In a December 2010 article in the Seattle Police union newsletter under the headline, "Just Shut Up and Be a Good Little Socialist," Officer Steve Pomper calls the city's five-year-old Race and Social Justice Initiative an attack on American values and calls its supporters "the enemy."
For the uninitiated, the Race and Social Justice Initiative exists to end institutionalized racism in city government and promote multiculturalism and full participation by all Seattle residents. If you support that, Officer Pomper says you are the enemy. And a socialist.
I don't know about you, but I'm two for two.
Pomper takes particular issue with the Seattle Police Department's "Perspectives in Profiling," a cultural competency program designed to get officers thinking and talking about their own racial bias and policing.
Last year I was invited to SPD's training facility and got to see pieces of the curriculum and I have to say, it was definitely thought-provoking, and much more substantive than I thought it would be.
Some people say Pomper should be fired because he is obviously a racist, and even Mayor McGinn has expressed his concern about the officer's opinions and candor.
The timing of Pomper's article is in itself controversial. Tensions between SPD and communities of color have grown exponentially in the past year as incidents of excessive force are caught on camera and played on the evening news.
According to a news report, McGinn said his office is in "active discussion" with the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate "patterns and practices" of Seattle police officers' confrontations with people of color, prompted by calls by the ACLU and 34 other organizations in December alone,
Officer Pomper shouldn't be fired of course, and I hope for everyone's sake he doesn't come out and apologize for saying his piece. I hate that. Don't apologize for saying something related to race simply because it made other people uncomfortable. As soon as that happens, any hope of learning is pretty much over.
Some people say Officer Pomper doesn't represent the department; his opinions are his own. Well, that's a given, but it's both at the same time, not one or the other. Sure, that's how he feels, but there are other cops who feel just the same way. The difference? They don't share their unpopular views publicly.
Here's one of the things I appreciate most about Officer Pomper's article: He reminds us all that some people don't care to change their views. He's been to the classes, he's had the discussions, and he thinks it's all a bunch of crap. He's entitled to feel that way and he's entitled to share it.
Does that mean he's a bad, racist cop? I don't know, but let's just say I hope he doesn't pull me over anytime soon.