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by Peter Moskos

February 22, 2011

Seattle Police Union to Cops: Lay Low

Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat has a worrisome article in the paper:
"You are paid to use your discretion and there are many ways to do police work. Recent events should show us that many in the city really don't want aggressive officers who generate on-view incidents. They want officers who avoid controversy and simply respond when summoned by 911."
What the union head is suggesting here is that the scrutiny of police is so severe right now, and so lopsided, that cops should mostly just respond, not initiate.

"If there's borderline criminal or suspicious activity, I say let it go," O'Neill said when I asked him to elaborate. "Don't go out on a limb. It's not worth it."
Won't crime go up?

"That might be a consequence," O'Neill said. "But the leaders of this city need to decide how they want it around here."

Like I said: Uh-oh.
[thanks to Sgt T]

1 comment:

College Cop said...

I'm actually something of a fan of the whole concept of "De-Policing" as a form of passive protest.

The people want cops to protect them and maintain order, but reality is VERY harsh (more harsh than many of them realize) and sometimes things either don't look right, or they truly go sideways. When they do and cops (rightly or sometimes wrongly) take action to stop it, bad things start to happen, eventually ending up with some well meaning, caring copper being thrown under the nearest bus.

"Dammned if you do, dammned if you don't" is the situation the citizenry puts us in, but the truth is that "if you don't" you'll probably still be ok.

I once heard a city cop who'se area includes my campus tell me that "you can get in trouble for doing your job, you can't get in trouble for sitting under a shade tree waiting for the next call". I agree with the Seattle Union guy, even understanding that cops MUST play by the rules (laws), society still basically needs to decide what it wants from us.