case samples over a 28-month period, the monitor found overall use of force dropped both across time under the consent decree and when compared with the period that led to the Justice Department’s findings in 2011.”

Well, when you begin with an absurdly high (fake) number [of use-of-force violations], logic dictates it should be easy to reduce that phony number dramatically. You know, after the initial lie, they finally report the real number that should have been reported in the first place and then label it “reform.”

Isn’t this something like telling your little brother his perfectly fine bicycle is broken, telling him you fixed it, and then expecting him to view you as a hero?

This insult to the concept of justice is an apt example of President Obama’s highly politicized DOJ fabricating a bogus consent decree, piling nonsense “compliance” requirements on officers, and then proclaiming the department “cured” – well, almost. More on “almost” in a moment.

Isn’t this something like telling your little brother his perfectly fine bicycle is broken, telling him you fixed it, and then expecting him to view you as a hero? Make no mistake; Mr. Holder’s DOJ came to town to “fix” something that wasn’t broken. Now, they want us to believe they are our saviors for delivering Seattle from its own evil cops. Well, you’re not going to get an amen from me.

The judge is not saying the department is exactly cured. That would never do. Not if lefty lawmakers want to keep meddling with the city’s law enforcement officers, which they do. Judge Robart and newly elected Mayor Jenny Durkan pointed out this was only phase 1 and that phase 2, remaining in compliance, may be even more difficult.

Robart wrote, “Nevertheless, the court cautions the City and SPD that this [ruling] does not mean their work is done. In many ways, Phase II is the most difficult portion of the Consent Decree to fulfill.” How convenient. Phase 2 is supposed to last two years.

We’ll see. Better yet, let’s hope Attorney General Sessions puts this farce out of SPD’s misery for good. An action like that could help nudge Seattle back to the rule of law and a focus on equal justice rather than social justice. I know, as they say these days, this is a big ask.

Speaking of AG Sessions, is there an interesting timing issue here? After years of expressing frustration over SPD’s lack of compliance, the DOJ changes hands, and suddenly the Judge overseer finds the department in compliance. In fact, just last September, Merrick Bobb, the federal monitor and after-the-fact co-conspirator for enforcing the bogus consent decree found “Seattle police have yet to comply with some of the key requirements [in the 2012 consent decree].” Apparently, the judge disagreed and now Mr. Bobb’s golden goose may stop laying eggs sooner than he’d prefer.

Merrick Bobb is the one federal inquisitor who, while not outright admitting the DOJ’s numbers were wrong, at least alluded (probably accidentally) to the fraudulent nature of the basis for the consent decree. In an August 2013 interview with the editor of the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild newspaper, The Guardian, the editor asked Bobb about the questionable data the consent decree was based on that the DOJ passed off as legitimate.

Mr. Bobb answered, “Whatever the correct figure might be, it is not relevant to our task today. This is not the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s. The feud is over, and past disagreements must not impede current progress. What I know for sure is that the settlement agreement embodies best practice in policing and that it is to the SPD’s and Seattle’s benefit that it be implemented regardless of what led up to it.” And no, this is not an excerpt from George Orwell’s novel 1984.

“Whatever the correct figure might be?” “Regardless of what led up to it?”

It’s also been reported that “Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a dim view of consent decrees reached during the Obama years, ordering a review of such agreements already in place and signaling a retreat from bringing new cases.” I don’t think its hyperbole to declare the cop witch-hunt may be ending – at least at the federal level – at least for now.

Could this positive finding be a result of the city’s cabal of cop-critics losing allies in Washington D.C.? Hey, I’m just asking. After all, as the Times pointed out, Mayor Durkan “was the U.S. attorney in Seattle when the Justice Department in 2011 found deficiencies in the Police Department.” During her recent run for mayor, she pledged to press for a sustained reform regime – never-ending reform. After all, if she tried to fix a police department that wasn’t broken in 2011, why not try to “fix” a department that has supposedly been fixed in 2018?

Still, even if you accept that the officer was completely in the wrong and the man he shot was totally in the right, how does one case, involving one rookie officer, indicate a police department needs wholesale reform?

Initially, with the ACLU taking the local lead, the feds conscripted some high-profile use-of-force cases as a foundation allowing the federal court to quasi-federalize Seattle’s police department. In the vast majority of these force cases, officers were found to have acted properly and were in compliance with their training.

But that was not good enough for the cop-hunters from D.C. The primary spark was provided when, under dubious circumstances, a rookie police officer shot a chronic street-inebriant, well known to the area’s veteran cops, who was armed with a knife. The officer was fired but not criminally prosecuted.

Still, even if you accept that the officer was completely in the wrong and the man he shot was totally in the right, how does one case, involving one rookie officer, indicate a police department needs wholesale reform? It doesn’t. This was an isolated incident and should not have been viewed as indicative of typical SPD officer behavior. But the left needed to create the narrative and that doesn’t work without first inventing the mythology of killer cops.

Hopefully, the (not-so-funny) joke on Seattle’s police officers may soon be over. But I wouldn’t count on it. With a mayor and many city council members who have been openly hostile to law enforcement, any reprieve is likely to be short-lived.

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Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at www.stevepomper.com.

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