I took the risk of going to one of the roll outs of candidates Jacquelyn MacConnell and Bart Louge. It was worth the risk as Deb Conklin did allow me to ask more than one question and some follow-ups, of course she did have to kind of hold me back so some of the very few people in attendance could ask their questions.
I chose to go to the roll out at the ECCC for a number of reasons. First because the topic was supposed to be “Disproportionate minority contact” but there were only a couple of questions regarding that specific topic, and I did stay on topic until some folks opened up other topics. Also among the reasons was that East Central is my old “Hood”, and when SPD was actually involved in “Community Oriented Policing” I developed the concept of “Neighborhood Investigative Resource Officer”, so as a Detective for several years I investigated all the cases in that neighborhood from the theft of garbage can lids, all the way up to Murder. I was lucky enough to get to know the people of East Central and they got to know me. As a matter of fact, during that time I had an office all to myself in the ECCC and played the role of Santa Clause for the kids at Christmas for the ECCC Christmas parties.
Knowing the Hood, I wasn’t at all surprised at the very low turnout, I don’t even know if anyone from the East Central Community even attended. As far as minorities attending there were maybe two or three. But that is the way East Central is… they won’t bother as they feel they really don’t actually have a voice.
Mike Fagan was there for a while, but he was the only Council Member I noticed. So far I have been to two meetings where Mike Fagan was present, and in both meetings there were free cookies. I don’t know if the free cookies were a factor or not (Just kidding Mike). 🙂 🙂
Given all of the recent discussion on “Disproportionate minority contact”, and the “Sanctuary City Ordinance” I would have thought there would be more people and Council Members present. But that’s the way it goes. My question, and I did get to ask the first question again, dealt with the crux of issues surrounding both “Disproportionate minority contacts” and the “Sanctuary City Ordinance”. The question was concerning the candidate’s knowledge of the controlling cases and subsequent case law regarding Terry v Ohio both at the Federal and State level, something the Community doesn’t have an understanding of nor SPD based upon all of the cases I have reviewed recently. Jacquelyn MacConnell had the upper hand on that one, but only as far Federal Law is concerned and not Washington State’s more restrictive laws in that regard. I did provide both candidates with a link I prepared for them from the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys “CONFESSIONS, SEARCH, SEIZURE, AND ARREST A GUIDE FOR POLICE OFFICERS AND PROSECUTORS MAY 2015 MANUAL” It would be a good read for a lot of people including SPD Cops.
It is really important for the OPO to know this stuff, and especially since the OPO reviews Body Camera footage of Terry v Ohio contacts by SPD.
SO WHAT WAS MY IMPRESSION OF THE CANDIDATES?
*** Not that it really matters of course but here you go.
Keep in mind that my contact with them and my ability to interview them was limited, but my initial impression is that either one would be a very good candidate. As a matter of fact, the OPOC should consider finding a way to hire both as it appears to me they would complement each other and hopefully someday the OPO will actually have some powers. Don’t hold your breath though!
You might wonder why I say hiring both would be good if the OPO doesn’t have independent investigative powers. Because the OPO, as a result of the Union contracts, is primarily a PR position with most of the Ombudsperson’s time being spent getting face time with the Community it is difficult for one person to devote all of the time necessary to do a real quality job of the actual OPO work.
To be clear, I did tell Jacquelyn MacConnell that I would not hold it against her that she is of Scottish decent me being Irish and all. I will also not hold it against former Marine Bart Louge that he was unable to recite his 11th General Order. Some of the folks in attendance will understand what I’m talking about. Jacquelyn MacConnell grew up in a Marine Corps family but made it clear her father didn’t force her to memorize the General Orders… and that is a good thing.
Realistically some short sighted people will hold MacConnell’s law enforcement background against her, and hold Louge’s military background against him, that is just the way some folks think.
The important thing is whether they are ethical, honest, and willing to call BS when it is appropriate. One thing to remember is that Bart Louge during his stint in the Marine Corps was a leader of Men and Women Marines. But by the same token Jacquelyn MacConnell in her law enforcement career also was a leader of Men and Women Cops. Both of them should know the good, bad, and ugly that goes along with that responsibility. Ordinarily I would give the advantage in that area to MacConnell because Cops are far more legally protected in labor issues than any Marine ever has been or ever will be. However, Louge has been in the Interim OPO position long enough to realize that it ain’t like the Corps and Cops have one hell of a lot more protection and power than any Marine and Louge actually admitted that during the forum… so I have to call that one a push.
I considered Jacquelyn MacConnell as a little more matter of fact than Bart Logue in this setting, which is, from my perspective a good trait but she also has had considerable positive experience in community interaction as a cop. Bart Louge on the other hand came off to me as less matter of fact and more interactive which is also a good trait. Like I said I think they would complement each other if they were working together.
You always have to keep in mind that in forums like this the questions for the candidates from the public are always, for the most part, well intended softball questions that are easily answered. One of those questions was a reiteration of a question asked and answered in a previous forum. “Is there an us against them culture at SPD?” The obvious answer is “There sure as hell is!” which Louge answered truthfully and MacConnell, with the proper qualifier, said that she hasn’t worked here so she doesn’t know for sure, but wouldn’t be the least bit surprised that there is given her experience and what is going on in Communities throughout the Country. Hopefully at some point both candidates will be subjected to some real hardball questions.
I did ask a question of Bart Louge regarding pulling public access to all of the IA Cases off of the SPD Website even though the UOFC and COPS/DOJ touted it.
Bart Louge knew I already had the answer to my question from my Q & A with Meidl and Lundgren, but I asked the question to see if I could elicit from him some idea where the current SPD Leadership was headed with respect to transparency, and he did tip me off when he said he had looked at what Seattle does, and he was right, Seattle posts a short case synopsis with a link on how to get the entire file via a Public Records Request. So… look for it folks. What that means is that in all likelihood SPD will not be providing the public direct access to entire IA cases and if someone wants to read them and find out what is really there they will have to spend the time and money to do a PRR. That will cramp my style a bit but that’s okay, the problem is it will inhibit the average Citizen who wants the facts to go through the hassle of getting them.
My assessment, based on limited interaction is that either one would be a really good candidate, and both appear to be willing to dig in, learn, and call BS when necessary. Of course my opinion doesn’t matter it is up to the OPOC, but as you know I’m always willing to express my opinion… like it or not.