Reaping what you sow doesn't seem to be an operative metaphor in the law enforcement world. Years of excessive force and biased policing by the Seattle PD resulted in a Dept. of Justice investigation
. The final outcome was a series of reforms being ordered to address these issues
[pdf]. These reforms -- including a new use of force policy -- went into effect at the beginning of 2014. And probably not a minute too late. 2013 saw the Seattle police officers performing 20% of the city's homicides (6 out of 29 total)
But some officers on the force seem to prefer excessive force and discriminatory policing. The Oregonian reports that a group of Seattle police officers has set up a crowdfunding campaign
to finance its legal battle against these reforms, which they say "violate" their "rights." (via Techdirt reader hoare
A Seattle police officer suing to block new use-of-force policies has set up an Internet fundraising page to help pay for the legal fight, calling the federally mandated reforms "the greatest threat to the city's public safety in our time."
Robert Mahoney, the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit brought by 113 officers, created the crowdfunding page Saturday on the website GoFundMe.
The manifesto delivered there is impressive in its assertion of nonexistent rights and misrepresentation of the dangers Seattle cops face
We would prefer to just be doing our jobs rather than having to also wage a legal battle for our rights. However, as well as being public servants, we are also fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors. We have the right and the duty to go home at the end of each watch. Requiring us to take unnecessary risks that will inevitably prevent this is not only unreasonable, it is immoral.
No one has the "right" to make it through work safely. There are plenty of safeguards in place in hopes of assuring this happens, but it's a stretch to say that anyone has the "right" (guaranteed by what?) to not die while on the clock. To be sure, wrongful death suits can arise out of workplace-related deaths, but this is a civil remedy that deals mainly with employer negligence, not the normal, known hazards of the work environment. If you don't want to face these known risks, then your best bet is to find alernate employment.
The crowdfunding page tries to turn a statement by the Supreme Court dealing with self-defense into a "right" to live through a shift.
The Supreme Court has long acknowledged that self-defense is a natural individual right possessed by every citizen, regardless of profession, i.e. "the rules which determine what is self-defense are of universal application, and are not affected by the character [of a person's] employment."
Even if self-defense is a right, staying alive until the end of the shift is not. The government has never portrayed police work -- or any other dangerous work -- as subject to a right to remain alive. What these officers are doing here is turning self-defense into something much more proactive than it really is. It's a defensive
method ties to justified
force, not a blank check for excessive/deadly force. These cops seem to believe in preemptive self-defense, which helps explain why the Seattle PD was responsible for 20% of homicides last year
This fact points to uglier truth: do these Seattle cops believe only the police
have a "right" to make it home safely? Is that only guaranteed for some people? Because six people didn't "make it home safely" in 2013 as a direct result of police force. And yet, all we're seeing here is an argument that because police work is inherently dangerous, there should be nothing standing between a police officer and a safe return home -- even if it means "violating" other people's "right" to self-defense/make it home alive. This statement pushes for everyone to make the assumption that at all times,
it is civilians who are the aggressors. Fighting back -- even in self-defense -- isn't really an option for civilians. That behavior tends to make members of the public more bruised/bleeding/dead.
Further "justification" for the removal of DOJ-ordered remedies takes the form of phrases delivered without citing any evidence whatsoever.
Being a cop has never been more complicated, unpredictable, and dangerous. We work in a city, like many American cities, faced with increasing criminal violence…
Being a cop is actually safer than it's been in over 50 years
. Police have access to a greater variety of offensive and defensive options than they've ever had. The assertion that Seattle is "facing increasing criminal violence" is just plain wrong. Crime rates nationally have been in a steady decline since the late 1980s. Seattle is no exception. Its crime rate is now half of what it was in 1985
The statement leans heavily on depicting self-defense as a Constitutionally-guaranteed right to deploy whatever amount of force the officer
deems necessary when faced with a potentially dangerous situation. The Constitution does not
guarantee an "any means necessary" approach to threats -- not for police officers and not for members of the public.
Officers will find themselves in more dangerous situations than most members of the public, but they also have Kevlar vests, openly-carried weapons, Tasers, nightsticks, etc. on hand at all times. What these officers want to do is roll things back to the days when they could go hard on certain ethnicities and dole out excessive force as they saw fit. And now they want the public
to help fund a fight for worse policing -- the same public that's on the hook for every settlement handed out to excessive force victims, as well as paying for any legal action the city of Seattle takes in response. That's beyond tone-deaf. That's audaciousness bordering on sociopathy.