This was submitted from a post at the “media island international” blog and was written by Bruce Wilkinson. It discusses yet another instance of a police department (Olympia Washington) investigating itself after some of the officers employed by that department have committed violence against the public, as well as the very predictable outcome of that “investigation.” (Links within the post have been added and were not included in the original version.)
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The Olympia Police Department did nothing wrong when it comes to Officer Donald shooting two unarmed black youth according to their internal investigation. This is about the 100th time the OPD investigated itself and surprisingly found nothing wrong.
Several years ago I filed a complaint of OPD excessive force to the OPD and the OPD investigation ended with the same result. I then examined police auditor reports of other OPD complaints. The Police Auditor’s reports back then had one amazing detail, they were all statistically anomalous. A few things were very clear, the Police Auditor agreed 100% of the time with the police, meaning he was just a rubber stamp so I’m glad the fiction of his role is gone. The second was that of the 20 or so official complaints of excessive force, none of them were deemed legitimate.
I want you all to understand that these were official complaints, as in the person went back to the police that allegedly hurt them, filed a complaint, and then went through the investigator’s interview. I have to imagine that only a tiny sliver of people who have faced police brutality actually ever file a complaint, right? I mean maybe 1 in 20, 1 in 50 or more actually stand up and file? So these are very serious people who feel very righteous and of them all, zero of these excessive force complaints were deemed legitimate by OPD investigators. ZERO! This is statistically unlikely.
Right now, the City Council, including Stephen Buxbaum and Nathaniel Jones unfortunately aren’t taking real leadership in adequately dealing with this situation. Four years ago the City Council made one very bad mistake, they selected Police Chief Roberts an outsider who had little credentials. They selected this person for all the wrong reasons and Roberts has abused his position. The City Council immediately chose the route of sitting by his side during all of this rather than sitting across as righteous arbiters of a city needing answers from him. It feels as though Chief Roberts and Steve Hall are running the show and one thing should be clear that these men making $150k+ aren’t supposed to be the rulers.
Chief Roberts was responsible for hiring Officer Donald, now the city is facing suits against it because of this one bad decision and yet the city never has publically (sic) questioned this decision. But that isn’t the only bad decision. Chief Roberts was drawn in through a fearful City Council after the Port Militarization Resistance because, as City Manager Steve Hall said at the time, Roberts had experience from Eugene dealing with anarchists. And it is true, Lieutenant Roberts was in charge of investigations that sent 11 people to jail as terrorists during the green scare. He was a Renaissance man for police and FBI coordination and using fear to stifle a population.
Other than that, Chief Roberts had the amazing duty of Police Chief of Redmond Oregon a 98% white small town that has little of the dynamism of Olympia. And I think the racism charge has been leveled pretty strongly in this case against Officer Donald but Chief Roberts hired him and has flown free of any controversies. To this I can only say is his resume has no color to it unless it is on the conviction side.
Here in Oly he set immediately to work in endearing him to the ODA and then seeking more coordination with the Neighborhood Associations. But why did he do this? Was it to the benefit of Olympia? It seems that he had a mission, over exaggerate the crime problem and then gain more of the purse for the police. He immediately set about doing things like making big announcements around a war on drugs right after marijuana was legalized targeting the heroine “epidemic” a scare term not reflecting objective analysis. His crime reports to the neighborhood associations make the mundane minor offenses that have always happened seem like a crime wave. Today this town is safe. It is extremely safe. It is annoyingly obnoxiously safe. It is scary white people who love malls safe. I know most of you all have never lived in a big city so just take my word for it, you live in a bubble of extreme safety of the likes that really no one should be entitled to feel. You will have to think about that.
And he used classic broken windows policing tactics. He targeted youth and homeless focusing on minor problems to drum up fear. Targeting the scapegoats of the city he focused on attacking homeless, with new rules and more harassment. But what did all this really do for the city? Well I would argue not much good and a whole lot bad. The only real positive has been for Chief Roberts, increasing the size of the police department by getting a tax increase past the voters his second year in office. With the Downtown Ambassador program he also got more boots on the street doing psuedo police work. His bloated office consumes, most people don’t realize, a third of the city budget on police and jails.
The City Council should use the power of the purse to remove the excess from the bloated OPD which will help to incentivize less work on public appearances and more on actual real policing. It might help for them to realize that attempted shoplifting for example is no four alarm fire requiring intensive prowling of the area and multiple patrol assignments. If the OPD has that much police personnel to waste on such an issue than it has too much personnel. The City Council’s job is to thoroughly check and hold accountable Chief Roberts, not be his buddy.
Roberts’ decisions in the type of policing he prefers lead to Scott Yoos’ arrest by four cops that were bullying him because they thought he may have been dumpster diving. It’s a broken windows sort of policing and it makes so little sense outside of NYC where it was developed. This city needs a police department that is better than that and chooses that respecting civil liberties and creating a better society means not going after and making more difficult the lives of the most vulnerable.