Police Officer Rails Against City’s Anti-Bias Initiatives

Lynn Thompson, Seattle Times, January 22, 2011

A Seattle police officer, writing in his union newspaper, disparages the anti-bias training the city employees are required to take, and calls city leaders a “quaint socialist cabal.”

Under the headline, “Just Shut Up and Be a Good Little Socialist,” Officer Steve Pomper calls the city’s 5-year-old Race and Social Justice Initiative an attack on American values and calls its supporters “the enemy.”

He expresses contempt for a “Perspectives in Profiling” class that department members were required to take last year to raise awareness about racial profiling, and he questions at what point he and other officers should say “Hell no!” to the city’s attempts to “indoctrinate SPD in social justice culture.”

The column, appearing in the December issue of The Guardian, is renewing concerns about the culture of the police department and officers’ willingness to address racial bias.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said the officer’s apparent hostility to the city’s anti-bias efforts adds to public concerns over a series of highly publicized incidents in which officers are accused of using excessive force against minorities.

“The question is a serious one. How widely or deeply held are these views? How do we make sure that anyone in city government reflects the values of not discriminating against people? Even one officer holding these views is not appropriate,” McGinn said by phone last week from Washington, D.C., where he attended a meeting of The United States Conference of Mayors.

{snip} Sgt. Rich O’Neill, president of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild . . . defended his members’ right to say whatever they want in the publication.

{snip}

McGinn said his office is in “active discussion” with the U.S. Department of Justice over calls by the ACLU and 34 other organizations in December to investigate “patterns and practices” of Seattle police officers’ confrontations with people of color.

{snip}

The comments are “not consistent with the values of the police department or the rules of behavior the department sets for our officers,” Burgess [city councilman Tim Burgess] said.

{snip}

Additionally, more than 8,000 employees have taken a class based on a three-part PBS series “Race: The Power of an Illusion.”

In 2008, the office conducted a survey of city-employee attitudes toward the initiative. About 30 percent of city employees responded, but just 9 percent of the police department, Harris said. He said that while more than 80 percent of all respondents said the program was important to their work, the responses weren’t broken down by department.

{snip}

Pomper joined the Seattle force in 1992, and he has written regularly for The Guardian.

In 2009, he earned $96,696, according to city records. He has his own website, with a picture of him on a motorcycle and a headline that identifies him as “Author/Libertarian/Cop.” He blogs regularly about police and political issues from his home in Brier, Snohomish County.

{snip}

[The complete text of “Just Shut Up and Be a Good Little Socialist,” is available here.]

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