Ferguson: Weasel words from SPD

Slog has a post up on Mayor Murray’s response to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. In it, the Stranger also asks SPD spokesman Sean Whitcomb about SPD’s use of militarized equipment. Whitcomb’s response: “As far as this notion that we might use militarized equipment, I’m happy to say that we don’t…We are a police service… the Seattle Police Department uses equipment and gear that is specific to our profession. And our profession delivers public safety services.”

This is carefully worded horseshit. SPD was one of the first local law enforcement agencies (with the 1999 WTO protests) to embrace military-style gear, and in the years since 9-11 it’s one of the largest local PD recipients of Homeland Security grants to get excess military hardware (aka “cool new toys.”) In fact, SPD’s own blog has a long list of gear gotten from just one DHS program over the past four years:

“Equipment specific to our profession” is a meaningless phrase when every urban police force in the country, and more than a few rural ones, have fortified themselves like this. And “And our profession delivers public safety services” is the sort of thing that sounds great to PR people and is openly ridiculed for its vacuity out here in the real world.

Carefully crafted, weaselly statements like Whitcomb’s are just another in a long list of reasons why SPD has earned such distrust in the city it allegedly serves. O’Toole’s cleaning of SPD’s house can’t come fast enough.

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