The Seattle Office of Police Accountability (OPA) recently released a report on the termination of a police officer last November. According to the OPA report, the officer engaged in “malicious and threatening” behavior on social media. Many of these threats were directed towards former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The subject matter of many of the posts concerned immigration, specifically targeting those who may enter the country unlawfully and individuals and groups the officer felt were supporting such acts. The OPA report emphasized that the reasoning for recommending the termination was not related to his political leanings, but over concerns he might engage in biased policing.
Concerns Over Biased Policing
The OPA report concerning the termination stresses that an officer is free to hold political views that may be out of line with those possessed by the majority of the community members and political figures. However, based on the tone and level of anger contained in the officer's social media postings, the panel questioned whether the officer was "so averse to ‘illegal immigration' that he may be unable to provide law enforcement services equitably and completely to an undocumented individual."
The report also notes that this is not the only concern regarding the police officer. He was also arrested for drunk driving in 2018, a charge to which he pleaded not guilty, with a trial date set for next month.
Seattle Bias-Free Policing Policy
The Seattle Police Department has instituted a Bias-Free Policing Policy that states: "The Seattle Police Department is committed to providing services and enforcing laws in a professional, nondiscriminatory, fair, and equitable manner. The Department recognizes that bias can occur at both an individual and an institutional level and is committed to eradicating both. Our objective is to provide equitable police services based upon the needs of the people we encounter."
The policy defines "bias-based policing" as the different treatment of any person by officers motivated by any characteristic of protected classes under state, federal, and local laws as well as other discernible personal characteristics of an individual. "Discernible personal characteristics," under the policy, include age, disability status, economic status, familial status, gender, gender identity, homelessness, mental illness, national origin, political ideology, religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, or color.
Seattle Criminal Defense Attorney
Bias in policing is an incredibly contentious issue. What we see with this case is that even in a police department that strives to achieve bias-free policing, an officer can still make his or her way onto a force while holding beliefs which might impair policing ability or judgment. If you are facing criminal charges, it is important to have an attorney willing to investigate all the circumstances surrounding your arrest to ensure that bias, or any other unwarranted or unconstitutional factors, played a part. If you are facing criminal charges, contact our office at 206-621-8777 or reach out online.