Shapiro: federal regulations ruining Seattle police

By Neal McNamara | June 18, 2014

Dashcam video of Seattle police shooting of John T. Williams

The shooting of woodcarver John T. Williams was one incident that incited the federal government to intervene in the Seattle police department. This video shows the moments before officer Ian Birk shot Williams, who was crossing a street holding a woodcarving knife. 

The federal government proxy in charge of monitoring the Seattle police department has filed his latest report on the department, which had host Ben Shapiro wondering if federal oversight of the department is weakening its officers and endangering public safety.

Merrick Bobb is the man the U.S. Justice Department appointed – supposedly as an independent monitor – to watch over Seattle police. He regularly files updates on how the department is handling a federal Consent Decree mandating reforms to make the department kinder and gentler.

“The Obama Department of Justice decided [Seattle police] were racially discriminatory and brutal over here in the city of Seattle, based on little evidence,” Shapiro said, explaining the federal crackdown on Seattle police.

Bobb’s latest report states that Seattle police have made improvements in areas like use of excessive force, biased policing, street encounters, and contacts with mentally-ill individuals. But the department is still broken, Bobb deemed. The department must spend money to build a new computer system to track reforms and promote more police to the rank of sergeant, the report says.

And, the report says, police officers had better get on board with the changes quickly.

From the report: “… the Monitor has come to recognize that the internalization of the objectives and goals of the Consent Decree by the SPD will require a redoubling of additional, focused efforts.”

That’s where Shapiro disagrees – the point where civilian oversight of a police department goes from fair to overreaching. As evidence that that’s what’s happening at SPD, a group of more than 100 officers is suing the federal government over new mandated force policies.

“There is a point at which you’ve gone too far, where every shooting is considered suspicious,” Shapiro said.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray gets a lot of praise in Bobb’s report for implementing policies, which Shapiro said is to be expected because the DOJ’s politics align with Murray’s.

The mayor’s office gets a lot of praise from Merrick Bobb – no shock there. The federal government is very much to the left. The DOJ in particular is very much to the left,” Shapiro said. “I’m sure we’ll hear how great Mayor Murray is and then we’ll hear about gay marriage. That’s how it works, right?  It’s always those two things. Gay marriage and how great he mayor is.”

Shapiro related the federal mandates to the Monday shooting on Interstate 5 – where a state patrol officer shot a man who charged at him with a knife, moments after the man lit his truck on fire in the middle of the Ship Canal Bridge – predicting that even clearly justifiable shootings will be overly scrutinized, causing police officers to second guess protecting themselves, or using force to stop a crime.

“For the left, the onus is always on the cops,” Shapiro said. “Even folks on the left can’t defend [the shooting on I-5]. Assume for a moment this hadn’t been a clear case of someone attempting to do harm to others. The Seattle Stranger attacked SPD for shooting a guy who robbed a bank dressed as a woman and then proceeded to charge and off with a knife. They ripped on him.

“And this is what we’ve become. No wonder the police are on edge. No wonder they seem concerned about whether or not they’re going to lose their jobs for acting rationally.”

 

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