An East Precinct police sergeant was demoted after he drove his Seattle Police SUV to a Central District shopping center, unloaded an office chair, and rolled across the pavement to sit in front of the 23rd and Jackson AutoZone to wait 40 minutes for an employee to apologize for “disrespecting” him.
But he will not be fired for lying about his actions.
The Seattle Times reports that Chief Carmen Best handed down a decision last month to suspend officer Frank Poblocki 30 days for making “materially false statements” about the incident. The Times reports Best’s decision came despite SPD policy “that officers will be fired for dishonesty in their official duties — a cornerstone of rules adopted in 2008 to address community concerns about accountability.”
The February 2018 incident and body cam video came to light early this year as the Seattle Police union fought Poblocki’s demotion. The Office of Professional Accountability subsequently opened an investigation into whether Poblocki had lied to investigators about the incident.
In Best’s Disciplinary Action Report posted by the Seattle Times, the chief called Poblocki’s depiction of his events “not accurate, complete, or honest” —
“… I have determined that a third-day suspension is the appropriate outcome,” Best writes, concluding the report. “I note that this the longest suspension that I am permitted to impose under the Seattle Municipal Code, and I believe that your actions warrant that outcome. Should you engage in similar behavior in the future,” she writes, “it will likely result in the termination of your employment.”
Earlier this month, the federal judge overseeing reform of SPD after Department of Justice findings of bias and improper use of force took aim at the department’s new contract and said that “accountability issues” will need to be solved if federal oversight is to be lifted.
The ruling echoed criticism of the new contract raised by the Community Police Commission that the deal gave up many of the reforms won in thepassed by the Seattle City Council in 2017.
The Seattle Police Officers Guild, typically quick to speak out in support of disciplined officers, has not released any public statements about the Poblocki incident.
Poblocki has appealed the suspension.
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