DOJ Jolt: Winners & Losers

Today’s winners and losers in the DOJ investigation of SPD:

Winner: The Seattle Police Officers Guild

You’d think the police guild would’ve gone into hiding after the DOJ released its brutal report on officer misconduct and cultural problems at SPD. But the truth is, DOJ’s probe—and any court-mandated changes to how the department operates—could turn out to be a big point of leverage for the guild.

Before the DOJ had even finished its press conference this morning, SPOG President Rich O’Neill had fired off a statement to reporters, hinting at how the guild could turn SPD’s public relations nightmare into a gold mine as the city and guild work out a new contract for officers.

If the city intends to adopt any changes that affect the working conditions of the officers,” O’Neill wrote, “then we look forward to discussing those at the bargaining table.

It’s not yet clear what the DOJ will ask SPD to do fix what they say is a “broken” department, but those fixes could end up costing the city in the bargaining process.

Winner: James Bible

After beating the same drum through two police administrations—slamming the department for biased policing and calling for resignations at the top of SPD—without offering up many tangible solutions, NAACP President James Bible’s message had become a bit stale.

Now, the DOJ’s damning probe of SPD seems to confirm much of what Bible has been saying for years: there’s a top-down problem in SPD, which is in need of cultural change.

Loser: Seattle

Lefty Seattle now has the dubious distinction joining New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Chicago on the list of cities with”corrupt” police departments. Whether it’s legit or not, it’s not good company to be in.

Winner: Bruce Harrell

As Seattle’s only non-white city council member,  Harrell connected with the public during last year’s outrage over the SPD shooting death of John T. Williams, finding his voice as an up-and-coming leader for police accountability.

With his straightforward idea for body cameras on cops and his new position as chair of the public safety committee, Harrell, a sleeper candidate for mayor in 2013, may find himself in the political limelight.