Contempt and Threats: The Troubling Behavior of the Seattle Police Union
A Growing Problem
In recent years, the Seattle Police Officers Guild has increasingly shown a disdainful attitude towards the public it is meant to serve and protect. This contemptuous behavior has not only hindered efforts to address the urgent issue of public safety in Seattle but has also eroded trust between the police and the community.
Last year, the guild began taunting the public on social media, posting screenshots of stories about crime in the city with the text “Feel Safer Yet?” This provocative messaging drew attention to the rising crime rates in Seattle but failed to promote a constructive dialogue or offer viable solutions.
The Guild’s Escalation
This year, the union’s messaging has become even more blunt and alarming. In May, they tweeted a photo of a badge with the words “I Quit!” written over it. In July, the guild organized a “sick out,” during which a significant number of patrol officers failed to respond to 911 calls on a busy Saturday night. Guild president Mike Solan defended this action, stating that the communities they serve and protect were not adequately protected. Such actions, along with the guild’s rhetoric, create a sense of threat and imply that the police force is incapable or unwilling to do its job effectively without more appreciation and support.
Contempt and Cruelty
The recent behavior of the Seattle Police Union has reached disturbing levels of contempt and callousness. Two top officials of the union were caught on tape laughing and joking about the death of a young woman who was hit by a police car. The insensitivity and lack of respect shown towards the victim, Jaahnavi Kandula, as well as the public and the system of accountability, is deeply concerning.
Additionally, the guild has been involved in other questionable incidents, including keeping a mock tombstone in a precinct break room to mock a man killed by the police and orchestrating a fake Proud Boys rally to distract protesters. These incidents collectively reflect a culture within the union that fosters a sense of disrespect, hostility, and a lack of accountability.
The Need for Reform and Trust-building
It is evident that there is a severe lack of trust between the Seattle Police Union and the community it serves. While it is essential to acknowledge that the drive to defund the police three years ago was flawed and lacked a well-thought-out plan to replace police services, the current behavior of the guild is exacerbating an already strained relationship.
The Role of Police Unions
Critics argue that police unions, not just the police themselves, are a key factor in perpetuating negative police culture and undermining public trust. Adam Serwer of The Atlantic suggests that to reform police culture and rebuild trust with the public, one overlooked approach is to de-unionize the police force. Camden, New Jersey, famously dissolved its police force and started afresh, successfully reforming and demilitarizing the department in the process.
While desiring accountability and reform, it is essential to recognize the significant role that unions play in protecting workers’ rights and ensuring fair pay and benefits. Therefore, it becomes a challenging balancing act to address concerns around police unions without undermining the crucial role they play in protecting the interests of their members.
Housecleaning and Restructuring
To address the issues with the Seattle Police Union, it is crucial for the union to undergo a process of self-reflection and re-evaluation. The contempt and callousness displayed by its officials undermine public faith in the police force.
Seattle authorities should also consider restructuring the current arrangement. One potential step could be to decertify the union or consider limiting its role to negotiating pay and benefits rather than protecting officers with a history of misconduct.
However, any reform must be carefully considered and discussed. Restructuring the union or making significant changes to its powers should be approached cautiously to ensure that the rights and well-being of police officers are protected, while also addressing the concerns and needs of the community.
A Path to a Safer Seattle
Ultimately, the goal should be to establish a robust department of public safety in Seattle that works collaboratively with the community rather than threatening it. Building trust between the police force and the public requires open and honest dialogue, accountability, and a commitment to reform. It is essential to find a way forward that ensures public safety while also maintaining the rights and well-being of police officers.
Addressing the problematic behavior of the Seattle Police Union and working towards meaningful reform is a challenging task, but it is necessary for the well-being and security of the community as a whole. Only by acknowledging and confronting these issues can Seattle move towards a more just and effective system of law enforcement.
<< photo by Markus Spiske >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.