One Seattle Cop Wrote 80% of Public Toking Tickets
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole has reassigned an officer who reports show wrote almost four out of five of the 83 citations for public pot use since January. The biannual report on marijuana enforcement also showed that 36 percent of public toking tickets were written to African-Americans, who make up on 8 percent of Seattle’s population.
“In some instances, the officer added notes to the tickets. Some notes requested the attention of City Attorney Peter Holmes and were addressed to ‘Petey Holmes,’” Chief O’Toole writes. “In another instance, the officer indicated he flipped a coin when contemplating which subject to cite. In another note, the officer refers to Washington’s voter-enacted changes to marijuana laws as ‘silly.’”
Chief O’Toole has reported the officer to the Office of Professional Accountability and he will not be performing any patrol duties while under investigation.
Chief O’Toole is the former police commissioner of Boston whose selection as chief drew rave reviews from the Seattle Times editorial board. She served as chief inspector of the national police service of Northern Ireland after it was rocked by a major corruption scandal. Her selection as Seattle’s first female police chief (aside from the few days Seattle City Council president Bertha Landes served in 1924) signified the city’s willingness to place a successful reformer in charge of a police department still subject to federal monitoring under a settlement with the US Department of Justice.
That monitoring is due to a federal investigation filed in March 2011 over “an alleged pattern or practice of excessive force and discriminatory policing in SPD.” According to the surveys conducted by the federal monitor in September 2013, “Only 35% of people agree SPD treats people of all races equally” and only 25% believe “SPD treats homeless people the same as others.”
Almost 25% of Seattle residents report having some interaction with police in the past year, but that interaction is also heavily influenced by race. In traffic stops, Latinos have double the rate and African-Americans have triple the rate of police encounters than do white Seattleites. In non-traffic interactions, Latinos and African-Americans both experience almost triple the white rate of police encounters.
Regarding use of force, “45% of Seattleites say SPD uses excessive force very/somewhat often, including 70% of African-Americans and 62% of Latinos.” The report found African-Americans and Latinos were 10 times more likely to report verbal abuse by the police than whites and five times more likely to report police use of physical force (other than handcuffing) than did whites.
Looks like Chief O’Toole has her work cut out for her and we applaud her for removing the cannabigot cop from the streets.