Insensitive, Disrespectful and a Violation of Department Policy – Seems the Mayor and the Chief don’t think so

BTW I’m not voting for Mayor Verner.  If elected I will work for her recall for malfeasance in office.

This is not an ideological and or a liberal/conservative based issue.  This is an issue that all citizens of Spokane should be deeply concerned about no matter their political affiliation.  This has everything to do about the rule of law –

As Archibald Cox said after he was fired in the “Saturday Night Massacre” in the Nixon Watergate Scandal

“Whether ours shall continue to be a government of laws and not of men is now for Congress and ultimately the American people,” Archibald Cox stated after his firing. Ten days later, impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives began as the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Peter Rodino, started its preliminary investigation.

From my post in the S-R article thread on the actions of some 48 SPD officers who were present in federal court when the US Marshall took now convicted Ofc. Karl Thompson into custody:

Ron_the_Cop on November 05 at 6:13 a.m.

Insensitive, Disrespectful and a Violation of Department Policy – Seems the Mayor and the Chief don’t think so

Prepared statement – “The courtroom behavior of some officers, though protected as free speech, does not reflect the values we stand for,” Yes it’s protected free speech but these officers are still bound by SPD policy.

S-R quote –

“Kirkpatrick later said she had warned officers that they could not attend the hearing while on duty. She has directed the city’s human resources director to check for violations of that directive.”

What the Hell! Human resources director?

Kirkpatrick said she understood reactions like Reagor’s from the community. “Was it insensitive to the Zehm family? Sure,” Kirkpatrick said of the salute. “Was it actionable? No.”

This is an actionable SPD policy violation and there should be an immediate IA investigation

I do understand the emotional need to show support albeit perhaps misdirected and uninformed –HOWEVER the manner in which this was done discredits all officers that serve. This action in the courtroom no less was disrespectful of the rule of law, the sanctity of the court and of course the victim’s family.

Retired SPD Major Crimes Detective Brian Breen posted the possible violations of SPD’s Policy Manual –

Let’s see if the Chief and the Mayor have any kind of integrity at all or who really runs this city. Based on past discipline the minimum for each officer is two days suspension without pay, no vacation substitution.

See if they feel so strongly about doing what they did in open court with a convicted felon that they are willing to walk in and admit what they did and take the unpaid days.

Or shall we see if the Chief is like I’ve said all along, the worst we have ever had.

Standard 4.4:
Members of the Spokane Police Department shall maintain a level of conduct in their personal and business affairs in keeping with the high standards of the Spokane Police Department

Standard 4.9:
Members of the Spokane Police Department shall at all times conduct themselves in a manner which does not discredit the law enforcement profession or the Spokane Police Department

Standard 4.10:
Members of the Spokane Police Department shall not be disrespectful, insolent,
mutinous or insubordinate in attitude, or conduct, or by disregarding a lawful order.

Standard 4.11:
Members of the Spokane Police Department shall be courteous and respectful in
their official dealings with the public, fellow members, superiors and subordinates.

Standard 6.3:
Members of the Spokane Police Department shall conduct themselves so as to set exemplary standards of performance.

Ron_the_Cop on November 05 at 6:16 a.m.

Federal Receiver Action by the US DOJ?

There is a decent retired cop and some others, Brian Breen, being one of them in town that are angry and embarrassed by this action by a number of SPD officers:

I’ve already talked to some embarrassed ex-cops, as well as some federal employees.
If it isn’t an IA complaint by 1300 hrs. Monday. I’ll make it. If I need photos and video, I’ll post my email. Please accept my apologies. . .

If necessary. I’ll have the names of everyone in the courtroom aside from the SPD people by Tuesday afternoon. I’ll collect the video and any stills available. Those that will allow it, I will do tape recorded interviews. I will do a PDR for time cards and shift logs. I’ll request an interview with Judge Hutton, and very probably get it. I’ll easily get statements from the Marshals, the US Attorney, and the court security staff. And yes try and get statements CO and the rest of the defense team as well as the media present. I’m sure Finer will give me a statement, and make the family available for statements.

Basically I’ll do everything IA should be doing and I’ll hand the damn thing to them on a gold platter, if they won’t do the right thing after that, then there is nothing more I can do.

What these young guns don’t realized is that they are under the watchful eye of the US Department of Justice that could take the SPD into receivership.

Ron_the_Cop on November 05 at 1:09 p.m.


There were more appropriate ways of showing support for Ofc. Thompson than IMO a show of open defiance inside the courtroom. I am very sure this caught the attention of the feds. Trust me from prior experience inspection under the federal microscope in not a pleasant ordeal.

I do agree with you regarding the application of the unsanctioned/unapproved use of the mask. Not turning Zehm on his side immediately after he was under control and the application of the mask were the direct cause of his death IMO – positional asphyxia. This is not an uncommon experience within LE circles and so ignorance is not a very good defense re a criminal filing for negligent homicide/manslaughter. The burden for these crimes under existing state law is only – reckless disregard. This is much less that the federal CRV burder of willful.

Some have asked why the feds didn’t charge manslaughter here. It’s simple the feds don’t have a specific section for neg homicide/manslaughter. The only available federal actions are civil/criminal civil rights violations.

This goes back to my disdain of Steve Tucker for not raising the professional bar in these OIS/OIDs. Mistakes will be made. The question is whether we learn anything from them and change practices and training so the risk of these tragic incidents happening again are minimize. Had Tucker done so perhaps Zehm, Creach and others would still be alive today.

As I said in the earlier thread when EthicsinLE ( ) challenged my training and experience, I agree as does Brian Breen the SPD rank and file has significant issues with Chief Kirkpatrick and the current command staff. This requires a political solution. To effect this change you need the support of the community to do so. This display in court yesterday did nothing to build that support with the community.

Someone made the reference to police as being sheepdog to guard the flock from evil. This is true but with this caveat –

On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs –
(From the book, On Combat, by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman)

…The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.


I have filed a formal complaint to be merged with the complaint Brian Breen intends to file with SPD Ombudsman Tim Burns regarding the actions on 11-04-11 of some members of the Spokane Police Department.  You can read my complaint letter here.  Any who feel this action was disrespectful can also contact Mr. Burns by phone, email and or fax to join in Brian Breen’s complaint.

Office of Police Ombudsman
The Old City Hall Building
221 N. Wall Street, Suite 238
Spokane, Washington 99201
(509) 625-6742
Fax (509) 625-6748