12/19/2011

Seattle officers say DOJ unfairly targeted them

The DOJ said Seattle PD uses excessive force, but patrol officers say the numbers are skewed

By PoliceOne Staff

SEATTLE — Officers spoke out against the Department of Justice following its scathing report released Friday alleging "routine and systematic" violations by the Seattle Police Department.

Several anonymous rank-and-file officers spoke to the The Seattle Times and said figures in the DOJ report — such as the finding that 20 percent of officers' use-of-force violate Fourth Amendment protection — don't seem to add up.

"I don't think anyone believes it's that high," a lieutenant said. "This is a blow, but most of what I'm hearing they [DOJ] aren't right."

A detective agreed, stating that in a department the size of the Seattle PD, there would theoretically be "40 rogue guys or gals out there gratuitously beating people and getting away with it," something he has "a hard time believing."

Characterizing an entire department based on isolated incidents is damaging, several officers said further, and two retired Seattle officers insisted most cops are good.

"If the Seattle Police Department is corrupt, then the whole world is corrupt," Joseph Bouffiou, 68 said. "Do we have bad apples? Do we have a bad incident from a good guy once in awhile? Of course. But we're talking about rehashing the same handful of incidents over and over in a force of 1,200 officers."

"They said SPD officers 'routinely' did this, or 'routinely' did that," Martin Bisch, who retired last year, added. "What does that mean? Ten percent? Fifty percent? Seventy-five?"

Police Chief John Diaz also disputes the findings, but said some reforms have been implemented already, the Seattle Post Intelligencer reported. Diaz created a use-of-force review board and a Professional Standards Section to track best practices.

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