Posted by: endithinks | September 28, 2010

On a change in behaviour

This afternoon walking downtown to the city, I noticed something that normally would not register, well not register to the point of action.  Two police people were talking to two people sitting on an outcropping near the bus station.  When I say that I wouldn’t normally notice what I mean is that I would normally see the police move to the other side of the street, keep my hands out away from my pockets and my head held at a neutral please-don’t-shoot-me level.  This afternoon I did something I normally wouldn’t.  I stopped and watched.

I reached into my bag and removed my phone and set it up to record video.  I was on the other side of the street and just stopped leaning against a tree and watching the police interact with the two people who in my view had done nothing wrong.  I watched as the police asked for their identification and started calling the information in and I watched as the two people shook their heads, defeated.  I have no clue what they were stopped for, but I know that they were upset.

If you haven’t been paying attention, Seattle police have been in a public relations quagmire this last year.  The police have killed more civilians than in recent history and they have been subject to a public outcry the likes of which I haven’t seen since the poorly branded WTO riots.  There have been marches and protests and the major and chief of police have met the public displeasure with a stoic and apologetic tone to their credit.

But the thing that has been brought forth in my heart is fear.  Fear of the police when they are supposed to be a sign of comfort and civility.  I’ve seen the results of trigger happy rookies, in the closet racists and a public that has given the police carte blanche in dealing out pain and death.  I don’t see police in any other way than an entity to be feared and mistrusted.

I haven’t felt like this in a long time and it hurts to see the supposed sign of service twisted in my head.  The fact that their have been no repercussions besides paid administrative leave for a rookie that shot a man in cold blood who was not breaking any laws has made the entire scheme of trust in their authority a practice in delusion.  What we need is a new social contract that not only includes an entire new training regime, but also a new civilian controlled oversight process.

I’m actually in the process of writing up what I believe to be a potential training manual for police in Seattle.  I am focusing on the social side of the issues as I have no training or expertise in the more violent aspects of police work.  The training will be  a sign to civilians that the police take their responsibility as servants and protectors to heart and not just a thin uniform that they pull on and pull off with no committment.  The journey towards a police force that serves all its citizens is long and arduous, but we have to have the courage to take those first painful steps.



  1. This is deeply sad.

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