Police Abuse

Albuquerque Police Union Supportive of Seattle Lawsuit Even Seattle Union Wouldn't Back


union boss

Yesterday I wrote about a risible lawsuit filed by about 100 cops in Seattle that claimed their constitutional rights to things like performing reasonable search and seizures were being threatened by a Department of Justice-mandated use of force policy they claimed made them afraid of doing their jobs. That policy, essentially, tells cops to use the least amount of coercive force needed and to attempt to de-escalate situations before introducing force. The policy also allows what cops did before using force to be taken into account in ruling whether that use of force was justified or not. As Seattle's mayor, one of the defendants in the lawsuit, noted, the new policy was implemented "because of a disturbing pattern of unnecessary use of force and other forms of unconstitutional policing." Police officers filed the lawsuit without the support of the union, which hopes the rules can be amended without a suit, or even a lawyer to represent them.

The lawsuit did find a sympathetic police union boss, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, whose police department, like Seattle's, is facing Department of Justice mandates after a review found probable cause of a pattern or practice of widespread abuse there. The president of the police union in Albuquerque appears to be supportive of the lawsuit, pointing to it as a sign of the DOJ-mandated use of force policy's failure. "It's important for Albuquerque to take the failures of this particular use of force policy and ensure that they don't happen here as we're going through this same process," Albuquerque Police Officers' Association President Shaun Wiloughby told KRQE. Willoughby also said he wanted the police union to be involved in the process of drafting new policies. Given the widespread misconduct by officers the union represents that's led to the DOJ review in the first place, that would be ill-advised. Unfortunately that probably means you can't rule out the DOJ doing that. After all, when announcing the findings of abuse in Albuquerque's police department, Acting Assistant General Jocelyn Samuels insisted it shouldn't reflect poorly on individual cops and that they should keep making sure they got home safe at the end of their shifts.