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Police Training Really More About Saving Their Jobs
Articles describing the “bystander training” EPD will be taking talk more about how cops can save their jobs than the moral and material ramifications of using excessive force on innocent people.
Welcome back to Local Crank. Meetings this week—
Boeing’s Consolidation of 787 to South Carolina Solicits Weak Condemnation from Local Leadership
In the wake of Boeing’s decision to consolidate 787 production to union-busting South Carolina, our locals leaders don’t have much to say. This deep betrayal to our community’s workers perpetrated by Boeing will devastate thousands of lives only to enrich a select few. Our representative in Congress—and recipient of $78,000 from Boeing—Rick Larsen could not muster more than saying the decision by the multibillion dollar aerospace conglomerate was “misplaced”. “I will fight to bring 787 production back to Everett,” said Rick in an boilerplate statement. How exactly he intends to that, well, hasn’t been explained. The weak response isn’t entirely surprising considering that Rick himself also committed a betrayal against labor by pushing for Boeing’s machinists to vote for the 2014 contract that gutted their pension.
Likewise, Mayor Franklin offered her own standard-fare response, but unlike Rick she did explain a little about what she intends to do about it. She says that Everett is “collaborating” with Everett Community College, WSU Everett, Workforce Snohomish, and the Northwest Innovation Resource Center to “tap into the skills” of the laid-off workers. Whatever that means.
She also said that her administration will be introducing “new regulations to attract remote workers and home-based business owners”. There are no details provided in the statement about what that would look like, but I’m sure we can expect more to be said about this in the coming months. We’ll need to pay close attention to what exactly this means to better understand whether incentives like liability protections, labor exemptions, or tax breaks are offered.
Organized labor, on the other hand, struck a much different tone. “Boeing can’t stand the idea that those who design and build the aircraft, who are the heart and soul of the manufacturing process, have rights,” said IAM 751 in an October 1st statement, “Boeing doesn’t respect that our members have the ability to stand up, voice concerns and attempt course correction of poor management decisions to protect the integrity of the airplanes and the industry”.
Boeing, in all likelihood, will not be reversing their decision. This profit-over-people agenda from the millionaire executives at Boeing will seriously endanger thousands of their workers lives. Amid unprecedented increases in unemployment and evictions, there is no doubt that this decision will leave many victims in its wake. I wish I could say that I’d expect the City of Everett to step up, but considering that they have not provided CARES Act money directly to residents (unlike Lynnwood and Edmonds), I don’t see how the mayor will do anything that’ll materially benefit Boeing’s working class.
EPOA’s “Bystander Training” is Really About not Getting Fired
First, a quick update
Last week, the Everett Police Officers Association launched an all-out harassment campaign against Democratic Snohomish County councilmember Megan Dunn over a post she shared to her personal Facebook page. Within a matter of days, the story was picked up by multiple media outlets and even had a TV segment produced for it on KING 5. On social media, boosts from far-right commentators like Jason Rantz and fascist collaborator Andy Ngo spread the story to the depths of the violent right-wing echo chamber.
EPOA central demand was for Dunn to resign, and if she failed to they threatened to organize a recall effort. Dunn later apologized to Collier saying in a statement that the post was a “reminder to continue to strive for systemic reforms”. The cops reluctantly accepted her apology and rescinded their demand for resignation, however another group called the Concerned Taxpayers of Snohomish County has kept the demand going. Last week, the group hosted a Zoom meeting about organizing a recall effort and although it doesn’t appear that anything had advanced beyond that stage, the continued focus of Dunn suggests that this may remain a low-level opposition effort for some time.
While coverage of this incident has fizzled down, Everett’s cops are keeping the sympathetic news cycle going with the announcement of new “bystander training”. This training, called the Active Bystander for Law Enforcement program, is hosted by Georgetown University and is designed to “[create] a police culture in which officers routinely intervene as necessary to prevent misconduct, avoid police mistakes, and promote officer health and wellness”.
The training is based upon program called EPIC (Ethical Policing Is Courageous) that was organized at the New Orleans Police Department in 2014 following a federal consent decree. However, instead of focusing on the moral implications of excessive force, the training asks cops to reconsider their actions out of fear of losing their jobs.
In an 2016 article from Subject to Debate, a newsletter from the Police Executive Research Forum, Jonathan Aronie writes under the headline “A Look at NOPD’s Innovative and Career-Saving Peer Intervention Program”.
“Considering the [verbal] abuse he was taking [from the detainee], even the officer who punched the detainee probably would not have lost his job,” said the Monitoring Team Lead for NOPD’s consent decree, “The whole incident was very frustrating—from the excessive use of force, to the bad decision-making, to the unnecessary cessation of five promising careers”.
Jacob Lundy, EPIC Program Director, said classes teach “that if a fellow officer is using excessive force or doing something illegal, they really cannot be subtle about intervening, and it will require immediate action”. However, if officers believe that the problem is either a personal matter or simply a “minor courtesy/professionalism” issue, that they should instead “take some time and think about the best approach”. A big problem with that is cops believe that their conduct is legal and that examples of excessive force aren’t problems with professionalism but rather invited by the victim. Everett’s cops have basically said as much, dismissing the protests legitimacy and using language like “rioters” to describe peaceful protest participants.
So, did it work?
Well, the cops certainly got to keep their jobs but predictably, criminal activity and excessive force issues still persisted among their ranks. From employing cops that should have been fired, to gassing its residents, to firing rubber bullets at people after denying for five days they did it, the New Orleans Police Department continued with business as usual. Rather than reckoning with how their conduct can severely erode public trust and cause great harm, EPIC’s message was clear: make sure not to lose your job.
Nevertheless, Mayor Cassie Franklin got right to work using the ABLE Project to justify bolstering the Everett Police Department. “Everett has one of the most progressive, innovative police departments in the country,” Franklin said, “Our proposed budget includes funding for police officer training”. The mayor described the project’s intent to “create a culture in law enforcement that supports and ensures peer intervention,” a line that was repeated by the televised coverage of EPD’s participation in ABLE from KING 5. (the same reporter that covered EPOA’s attack on Megan Dunn, by the way)
Without any indication of how performance will be measured to evaluate ABLE’s effectiveness, we’re left to make our own conclusions for what EPD is expecting to gain. Therefore, I suspect that an objective for EPD participating in the program is to leverage it to generate good press, deflect potential scrutiny, and dismiss demands for more substantive police reforms.
One way to get an idea of what they expect to learn from this program would be examining the four required letters submitted during ABLE’s application process. Two of these letters will be from “community organizations”, one from the leader of the agency (chief), and one from a “leader of the jurisdiction in which the agency is based” (mayor, city manager, etc.). To dig into this further, I’ve filed a public records request with the City of Everett to obtain these letters.
Regardless of what is found in those letters, I have no doubts that we can expect to see a continuation of escalating rhetoric from EPOA. Their demonization and dismissal of protestors will only serve as a backdrop to the violence they will encounter in the future from cop supporters.
Key Argument of Anti-housing Activists Shot Down
Last week, the Everett City Council had their first chance to review the revised plans for Housing Hope’s Sequoia Norton Site supportive housing development. While the public comment did not feature a litany of housing opponents, one their talking points did get addressed by the council. “Tell me a little bit about the precedence setting that can occur if we were to eliminate the historic overlay zone,” asked Councilmember Stonecipher, referencing a key talking point expressed by anti-housing activists.
“I think they’re all [considered] individually. I think it’s up to the council on whether it set a precedent,” replied Long Term Planning Manager David Stalheim, noting that the existing structures there already don’t conform to some of the zone’s historic characteristic requirements. A legal advisor to the council then chimed in, “As a legal matter, you action on this specific historical overlay does not set a precedent that binds you in the future”.
Whether this will deter anti-housing activists from continuing to push this line will remain to be seen. A public hearing on the ordinance that would help move Housing Hope’s plans into the next phases of review is scheduled for October 14th with a final vote a week later.
Everett Police Officers Association President says Protesting in the Street is Violent
On September 28th, Everett Police Officers Association president James Collier went on conservative talk radio host Jason Rantz’s show to talk about the controversy his group stirred up over a Facebook post from Megan Dunn. Much to his chagrin, Collier said that they had accepted Dunn’s apology, though remarked that he felt like it contained too many “yeah buts”. He said that we was concerned about be a “creep effect” from Seattle into Snohomish County that is prompting protestors to take a more “confrontational approach” like what was allegedly depicted in Dunn’s post.
Collier cited examples of this “creep effect” by telling Rantz about how protestors “surrounded a police car” and began to kick it. In addition to this, though, Collier said that protestors “being in the road” was also a violent act.
This is dangerous rhetoric, but it may help explain why EPD failed to arrest the driver of an SUV who plowed into protestors during a September 4th protest.
If protesting in a public space like the street is “violent”, then the cops are going to treat anybody who attempts to commit vehicular homicide as acting only in self-defense. This will undoubtedly put lives at risk and further exposes that the cops’ agenda here is to permit wild forms of violent intimidation and relation against their critics.
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