More Police Professionalism for Justice Scalia


The Seattle Post-Intelligencer investigated police complaints filed in the city and found that they aren't taken all that seriously.

The Seattle Police Department hasn't disciplined any officers for unnecessary force in the past 18 months, during a time when it ruled on at least 161 force cases. During that same period, 12 other excessive-force complaints resulted in supervisory intervention with officers.

The last batch of sustained force cases occurred in the first few months of 2006, when three cases dating from 2004 and 2005 resulted in discipline, including a suspension, a suspension that was held in abeyance for good behavior and two reprimands.

The department takes disciplinary action in about 1 percent of cases where a complaint of unnecessary force is made. It sustains other allegations about 10 percent of the time, records show. Other types of complaints include abuse of authority, false arrest and discourtesy.

The article cites one plaintiff's attorney in brutality cases who says the higher percentage of non-excessive force cases are upheld because they rarely result in significant discipline for the officer or liability for the city.

The investigation was spurred by a recent police brutality incident in which the city paid $185,000 to the victim, then promoted the officer in question to lieutenant.

A study in Chicago showed similar disinterest in complaints against the city's police, even when it comes to police shootings.