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Armed with a newly minted package of proposed police reforms, city officials will gather Friday in a closed-door meeting with the U.S. Department of Justice to begin hashing out a new road map for law enforcement in Seattle.
At issue will be how Seattle will address a Department of Justice investigation that found police routinely use unconstitutional excessive force, uncovered disturbing, but inconclusive, evidence of biased policing, and led to a conclusion by Justice Department officials that police accountability in Seattle was “broken.”
Joselito Barber loved maple bars from Top Pot doughnuts so much that he once ran the bases at a softball game with one in his hand.
He also loved people and the notion of public service, so it was only natural he became a Seattle police officer, friends and family say.
It was thus fitting that a fundraiser in Barber’s honor would be held at Top Pot doughnuts in downtown Seattle on Saturday, the fifth anniversary of his death.
The dispatcher who stayed in communication with wounded officer Britt Sweeney that night and the Seattle officer who ended the manhunt for another cop killer, Maurice Clemmons, also received awards.
Benjamin Kelly, who shot Clemmons and whose actions were found justifiable by an inquest jury, was named officer of the year and received the medal of valor. In March, he was chosen as national police officer of the month by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Late yesterday evening, the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle contacted the Seattle Police Department on behalf of Angel Rosenthal, the 17-year-old teen who was involved in the officer assault incident, Monday, June 14th. The incident was caught on tape and the video has been seen around the world.
The teenager and her legal team, along with Mr. James Kelly, President and CEO of the Urban League approached the Seattle Police Department regarding the young woman’s desire to meet with Officer Walsh and apologize for her role in the unfortunate incident. .
This morning, there was a meeting between Officer Walsh and the 17-year-old girl. At the meeting the young woman apologized to Walsh for her actions and comments during the incident. Officer Walsh accepted the young woman’s apology. This meeting can be credited to President James Kelly. Also present and supporting these efforts were Rich O’Neill, President of the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild, Deputy Chief Nick Metz and Rev. Reggie Witherspoon, Pastor of Mount Calvary Christian Center.
The Seattle police officer who shot cop-killer Maurice Clemmons has been named the Officer of the Month for March by the National Law Enforcement Officers memorial Fund.
Benjamin Kelly killed Clemmons in a confrontation on Dec. 1, two days after he killed four Lakewood officers.
A King County inquest jury decided Wednesday that Kelly had reason to fear for his life when he shot Clemmons. Clemmons was reaching for a gun that he had taken from one of the slain officers.
Kelly is a five-year veteran of the Seattle Police Department. He’ll be honored at an awards luncheon during National Police Week next year in Washington, D.C.
A Seattle policeman has testified about the night he faced off alone against a feared cop killer. It was during the all out manhunt for Maurice Clemmons who had earlier killed four Lakewood police officers.
An inquest is underway to determine if the Seattle police officer who killed Clemmons last December was justified in his actions. KPLU Law and Justice Reporter Paula Wissel has more.
The Facebook support page has more than 7,600 members, with messages from across the country.
Many of the posts written to Britt Sweeney — the Seattle Police officer who was wounded the night a gunman killed her partner, Tim Brenton — speak to her courage for firing back at the suspect. Strangers have said they’re praying for her, and several fellow officers have written that they’ve got her back.
“It’s what gets me through day to day; I can’t lie,” Sweeney said Wednesday. “It’s those messages in my hard times that I read — and I have read every single message, many multiple times. And it’s just been a surreal experience.
“It’s made me realize that people — my brothers and sisters of Seattle (police), Seattle as a city and the country — have been behind me.”
Sweeney, who had not spoken publicly since the Oct. 31 attack, broke her silence Wednesday to David Rose, host of “Washington’s Most Wanted” on Q13 Fox. The show selected her as officer of the month for November and received praise Wednesday from Assistant Chief Nick Metz for soliciting viewer tips about the shootings.
A portion of the interview is available online here, and in a video below. More will be aired Friday and Saturday on “Washington’s Most Wanted.”
Sweeney, 33, had started her student officer training about seven months before the attack. Most of her October shifts had been spent at the West Precinct. The night of the shooting was her second with Brenton, an East Precinct field training officer who joined the department nine years ago.
“We were building that relationship that you build with your field training officer, and we did have a few good laughs,” Sweeney told Rose. “We definitely were starting to build that bond.”
They conducted a traffic stop, and at 10:06 p.m. were discussing it near 29th Avenue and East Yesler Way when investigators say Christopher J. Monfort boxed in their patrol car with his 1980 Datsun 210.
He allegedly fired several rounds from a .223-caliber rifle — rounds that can penetrate a bulletproof vest — and Brenton was killed instantly.
Sweeney, who felt a bullet rip through her vest and into her back, exited the patrol car and fired several rounds as the attacker backed away, hitting his Datsun at least once.
In an emotional radio call, Sweeney can be heard giving her location, calling for backup, and saying her partner was dead.
Veteran officers have said the kind of calculated, near-fatal attack she faced in her first month of patrol is something many police never face in their careers. Her reaction, Sweeny said, was based on training.
“I think it would be insincere to say that I’m not scared,” she told Rose. “I’m human. But again, I’ve got my brothers and sisters in blue that are taking care of me, plus the rest of the country.
“I feel very safe at this point.”
Sweeney said she was awake for 36 hours after the shooting. It was back at the West Precinct, in a break-area recliner, where she was finally able to fall asleep. She stayed with officers there for the first couple of nights.
At the Q13 Fox studios Wednesday, Sweeney didn’t discuss specific details of the shooting. Some details she hasn’t shared with all her family members.
Monfort, 41, has been charged with aggravated first-degree murder for Brenton’s death. He also faces an arson count for the Oct. 22 bombing of Seattle police vehicles and three attempted first-degree murder counts for his alleged attacks on Sweeney and on two homicide detectives who helped capture Monfort after Brenton’s memorial ended.
That timing, Sweeney said, was poetic justice.
Sweeney moved to Seattle from the East Coast about four years ago and previously worked as a fitness instructor.
“I came into the (police) academy ready to hit it, and so I was used to waking up early,” she said when asked of her 5:30 a.m. workouts.
Her mother moved to be near her when Sweeney made it clear she wasn’t moving back east. Since the shooting, many family members have offered to come stay with her. Relatives have asked if she’s sure about staying with the department.
Sweeney said her brother is proud of her desire to be an officer, but keeps sending subliminal messages. “Are you sure you don’t want to be a detective?” he asked recently.
“They realize this is what I want to do and they’ve been able to see the positive and to be proud rather than be wallowing in the sorrow of what if and what could be,” Sweeney told Rose.
“I really give them a lot of credit to put their feelings on the back burner and support me.”
Sweeney said she wants to return to work when she can, though she told Rose there’s some anxiety.
“But it would be a big disservice to Tim to not get back out there and live my life and fight the fight.”
Sweeney didn’t explain in detail why she wanted to be an officer, instead responding with a joke she often tells other officers: to write reports.
However, Sweeney said the shooting incident hasn’t shifted her focus, other than letting her know “I’m a lifetimer now.”
As part of the Q13 Fox presentation, Myrle Carner with CrimeStoppers of Puget Sound presented Sweeney with a gift certificate to McCormick’s Fish House & Bar. A retired Seattle police detective, he also praised her work.
Assistant Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel and homicide detectives have described Sweeney’s actions as those of a 10-year veteran. Metz said he was struck the night of the shooting by how Sweeney was more concerned about Brenton’s family than herself.
“I’ve seen her several times, every time with a smile on her face and I know that’s part of her way of getting through this,” he told Rose. “We’re going to continue to give her the support that she needs.”
Metz said her return to patrol will be a mutual decision, and department officials know she’ll face difficulties, having gone through such a traumatic experience.
But the support from fellow officers and the community is what’s getting her through.
“‘Thank you,’ is beyond an understatement,” she told Rose. “I have yet to find the combination of words in the Webster’s dictionary to say ‘thank you,’ to tell everybody how amazing they’ve been.
“I’m hoping to get to that point but for now I’ll have to keep it as simple as ‘thank you.’”
SEE THE FULL INTERVIEW: “Washington’s Most Wanted” airs at 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday on Q13 Fox, and at 9:30 p.m. on My Q2. For showtimes in other cities, check catchwmw.com.
By Casey McNerthney
On November 18th at 1:00 p.m. the Seattle Police Department held a promotion ceremony at City Hall to announce the promotions of numerous individuals and honor their achievements. Highlighted below is some additional biographical information about each of the promotion recipients:
• Assistant Chief Mike Sanford – Mike is a 25-year veteran. He took command of the Patrol Operations Bureau, and oversees Crime Analysis, Peer Support, and all five police precincts. As an officer he worked in the East Precinct, SWAT and was a police academy instructor. As a sergeant he supervised the Narcotics unit and served on a citywide Anti-Crime Team. As a lieutenant he led the Narcotics and Audit and Procedures units. As a captain Mike served as an administrative assistant to the Chief of Police, led Metro Special Response, Homeland Security, and Operations and Planning. He was also the West Precinct commander.
• Captain Jim Dermody – Jim is a 19-year veteran of the department and a second-generation Seattle Police officer. He is the current commander of the East Precinct. As an officer he worked in the North Precinct and SWAT. As a sergeant he continued to serve in the North Precinct and SWAT. As a lieutenant he worked in the Homicide Unit and in four of the five precincts.
• Captain Dave Emerick – Dave joined the Seattle Police Department in 1982 as a reserve officer and was hired as a police officer in 1985. He is the current commander of the South Precinct and the former captain of Violent Crimes. As an officer he worked in the West and North Precincts, and the Narcotics unit. As a sergeant he worked in the South Precinct and in the Narcotics and Gangs units. As a lieutenant he worked in the West Precinct and the Harbor and Homicide units.
• Captain Ron Wilson – Ron is a 33-year veteran. He is the commander of Metro Special Response that includes SWAT, K-9, Mounted, and Harbor Patrol. As an officer he worked in the West Precinct, K-9 and Communications. As a sergeant he worked in the West Precinct and was assigned special activities. As a lieutenant he worked in the West and East Precincts, the Vice and Robbery units, as well as earning the reputation of being the department’s expert on gangs. Ron is also a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.
• Lieutenant Joel Guay – Joel is a 28-year veteran. He is the lieutenant for East Precinct/1st Watch. As an officer he worked in the West and East Precincts, on an Anti-Crime Team, and in the North Burglary/Theft and Fraud/Explosives units. As a sergeant he worked in the West Precinct and in the Internal Investigations Section.
• Lieutenant Deanna Nollette – Deanna is a 13-year veteran. She is the lieutenant for East Precinct /2nd Watch. As an officer she worked in the South Precinct and the Media Relations Unit. As a sergeant she worked in the West Precinct and supervised the Media Relations Unit. In 2001 Deanna received SPD’s Outstanding Public Service Award for the Amber Alert Program.
• Lieutenant Michael Teeter – Mike is a 17-year veteran. He is the lieutenant for Employment Services in Human Resources. As an officer he worked in the South and West Precincts and in the Traffic Unit. As a sergeant he worked in the Southwest Precinct and the Internal Investigations Section. He is a certified Drug Recognition Expert, and has trained hundreds of officers and recruits in DUI enforcement, in the Drug Recognition Expert program, and the administration of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. In 2008, Mike received an Outstanding Public Service Award.
• Lieutenant Alan Williams – Alan is a 23-year veteran. He is the lieutenant for West Precinct/3rd Watch. As an officer he worked in the South and North precincts and the North Anti-Crime Team. As a sergeant he served in the North Precinct, on the ACT and SWAT teams, and in the Internal Investigations and Evidence Sections. Alan is a retired U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel.
• Sergeant John Brooks – John is a 17-year veteran. He is a sergeant for East Precinct/3rd Watch. As an officer he worked in the East, North and South Precincts, and was also assigned to SWAT. He received a Medal of Valor in 2002.
• Sergeant Bryan Clenna – Bryan is a 13-year SPD veteran. He has also served eight years in the U.S. Army’s Military Police Corps. He is a sergeant for East Precinct/3rd Watch. As an officer he worked in the South and West Precincts, and in Youth Outreach. In 2003, Bryan received SPD’s Excellence Award.
• Sergeant James Danielson – James joined SPD in 1992. He is a sergeant in the Internal Investigations Section. As an officer he worked in the South Precinct and in the Sexual Assault and CSI units. James has lectured for the Ministry of Justice in Japan on Criminal Investigations and Prosecutions in a jury system, and spoken to the High Court of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Police regarding common law jurisprudence and police procedures in Eastern cultures.
• Sergeant Avery Jaycin Diaz – Jaycin is a 15-year veteran, and is currently assigned to Communications. As an officer he worked in the South and West Precincts, and in the Communications Section. Jaycin is also a veteran of the U.S. Navy.
• Sergeant Stephen Hirjak – Stephen is a 16-year veteran, and is a sergeant in the Internal Investigations Section. As an officer he worked in the North Precinct, on the Community Police Team, and in the Domestic Violence Unit. In 2003 he won an Innovation Award, and also received the 2004 Officer of the Year Award from the Lake City Elks Club. Stephen is a U.S. Air Force veteran.
• Sharon Burk – Sharon joined the Seattle Police in 1988 and has worked as Communications Dispatcher II and III. She is being promoted to Chief Communications Dispatcher.
• PEO Mary Mitchell – Mary is a 17-year veteran of the Seattle Police Department. She was named Parking Enforcement Officer of the Month for August 2007. She is being promoted to Parking Enforcement Supervisor.
• PEO Jason Kasube – Jason was hired in 2002 and was awarded Parking Enforcement Officer of the Month twice, once in 2004 and again in 2008. Jason is being promoted to Parking Enforcement Supervisor.
• PEO George Murray – George joined SPD in 2004 and was awarded Parking Enforcement Officer of the Month in March 2008. George is also being promoted to Parking Enforcement Supervisor.
Late Monday night, police got a call about a group of women fighting in the International District. One was armed with an umbrella.
Officer Chris Myers pulled his car behind them, then got in amongst the angry group. When one woman who had been ordered to leave slowly walked back for more, he charged up the street.
“What did I tell you?” he asked, calm but assertive. The woman turned and walked away.
Standing well over 6 feet, Myers appeared anything but shy in that case, or in another incident later that night involving a man suspected of assaulting a Uwajimaya store employee.
Fellow officers and business owners who know Myers from working nights in Pioneer Square have dozens of stories about what they say is his tireless energy and superior tactical intelligence.
Some shared those tales in support of his Officer of the Year nomination. Friday night at the Sheraton Hotel, Myers will receive that honor at the eighth annual awards banquet, sponsored by the Seattle Police Foundation.
Thing is, as a high school kid he didn’t always picture himself being that well-respected cop.
“I was painfully shy,” he said.
That lasted into college — Evergreen State — where things started to change when Myers took a course called the stage fright workshop. After graduation, he expected to be an art teacher.
Myers, passionate about police training, still uses the skills he developed to be a high school teacher. It’s a big part of what earned him the top officer award.
“He cares about the people in the neighborhood and takes the time to get to know them, talk with them, and listens well to what they have to say,” managers of the Last Supper Club wrote in a nomination letter.
They talked of his “unbelievable degree of patience,” and said he often talks people into doing the right thing.
That communication is key, said Myers, 42.
“You start off polite and ask them to behave. Then you tell them to behave. And then you make them behave.”
Early teaching inspiration
Myers’ first class with Glenn Greer was more than two decades ago at Juanita High School, though that teacher’s courses still stand out more than others.
“He provided enough individual challenge that I looked forward to the class,” he said of an initial photography course. Greer encouraged peer teaching, having kids develop their skills by showing others. He’d step in later if some lesson elements were missed.
“He showed not all learning is about sitting in a chair, passively absorbing information being thrown at you from the front of the room,” Myers said.
One of his assignments was to help a girl load film onto a reel for developing. She’d tried dozens of times and wasn’t close.
He coached her through loading the plastic reel in the light until she was confident. Then she tried it in the dark, and Myers still remembers the excitement from her success.
“That was the first taste of it,” he said. “I thought, ‘I could do this for a while.’”
So he enrolled in courses to teach art. After graduating in the late 1980s, Myers sent applications to four or five school districts. He decided to also put in an application to be a police officer, as his dad had been for years in Seattle.
In January 1990, he started with the Seattle department.
“I don’t sit behind a desk well, knowing what I’ll be doing day after day,” he said, patrolling Fifth Avenue South. “Out here, I don’t know what kind of call we’ll get five minutes from now.”
Passion for patrolIn his July nomination letter, Myers’ sergeant, Colin Hotnit, told of when Myers was one of the first responding officers to a sexual assault in progress.
“Officer Myers coordinated the efforts of the officers at the scene and created an arrest scenario that minimized the chance the suspect would attempt to flee or resist arrest,” Hotnit wrote.
When the Pyramid Alehouse was burglarized June 11, Myers was again one of the first on scene. Hotnit commended his building search plan, coordinating a dozen officers in two teams in addition to organizing a police perimeter.
Five suspects were taken into custody without incident.
Earlier this year after a Subway employee was assaulted in a strong-arm robbery near Yesler Way and First Avenue, Myers linked the suspect to an unrelated shoplifting call and arrested him in connection with both cases.
Some officers become savvier with time but lose the sheer excitement of going from 911 call to 911 call, said Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, who oversaw Myers in Pioneer Square last year.
“Chris was a really good example of balancing those two,” he said. “And he was not one that hoarded his info or experience.”
A ‘significant benefit’
Myers’ skills were put to use after the shootings at Columbine High School, when he wrote scenarios for rapid intervention training — a department term for a kind of police response. The training was done inside the former seminary at St. Edward State Park.
After the WTO protests, Myers became more involved with less-lethal force options and worked with other officers to create a series of presentations that have been recognized by the National Institutes of Justice.
He shared those skills with officers in Oregon last February and officers in Texas last April. Myers, who also won the 2005 Medal of Valor, has been recognized as an expert witness at both the state and federal levels for less-lethal options.
He’s also one of the originators of the Patrol Chemical Agent Response Team and helped develop the patrol team tactics curriculum.
His work “is clearly of significant benefit to our agency,” Hotnit wrote.
Working with him in the West Precinct “was like having a second sergeant,” colleague Eric Chartrand said.
“There are a lot of personalities and a lot of egos in police work, and it’s not the easiest thing in the world to talk to an officer and tell him you think he did something not appropriate or wrong as far as technique,” he said. “But Chris has the ability to say, ‘Hey, next time you might want to think about doing it this way.’
“It doesn’t make the person feel like he’s being attacked, and he also learns from it.”
MORE AWARD WINNERS: The full list of police award winners will be posted Friday night on the Seattle 911 blog.
By Casey McNerthney