Posted by: endithinks | February 17, 2011

A Prosecution Deferred

The police are out in force tonight at Westlake.  They have three separate units forming an enclosing triangle around the gathering of protestors gathered to honor the memory of slain local wood carver John T. Williams.  The rally was organized after the announcement that the King County Prosecutor has declined to pursue any criminal charges against Officer Birk after the shooting and killing of a half deaf artisan walking down the street.

The police have horse units and I’ve spotted six patrol cars and close to twenty or so officers all standing guard against a potential situation.  the latest crisis in Seattle policing is the complete and utter lack of faith surrounding the SPD(Seattle Police Department) after the shooting of John T. Williams, but it is a flare up of a larger incessant infection.

News Media at the rally scramble to keep up with protestor's movements

Police policy in Seattle is flawed to its core and until the structural policies and procedures are completely broken down and rebuilt from the ground up under new leadership, these sort of killings and injustices will continue as they have throughout Seattle history.

The crowd is behaving itself in front of the news vans and media attention.  The crowd chants in response to a megaphone brandishing would be rabble rouser, but the feeling pervading all these gatherings (and theer have been nearly a dozen since the man was gunned down) is alienation and hopelessness.

the fact that the King County Prosecutor has chosen not to pursue any criminal or civil charges against the rookie officer has tinged the air with a frightful tension as members of the community are once again reminded that in the eyes of the SPD and “alarming gesture” such as turning around to look at who was screaming at you, is enough to forfeit your life.  When a man is gunned down in less than four seconds due to a snap judgement of another person that lacks the experience and calm emotional state needed for any type of community work, one needs to ask what else can be done to us with no consequence?  If life is meaningless in the eyes of the King County Prosecutor if a man in a blue suit decides in less than four seconds to end it, then what does the concept of justice even mean?

Many of the protestors are across the street in their familiar haunts as the homeless teens and adults engage in conversations with passersby not asking for change, but gauging the sense of shock  the police have drilled into our minds.  The ones who are underserved and on the edge of society feel that alienation and disconnection and abuse on a daily basis.  They see the way most people treat them and they take this opportunity to talk to those who would on normal days pretend they didn’t exist.  The teens are especially interesting to watch them speaking to adults as equals without a need presented as their main reason for contact.

The crowd begins to start marching down Pine Street heading towards second and the police mobilize to follow them.  Some of the signs of the crowd include: “Arrest Birk,” “Fire Birk,” “Corruption: with pictures of Mayor McGinn, Chief Diaz and Officer Birk,” “SPD can’t police themselves,” and “Act like the Egyptians.”

SPD has a long history of clashes with the public especially with minorities.  The tensions are always taut and the SPD has not done enough to combat the growing sense of enmity between those sworn to serve and protect and those who are being shot.

Truth be told police have had a rough time at it these last two years with numerous police officers being murdered at the hands of monsters who were self claimed enemy combatants, but were really disgusting domestic terrorists.  The police have been firebombed, shot at and reviled and it is perfectly natural that they would respond with more aggressive training that emphasises threat recognition and neutralization.  The problem lies in the paranoia, fear and readily available lethal instruments.

The police department and the city government has failed in three major areas in regards to police engagement and safety: lack of follow through of safety policy by too many individual policemen,  too much emphasis on violence or force as the go to solution, and illogical hiring and retention practices.

Too many times when I see a police officer I see them alone.  They are on patrol more often than not as a solo officer.  This is unfortunate in numerous ways, but the most dangerous is the fact that the isolation that comes from being a police officer in the first place is heightened when you are by yourself and are taught to view civilians as hostile.  The police too often do not follow their policy of calling for backup when in a situation that could turn violent if they engage.  The fact that officers are confronting situations alone is a major policy failure and the budgetary arguments are moot when compared to the loss of an innocent life that can never be replaced.  Money is being printed everyday.  A human life if unique and cannot be priced out.

Secondly, the police are trained too intensely in violent techniques and lethal force.  The police use force at a level that civilians would be institutionalized for.  We’ve seen police punch, push, shove, hit, and shoot people who could have been easily deescalated with simple solutions or words.  The fact that moving away from a police officer is considered suspicious is pathetic and digs into the subtext of the problems, an overinflated ego.  Police see themselves as holding society together and it is this arrogance that breeds “heroic” actions of lone police officers who feel they are above the law.  Police do not hold together society, society holds itself together through agreed upon behaviours and expectations followed in the social contract.  Police are part of the solution, not the solution itself.

Violence is corrupting and those that inflict pain on others even if justified inevitably take damage themselves mentally as harming a fellow member of your own species goes against our genetic programming.  Humans are social creatures that are interconnected to each other in so many ways we could not survive without the aid of others.  To harm a fellow person takes a certain mindset and a certain amount of mental fortitude.  That fortitude is eroded and broken per violent action and without proper training and counseling it can lead to a warped mind that begins to enjoy that violence.

The third major problem with police policy is a simple Human Resources problem.  Police are being hired when they should not be.  Police are excepting as officers people who have been turned down by other force welding entities such as the military and even worse the police are not firing those that have no pace being police after they cross the line into unlawful behavior.  Instead of weeding out the undesirables the SPD seems to favor reassignment and closing ranks instead of cutting the wheat from the chaff.

We can see too many examples of police shifting problematic officers from precinct to precinct, parish to parish, district to district.  The officers are not held accountable for failing their positions and when failure means a senseless killing of a person not breaking any law that price is too damn high.

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