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  • Three Seattle police officers suspended over use of 'gutter language'

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/htm...fanity25m.html

    By Steve Miletich
    Seattle Times staff reporter

    In another sign that he expects professional behavior, Seattle Police Chief John Diaz has imposed harsh suspensions on three East Precinct officers over their use of "gutter language" during a traffic stop of two suspected gang members last year, according to records disclosed Tuesday.

    The chief's discipline — 20 days off without pay for two of the officers and 15 for the other — drew a tempered response from Sgt. Rich O'Neill, president of the Seattle Police Officers' Guild, who said that though the suspensions might be too severe the officers should not have used the language.

    "The chief has said he is not tolerating profanity," he said Tuesday, and is trying to "send a message" that such language is unacceptable unless there is a good reason.

    The officers have filed appeals through an arbitration process, but only to reduce discipline that was tantamount to "life in prison for shoplifting" and not to overturn it, O'Neill said.

    O'Neill's remarks represent a continuing shift from combative words he has exchanged with city officials over a series of high-profile incidents that prompted the U.S. Department of Justice to open an investigation in March into the police department's use of force and treatment of minorities.

    Amid the scrutiny, Diaz has said that he expects his officers to act professionally in every contact with citizens — an expectation that apparently played a significant role in his decision, after an internal investigation, to suspend the three officers last month for using "demeaning" and "very unprofessional" language.

    The department released records on the case Tuesday in response to a public-disclosure request.

    Diaz and a department spokesman declined to comment because of the pending appeals.

    The traffic stop occurred on March 11, 2010, but a complaint by a public-defender agency wasn't filed until five months later.

    A verbal exchange between the officers and two men was captured on patrol-car video, although the video was not released on the grounds that it was still the subject of legal proceedings.

    The three officers — Corey Williams, 30; Brett Schoenberg, 26; and Casey Steiger, 27 — confronted the men during a reckless-driving stop. A fourth officer was also involved but wasn't disciplined because he didn't use the same harsh language.

    The driver, who was arrested, and the passenger, who was released, were identified by police as MS-13 gang members, under supervision by the state Department of Corrections.

    During the stop, the two men used profanity while talking of hurting and fighting with the officers, saying they deserved to be killed, according to the records.

    In their statements to internal investigators, Williams, Schoenberg and Steiger defended their decision to use strong words as a means to get the attention of the men and avoid using force.


    But the language was found to be unacceptable by Lt. Mark Kuehn of the department's Office of Professional Accountability.

    In his findings, Kuehn wrote that even though the language was "addressed to profanity-using gang members," the officers' phrases "lacked professionalism and served no useful purpose — contrary to the officers' assertions that they assisted in de-escalating the situation." He deemed the officers' words "gutter language."

    "Police officers are held to a higher standard than the general public and gang members," Kuehn wrote in an April 7 memorandum. "It seems professional officers should be able to accomplish their mission and make their point in most situations without resorting to gutter language and without lowering themselves to another's level."

    Steiger drew a shorter suspension because his profanity was deemed to be less prolific. All three officers have served their suspensions.

    O'Neill, the union president, said while the officers' language was somewhat understandable — "It was not like they were talking to grandma at the bus stop" — they should not have used it.

    Diaz has made it known profanity should be used only for a tactical need to gain compliance, O'Neill said. But O'Neill believes the discipline will be reduced on appeal.

    O'Neill's comments follow his conciliatory tone after Diaz's recent decision to suspend for 30 days, but not fire, Officer Shandy Cobane for threatening to beat the "Mexican ****" out of a Latino man during a robbery investigation last year.

    In that case, O'Neill accepted Diaz's edict that officers would face firing in the future for using racially and ethnically offensive language.




    While I agree that "gutter language" is hardly professional, most of us, if not all, have used it at one time or another while on duty. I think giving those Officers a written warning, or maybe at most, one day off without pay would be sufficient enough to "send a message". But 20 days off with no pay seems outrageous to me.
    Last edited by Street_Cop50; 05-25-2011, 08:30 AM.
    Look sharp, act sharp, be sharp.

  • #2
    20 days without pay for putting at MS-13 gangsters in check???????

    I find it hard to believe this police chief got his position by rising up through the ranks. That's bulls.hit.
    John Q. Citizen

    They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

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    • #3
      This is hard to comprehend.

      It is sometimes necessary to use "gutter language" to get through to some people -- especially gang members who seem to consider it normal speech.
      Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
      Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Street_Cop50 View Post
        http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/htm...fanity25m.html

        "Police officers are held to a higher standard than the general public and gang members," Kuehn wrote in an April 7 memorandum. "It seems professional officers should be able to accomplish their mission and make their point in most situations without resorting to gutter language and without lowering themselves to another's level."
        Yes. It would "seem" that way for those who don't deal with these derelicts on a daily basis. Always easier said than done. Technically, LEOs should keep themselves above the fray and refrain from lowering themselves to the level of the d-bags they interact with but realistically, sometimes getting low & slow language-wise is the only communication that gets through.

        I suppose when such a complaint is filed and substantiated, some form of discipline needs to be enforced but in this case, the punishment "seems" way too harsh. Bowing to outside pressure I'm sure. Sign of the times. Glad I'm old and getting out fairly soon.
        sigpic
        Our houses are protected by the good Lord and a gun.
        And you might meet 'em both if you show up here not welcome son.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by DAL View Post
          This is hard to comprehend.

          It is sometimes necessary to use "gutter language" to get through to some people -- especially gang members who seem to consider it normal speech.
          +1.

          To quote the great George S. Patton: "When I want my men to remember something important, to really make it stick, I give it to them double dirty. It may not sound nice to some bunch of little old ladies at an afternoon tea party, but it helps my soldiers to remember. You can't run an army without profanity; and it has to be eloquent profanity. An army without profanity couldn't fight its way out of a ****-soaked paper bag."

          The same holds true to police work. When you want a dirt bag to remember something, sometimes you have to make it double dirty.
          Originally posted by kontemplerande
          Without Germany, you would not have won World War 2.

          Comment


          • #6
            They'd have to s**t can my whole department. We give it back to em just like we get it and worse. If you talk to em like church ladies you're gonna get hurt.

            Comment


            • #7
              Truthfully , I can see the Chief's point if he is trying to get a "run away department" under check . (I AM NOT SAYING THIS IS TRUE) Banging a couple people hard (in the beginning) many times make the rest of the department think twice before they act.


              All that being said----------------his heavy hand is just that ----a bit heavy and would be overturned by most arbitrators I have ever been involved with.

              The arbitrator really won't care about how sometimes a cop needs to talk in language that will be clearly understood. They will just see that 30 day suspension is unreasonable for cussing. I see a reprimand.
              Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

              My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

              Comment


              • #8
                These f#%@ing admin coc$u%^$ probably have not been on the motherf^%$ing streets in years.
                What's wrong with some colorful Fu$^ing %$#&^%$%$# words that %$#^%% get %$##^&88wq anyway.
                $*?#@ and &*^!<( is the problem so &^%$ them! Go ^&%#@ and see if &^&^% and %#@+ even care!!

                //Just F&^%ing Sayin'
                SUPPORT COP RUN BUSINESSES!!
                SUPPORT LEO BUSINESSES!



                In 2017, the sales of my LEO related decals allowed me to donate over $350. to LE/ Military related charities... THANK YOU!!! Check them out HERE...

                Comment


                • #9
                  ^Pretty sure a Chief of Police has spent plenty of time on the street... However, once in the position of CoP, it's all a politics game.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I hope that there are jailhouse tapes of the gangsters talking to each other.
                    Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                    Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Inasmuch as all of our citizen contacts at one of the depts I work for are recorded, I have discussed this issue with supervisors at various levels, and they have no problem with tailoring our speech to that of our clientele.
                      Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                      Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Almost 3 whole weeks of suspension for cussing to some gangsters, that's ridiculous. Don't cops usually have a write-up system, where so many complaints will add up to a suspension of a day or two?

                        This PC crap is one of many things that are ruining our country.

                        Here's the future in Seattle... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dz4HEEiJuGo

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MagnumForce View Post
                          This PC crap is one of many things that are ruining our country.
                          I'm glad I don't work in Seattle.
                          I make my living on Irish welfare.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I learned many years ago that sometimes you have to step in the gutter and speak gutter talk as that is the only way some people will understand you.....
                            Retired LASD

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                            • #15
                              Seattle is the wierdest place on earth.

                              The cops there are forced into a constant state of kissing smelly hippie *** as the entire unwashed city is essentially a head shop with a starbucks in it.

                              I lives in Tacoma for 5 years and every time I went up to hang out with guys who were seattle cops they described the worst morale I have ever imagined at a Dept.

                              They do however get paid enough to keep doing it.

                              M-11
                              “All men dream...... But not equally..
                              Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it is vanity;
                              but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men,
                              for they act their dreams with open eyes to make it possible.....”

                              TE Lawrence

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