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‘Until safety is restored’ — East Precinct commander cracks down on Cal Anderson

After a Labor Day holiday weekend that started with an announcement from the Mayor’s office of support for an increased safety emphasis in the park and was marred by an incident in which a man was severely beaten there, East Precinct commander Capt. Jim Dermody has sent out a media bulletin early Tuesday morning with additional details about Sunday’s beating, a status report on actions SPD has already taken and a look at what additional efforts will be made to make Cal Anderson Park a safer place including the full-time dedication of the East Precinct bike officers “until safety is restored.”


In the bulletin, Dermody emphasizes that Sunday’s beating incident did not involve people from the neighborhood and was possibly a crime of passion. Dermody writes that both the suspect and the victim in the incident are “not from Seattle” and also notes that the fight was “reportedly related to perceived advances on a female known to both.” There is no update on the victim’s condition. SPD had said the victim suffered “extensive skull fractures” but his condition had improved at the hospital.

Dermody also confirms that a “buy/bust” narcotics operation was underway in the park this weekend. CHS has learned that this operation was underway in the park at the time of the beating on Sunday meaning the area was busy with police and active surveillance at the time of the crime. According to Dermody, the operation resulted in two arrests: a 31-year-old male and a 17-year-old female. Both were busted for dealing marijuana.

“Until safety is restored and the behavioral standards reset as allowed for in the Seattle Municipal Code,” Dermody announced the East Precinct mountain bike squad will be dedicated to patrolling Cal Anderson and the surrounding streets.

Additional efforts in Cal Anderson will include deployment of a new county Mobile Outreach Team that will be piloted in the East Precinct to help connect people with shelter and mental health services, closer work with parks staff for graffiti clean-up, and continued presence of undercover SPD in the park.

In mid-August, CHS reported on the efforts of a Capitol Hill woman to bring attention to what she said were dangerous conditions in Cal Anderson. Laura Stockwell says she is organizing a petition to present to the mayor during his Capitol Hill town hall at Miller Community Center on September 13.  On Friday, the office of Mayor Mike McGinn, sent out an announcement detailing an increased effort to patrol the park. 

Meanwhile, Cal Anderson is not Dermody’s only community worry right now. Over the weekend, a series of “shots fired” incidents around the Central District had people on edge. There were no victims or damage found in those incidents, according to SPD.

9-5-11 Update Cal Anderson

When this post was first published, we referred to Capt. Jim Dermody as a lieutenant. Sorry for the error.

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75 thoughts on “‘Until safety is restored’ — East Precinct commander cracks down on Cal Anderson

  1. Seattle should work on a harm reduction program similar to what Zurich, Switzerland has accomplished. We could lead the country in drug policy reform. The federal government is manipulated by an elite core of internationalists (who nobody will publicly condemn) that have dominated government openly for 50 years.

  2. The steps outlined by Lt. Dermody sound excellent and should make a big difference….thank you! I can only hope the renewed efforts will be sustained over a period of time….at least until this winter when there will be a “natural” decrease in problems at Cal Anderson.

  3. In the rush to show the flag, the benefits of plainclothes police can be forgotten. The police need to ditch those slow, stupid, unsafe mountain bicycles and try to fit in a little. If members of mounted patrols are so weak as to require such oversize handlebars, then perhaps a little physical therapy is in order. A better solution might be to get normal bicycles (which are faster and easier to ride), normal clothes, and to ride around like normal people. They’ll see more and do more.

    That part of the neighborhood also needs more plainclothes officers on foot. The East Precinct building is so close that it’d only take 15-30 minutes to do a quick walk-around to check on the major trouble spots.

  4. You’d think that the police would have taken action before this out of sheer embarrassment that crimes have been happening blocks away from their precinct instead of waiting for the mayor’s office to issue a plan. Better late than never I guess…

  5. People report violent crime in the park, so our police set up an undercover drug purchasing operation, and all they have to report from a weekend at it is two sales of marijuana? That sounds like a failure to me. With a friendly attitude, they could probably go to any park in the city and find 31-year-olds and 17-year-olds to sell them weed.

    Ruining two people’s lives by charging them with felonies for doing something half the voters in our state think should be completely legal is not likely to improve safety in our park. It’s likely to further demonstrate to the public that many of our peace officers are out of touch with reality.

  6. from the dire threat posed by two pot dealers. And for the plainclothes cops involved, I’m sure a pot bust beats doing actual police work.

    Get a clue, SPD. Stop wasting your time and our tax dollars on this crap.

  7. In 2003, dd, a resounding 59% of the voters in Seattle voted for Initiative 75, the ballot measure that directed Seattle police to make low-level pot busts their lowest priority.

    Looks like the SPD didn’t read the news that day. Or perhaps criminals took a holiday yesterday during that pot bust and there was nothing else for the police to do.

  8. DD: I don’t believe that half of Washingtonians believe that exchanging tiny amounts of the cannabis plant for money should be a felony. I don’t believe that the majority of Seattleites believe that busting two people for small-time weed sales is worthy of a weekend of overtime for multiple peace officers.

    How do you suppose a felony is likely to affect the future of that 17-year-old? You probably have friends and neighbors who occasionally share cannabis with their friends, committing the same crime of distribution that this young woman did. Do they seem like felons to you?

    Next time you hear that our police are underfunded and understaffed, consider that a significant portion of the resources we allocate to them are wasted on the investigation of victimless crimes like gambling, consensual sex for money, and the trade of substances that are currently prohibited by the U.S. government.

  9. They bust pot dealers? – WTF happened to the MJ being the “lowest police priority” in Seattle? SPD, do you godamn job which is helping prevent crime and busing criminals. Leave the MJ alone, jesus. The tools chain smoking cigarettes (440,000 Americans die from tobacco every freakin year) in front of Vita are more dangerous than the MJ dealers. This city and county are both such a joke. Tools.

  10. These buy-bust operations are surely lots of fun for our public employees, but they’re not typically a good use of our money. When our police proudly announce that they engaged in an a Labor Day Weekend sting operation to bust a couple people selling small amounts of weed, I think we should respond by asking them why they did that instead of investigating serious crime.

    Years ago, we suggested park rangers, but McGinn, Ceis, and Diaz spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on park surveillance cameras that had no recognizable effect on park safety (and have since been removed). Several incidents of violent crime happened in a park across the street from our police station, and a hypodermic needle was found in the bushes, so our police went undercover and busted two people for pot. Maybe they should have spent that time installing some sharps containers.

    Notice that Chief Diaz did not report arrests for anything other than cannabis as a result of their buy-bust operation, and that he did not specify the amount of cannabis that these two people were accused of selling. Translation: This is all they have to show for the operation, and the amounts were so small that reporting them would have made the operation sound foolish. You can bet there’d be a press conference with a table stacked with cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and guns if any had been confiscated.

    I don’t know how to reduce the rate of violent crime, but I strongly suspect that having our police sneak around talking people into selling them joints on a sunny day the park is not going to do it.

  11. I’m not against legalizing MJ…but unless and until it’s legalized, what do you expect them to do? “Non-priority” doesn’t mean legal.

    Can you imagine how ridiculous it would get, if suddenly everyone knew police wouldn’t go after them selling pot, anywhere? The entire park (and most of Broadway and the Ave in the U District) would be awash in people selling weed. Do you seriously think that wouldn’t even have more negative repercussions for Cal Anderson?

  12. DD: In effect, yes. We only allocate so much money for our police to use on our behalf. Until they’re sitting around looking for busywork in an attempt to spend a budget surplus, it seems reasonable to assume that that which is their lowest law enforcement priority will be ignored.

    But small-time pot busts are fun, and generally safe, and as repeated incidents over the past few years have shown, our police are almost entirely unaccountable for their actions, so it’s not surprising that they continue to allocate our scarce resources to doing things we don’t want done and cannot afford.

  13. Maybe I don’t know how to read or I get my information from the wrong source…

    “I-75 relaxes enforcement against adults possessing 40 grams or less of pot for personal use. The measure did not change city policies toward sellers or minors.”

  14. dd, your problem is less with reading and more with thinking. Given finite and very limited police resources, is pursuing victimless crimes worth it, simply from a cost/benefit perspective? Sure, pot sales remain nominally illegal, but do they threaten your safety and possessions as much as other illegal activity that the SPD does not have the resources to eliminate?

    Aside from ruining people’s lives by saddling them with a drug conviction, pot busts really accomplish nothing, don’t you think? Or don’t you?

  15. Jim98122x wrote, “Can you imagine how ridiculous it would get, if suddenly everyone knew police wouldn’t go after them selling pot, anywhere?”

    It would be wonderful. I volunteer lots of time working toward such a situation. Imagine what we could do with all the money we’re wasting on that effort now.

    Multiple undercover SPD officers worked all weekend long and convinced a couple people to sell them small amounts of pot in the park. Heckofa job, Captain Dermody.

  16. By busting two pot dealers work will get out that Cal Anderson is not a place to conduct illegal activity like that.

    Sort of like a speed trap set up the same spot on a highway. You know to slow down in that area since the chances of getting caught are higher than in other areas.

    And count me in the half that believes it should be a felony.

  17. My guess is that the police went to the park with specific intent to bust small time pot traders. I’m certain they had no desire to find and arrest bigger fry. I’m also certain that their actions had nothing to do with citizen complaints of open drug use, including use of drugs requiring injection. Yep, the cops just went in, of their own accord, to hassle little Timmy Twojoint.

  18. Phil …. you makes such god damned sense – can we run you for Mayor or Police Chief?? Please, please.

    The morality sham of busting people for a joint or a gram while many middle class folks toke a bit now and then at every party has always bothered me. Maybe even cops and prosecuters, at the home of friends, before sex?, of course in secret and why should THEY go to jail for harmless recreational small time drug use?…

    Your comments are right on, to the eye of the bull.

  19. I disagree. I think there were public complaints, so SPD needed to do something. So they paid some officers overtime to stage an undercover operation which promptly went after the lowest-hanging fruit: sales of small quantities of cannabis. Presented carefully, this operation suggests to the public that SPD are taking complaints about crime in the park seriously. But look more closely, and you’ll find that it was just a waste of our money.

    If people have been complaining of sales of joints in the park, then let’s see the public records of those complaints that justify this action. Let’s see the general offense reports for these busts so we’ll know what circumstances led to them.

  20. “Pot dealers”? Your neighbor probably is a “pot dealer”. Your cousin probably is a “pot dealer”. Most people can’t just walk into a store and buy it, you know. Have you ever sent some money with your friend to pick up a bottle of wine for you at the store? Ever chipped in on a keg of beer your friend bought? Then your friend is a drug dealer. Whether it’s currently lawful or not, the action is the same whether the substance is fermented grapes, fermented barley malt, or dried cannabis flowers, and it’s ridiculous to say that action is on par with murder and rape.

    Undercover cops worked all weekend and convinced two people who had extra weed to sell a tiny amount of it to some seemingly-friendly park-goers who begged for it. I wonder what this operation cost us. Heckofa job, Captain Dermody.

  21. 1. “lowest priority” is for simple possession of mj, not the selling of mj. (I personally agree with total legalization and/or decriminalization, however that isn’t the law yet)

    2. If you were paying attention you would have noticed that many of the “socially undesirables” in Cal Anderson that commenters on this site complain about are selling drugs. And not just to fellow homeless/mentally-ill/crusties, but well-dressed yuppies and hipsters that frequent the nearby bars, restaurants, and boutiques. That’s why they hangout in CalAnd instead of Miller or Volunteer Park*. Want to cleanup CA? Tell your cool friends at the club or bar to stop buying their pot, coke, and meth there.

    *I have seen some homeless people sleeping in VP, but they are really sleeping and keeping to themselves. There isn’t an open drug market as far as I can tell.

  22. I don’t think but that isn’t relevant.

    It is easier for you to point the finger at me and suggest I have a problem but I am not the one stupid enough to be openly selling an illegal substance in a public park.

    The responsiblity for ruining a life in this siuation lies completely with the person who is committing the crime. I know it is hard for some to accept personal responsibility/accountability. It’s always easier to deflect and blame others.

    I’m not sure if you should be questioning whether I am thinking.

  23. Phil – actually two of my cousins have:

    1. Spent eight years in prison for drug abuse and dealing (pot included)
    2. Hospitalized from an overdose, pot was a direct cause

    What’s next? Making fun of my dead mother?

  24. 15th Ave E wrote, “`lowest priority’ is for simple possession of mj, not the selling of mj.

    That’s not entirely correct. Initiative 75 made arrest and prosecution of adults for crimes related to cannabis intended for personal use our police and prosecutors’ lowest law enforcement priority. It applies to more than “simple possession,” including, for instance, the cultivation of cannabis intended for personal use. This came up at a meeting of Seattle City Council’s Marijuana Policy Review Panel (that link is broken, and I’ve notified the Web team of such), and nobody on the panel — not Tom Carr, not whoever was representing SPD at the time — disputed that cultivation was covered by the ordinance.

  25. Ok, so it doesn’t apply to selling MJ. Both of the arrests above were for dealing. Where can you quote in Initiative 75 that dealing is to be ignored?

  26. MJ wrote, “Don’t you just need a pulse these days to get medical authorization for MJ?”

    You need to have one of the qualifying medical conditions enumerated in the Washington State Medical Use of Marijuana Act or one later added by the Washington State Department of Health’s Medical Quality Assurance Commission, and you need to discuss the potential risks and benefits with a doctor of medicine, a doctor of naturopathy, a physician’s assistant, or an advanced registered nurse practitioner, and you need that health care professional to sign a piece of state-approved, tamper-proof, paper stating such.

    “You just needed money at hempfest to do it.”

    That is incorrect. Jonathan Martin of the Seattle Times recently wrote of his experience becoming a legally-authorized medical cannabis patient after meeting with a doctor at Hempfest:

    I waited nearly two hours to see Dr. Carolyn Lee Bearss. . “Let’s focus on your back,” Bearss said.

    State law limits medical-marijuana use to patients with such debilitating conditions as AIDS-related wasting syndrome and multiple sclerosis. Intractable pain is defined as not easily managed, relieved or cured by other treatments.

    I did not embellish, although, with no medical records on hand, nothing would have prevented it. I describe a four-year problem, treated by physical therapy, prescription and over-the-counter pain remedies, with weekly flare-ups ranging from slight to severe. Most of my male friends and family have similar complaints.

    As required by the state law, Bearss did a physical exam, asking me to stretch until it hurt. She talked about other alternatives, including acupuncture, and advised me to see my primary doctor about other medical issues.

    Then, after 11 minutes, she signed the one-year authorization on tamper-proof paper, and I handed over my credit card.

    Martin has pain that is unrelieved by standard treatment, not just money.

  27. Jo: You’re missing the point. Someone who passes someone else a joint doesn’t deserve to be locked in a cage, to have voting rights stripped, to have student financial aid denied, etc.

    I’d like to hear more about your cousin’s reportedly-cannabis-related overdose. This is a plant that has been used by people for thousands of years, and we have no record of anyone ever dying as a result of such.

  28. Wait a minute, we get SIX bike cops and plainclothes officer resources, park rangers and mental health workers dedicated to nothing but Cal Anderson Park and a block radius around it and people are still complaining?

    I guess it’s easier to complain about why pot isn’t legalized and the length of bike cops’ handlebars than to begrudgingly thank Dermody for creating and implementing a plan that actually serves the wishes and needs of the hill.

  29. I-75 probably does not apply to the exchange of dried cannabis flowers for money by adults, and it certainly does not apply to a 17-year-old selling a joint to an undercover cop. Regardless, we can’t afford these operations, and most of us don’t want them. Why do our public employees continue to conduct them?

  30. Exactly. I have “pain” that is unrelieved by standard treatment is pretty easy to claim.

    Doctor: “Did tylenol help”
    Me: “No”
    Doctor: “Did the percocet help?”
    Me: “No”
    Doctor: “Did the oxycodone help?”
    Me: “No”
    Doctor: “You have pain that cannot be relieved by standard treatment”.

    The doctor cannot tell if your pain is being relieved, he can only rely on your word. How easy is that. And then you pay.

  31. EO, are you suggesting that because of Captain Dermody’s announcement about temporary reallocation of resources to our park, we should give him a pass on conducting a weekend of undercover “narcotics” operations which resulted in nothing related to any narcotic, but the arrest of two people for the sales of small amounts of cannabis?

    I think we can do both. There’s lots of good in Dermody’s plan. But let’s not call the buy-bust operation anything but a bust.

  32. MJ. You said that all it takes to get a medical marijuana authorization is a pulse, and I explained that you were mistaken. Now, you’re providing an example of someone in pain who not only has a pulse, but has tried over-the-counter medication that damages your liver along with two dangerous, addictive, and expensive prescription medications, and would prefer to use this safe and therapeutic herb instead. What’s your point? The law says that upon the recommendation of a qualified health care professional, that person can do so.

    A doctor has to take someone’s word for the fact that he’s in pain. If it’s good enough for dangerous narcotics like Oxycontin, it should be more than enough for cannabis.

    This is all beside the point. There has been some violent crime in our park, and in response, our precinct captain is trumpeting a weekend-long undercover operation that resulted in two piddly arrests for something most of us don’t even think is wrong, let alone deserving of felony prosecution.

  33. I never actually said the person in that scenario even took the pills that they were perscribed.

    What the law says and what happens in reality as noted by your example from the Seattle Times are two very different things

  34. First of all, do you know with certainty that the two are being charged with a felony? Usually, charging decisions are made at least several days later by the Prosecutor’s office, and it is likely that they will be charged with a misdemeanor, if that. This hardly will “ruin their lives.” If it affects their lives in some way, they alone are personally responsible.

    Yes, Initiative 75 did direct the SPD to give pot possession a low priority, but that hardly means “no priority” and that dealing should be ignored. Perhaps the SPD feels that, by making these arrests, they are “sending a message” that dealing of any illegal drug in Cal Anderson Park is not OK and that offenders will be caught and prosecuted.

    This “buy-bust” operation is only one of several specific plans announced by Captain Dermody. I think he deserves alot of credit for addressing the problems at Cal Anderson. But those who are anti-police, no matter what the issue, will disagree, because they automatically have a knee-jerk criticism of anything done by the SPD.

  35. There is absolutely no question that abuse of the medical marijuana law is going on at some marijuana “dispensaries,” including the “clinic” at the recent Hempfest. The Seattle Times reporter, Jonathan Martin, did not say that his back pain was “unrelieved” by standard treatments, only that he had used several approaches. He clearly did not qualify under the “intractable pain” category. The overall thrust of his article was that marijuana was very easy to obtain at such clinics, without previous medical records, by simply claiming certain things and paying a (substantial) fee.

    It was announced a few days ago that the medical provider(s) at the Hempfest “clinic” is now being investigated for possible violations and possible revoking of his/her medical license. If there was no question of the legitimacy of that clinic and its operations, why is this being done?

  36. Phil, I’ve seen your posts here, over at the Slog, and various other internet dialogue pages over the past few.

    You’ve got your positions and to your credit, you’re pretty unwavering, and I respect that. I think marijuana should be legalized too, but I think of a lot of other things to occupy my time, and weed legalization is not the only thing I care about.

    That being said, a drug bust is a drug bust. I’m pretty sure there are drug busts that happen in the park pretty often, I’ve seen you comment a lot on officers’ dope arrests yourself here on this blog. In fact, the one I remember you commenting on the most was a bike cop who busted a dude for heroin…and you criticized that too and insinuated that the cop had no reason to talk to the guy because you didn’t see (based on the report) that the suspect was doing anything suspicious in your eyes.

    Now, did a bunch of officers go to Cal Anderson for the express purpose of busting a drug dealer? Sure, because in order to have plainclothes officers out on the streets, you need even more of them in uniform hiding to swoop in to arrest the bad guys and to make sure the plainclothes guys are safe. Do you really think they targeted pot dealers specifically, or is it more likely that they were just trolling for drug dealers and the ones they caught just happened to be selling pot?

    I’d put money on the latter.

    Do I think we should give Dermody a pass? False question. It’s not his fault that the officers that went out to bust drug dealers (which they did), ended up busting a pot dealer instead of something sexier like heroin, crack, meth, or MDMA. Why talk smack about Dermody? He probably looked at his lieutenants and said, “Clean it up.” His lieutenants then talked to the sergeants who probably said, “Everyone is in an uproar over Cal Anderson Park. The Captain says clean it up.” The sergeants in turn then put it on the officers and respective squads, and they go in…and clean it up.

    I fail to see how that makes it Dermody’s fault, unless of course, you expect him to say, “Clean it up EXCEPT for anything related to pot dealers dealing drugs in the park because that would make the pot advocates happier. So…go ahead and try to arrest drug dealers, but if you’re in the middle of an operation and they try to sell you pot, back out and let it go…because those aren’t the drug dealers we should be going after…because that’s a DIFFERENT type of drug dealing, and even though it’s illegal, it’s not as illegal as say…selling cat tranquilizers or PCP or MDMA.”

    Does it suck for the pot dealers? Yeah, sure does, but as far as the police are concerned, I’m betting they’re not targeting pot dealers, and even though it’s Seattle PD’s lowest enforcement priority, dealing drugs (any illicit drugs for that matter) is still A) Illegal, B) Fair game inside of Cal Anderson Park, since they’ve obviously been tasked with crime suppression…including drug dealing.

    Dealing pot is still illegal for now, so the dealers knew the consequences. Trumpeting on and on about “lowest enforcement priority,” and “my tax dollars,” still doesn’t change the fact that dealing illegal drugs is still a crime, and is arrestable.

    Bottom line, it’s not like park-goers are falling over themselves calling 911 to report stuff anyways, or we’d see a huge uptick in 911 calls on those cool little maps people report on. Let’s stay on track, people vocally complained about Cal Anderson Park, the police listened, responded, and then reported back with what they did and what the results were. Too bad if people aren’t 100% pleased with the results…it’s not like anyone else is stepping up to the plate, and it certainly is better than nothing.

  37. I am a little concerned–given our ever-collapsing economic situation and the basic elimination of so many social supports, where do we expect the unemployed and most vulnerable to our culture’s excesses to land ?

    Where are they supposed to go ? Anywhere but not within our sight ?

    Is this just the tip of the iceburg ? Many, many social supports just recently evaporated or where defunded–is this just the calm before the storm.

    Prison and jail solutions are killing us economically.

    We cannot keep building prisons. We cannot expect to “arrest our way out” of the results of deep systemic social problems.

    I don’t know about you, but I see a level of desperation in the street I can’t recall in fifty years.

    So, you take your kids to the park, and you are so intimidated and repulsed by what you see, you are forced to action. (….yes, I was shocked recently too by young man clearly burnt out on drugs–and I was thinking, what is out there that can cause that level of damage to a person’s nervous system ?)

    Sure we pay taxes; however, clearly, that will not be a sustainable solution.

    Along with raising our expectations of services for our tax dollars, we better find a way to raise our ability to devise creative solutions of compassion.

    Many, many, many individuals will soon find themselves running out of the little they had to hang on by their fingernails–what can we offer them ?

    Where did we think the masses left out were going to go?

    Ask not for whom the bell tolls.

  38. The SPD are fools if they think this means a dip in the sales of pot around here, or if they think anyone appreciates these clowns ignoring the violent crime that is spreading in Cap Hill in favor of rounding up the stoners.

    Of course, it always could be worse in Cap Hill. The cops might have just killed them instead of arresting them.

  39. Calhoun wrote, “There is absolutely no question that abuse of the medical marijuana law is going on at some marijuana “dispensaries,” including the “clinic” at the recent Hempfest.”

    Those are bold claims. Do you have personal experience? Have you seen a rash of malpractice investigations by the state?

    “The Seattle Times reporter, Jonathan Martin, did not say that his back pain was “unrelieved” by standard treatments, only that he had used several approaches.”

    He also said that the pain persists. Do you think we should deny this man the use of the best medicine available for his condition?

    “The overall thrust of his article was that marijuana was very easy to obtain at such clinics, without previous medical records, by simply claiming certain things and paying a (substantial) fee.”

    That’s mostly like every doctor visit. What proof of pain would you have doctors require before authorizing the use of opiates? Before authorizing the use of cannabis?

    “It was announced a few days ago that the medical provider(s) at the Hempfest “clinic” is now being investigated for possible violations and possible revoking of his/her medical license.”

    Please cite your source.

  40. Calhoun wrote, “First of all, do you know with certainty that the two are being charged with a felony?”

    Captain Dermody’s press release, which Justin quoted, says so.

    Two people are being prosecuted for a felony crime that most people in this area think should be completely legal. My guess is that most of the rest think it should result in a fine. It’s ridiculously unjust that this is a felonious offense.

    “Initiative 75 did direct the SPD to give pot possession a low priority”

    It didn’t direct them to do anything. It made arrest and prosecution of adults for certain crimes the lowest law enforcement priority of our police and prosecutors. Those tasks are their lowest priority now. When our police and prosecutors prioritize those tasks above any other task, they are violating the law.

  41. Can’t he just cite the same source you did. The whole point of the Seattle Times article was that the reporter showed all you needed was cash and no medical condition. Whether he had pain or not is irrelevant yet you keep bringing it up.

  42. Eyes open wrote, “the one [officer’s dope arrest] I remember you commenting on the most was a bike cop who busted a dude for heroin…and you criticized that too and insinuated that the cop had no reason to talk to the guy because you didn’t see (based on the report) that the suspect was doing anything suspicious in your eyes.”

    I remember that post, too. The reason the cop cited for investigating the guy was that he was watching the cop busting people in the park, then gathered his things and left. There was no suspicious behavior reported. In the comments for that post, I wrote:

    In his incident report, Officer Brownlee wrote that as he and another officer finished citing someone for drinking alcohol in the park, he saw some other people look over at him a few times, then:

    “I observed _____ and _____ gather some unseen objects in both of their hands and get into an unlocked white 1997 Jeep Cherokee SUV CO/_____. I believed these actions to be suspicious, and I rode over to the parked Jeep to investigate further.”

    What could be considered suspicious about people in a park watching some cops doing cop stuff, then gathering up their things and getting in a vehicle? In the end, it turned out that they seem to have been doing things that they’re barred by law from doing, but that’s beside the point. If he thought they looked fishy and it’s acceptable to go question people who look fishy, then why write up the part about finding them gathering their things and leaving to be suspicious?

    Must we all to avert our eyes and stay where we are whenever police are in the area in order to avoid raising their suspicion and setting ourselves up for hassle?

    Did you read anything in that report that provided cause for the investigation?

    EO continued, “Now, did a bunch of officers go to Cal Anderson for the express purpose of busting a drug dealer?”

    No.

    “Do you really think they targeted pot dealers specifically, or is it more likely that they were just trolling for drug dealers and the ones they caught just happened to be selling pot?”

    I think they went in to make any drug busts they could, regardless of what the public wanted them to do. I think they spent the weekend trying to do so, and all they came up with were the two small-time distribution charges Dermody wrote about.

    “Why talk smack about Dermody? He probably looked at his lieutenants and said, “Clean it up.” His lieutenants then talked to the sergeants who probably said, “Everyone is in an uproar over Cal Anderson Park. The Captain says clean it up.” The sergeants in turn then put it on the officers and respective squads, and they go in… and clean it up.”

    First: I’m not “talking smack about Dermody.” Second: They didn’t clean it up. They just coerced two people into selling them small amounts of pot.

    “I fail to see how that makes it Dermody’s fault, unless of course, you expect him to say, “Clean it up EXCEPT for anything related to pot dealers dealing drugs in the park because that would make the pot advocates happier.”

    He shouldn’t have to say that. His staff should already know that in this city, we don’t think people should be punished for cannabis. Pete Holmes ran on the position that he would not prosecute another cannabis crime, and Tom “I cannot implement I-75” Carr was run out of town.

    “Too bad if people aren’t 100% pleased with the results… it’s not like anyone else is stepping up to the plate, and it certainly is better than nothing.”

    I don’t know who besides police you expect to step up to the law enforcement plate, but it seems that I have much higher standards for effective policing than you do. “Better than nothing” doesn’t cut it for the people who get to enforce public policy at gunpoint.

  43. In this city we don’t think people should be punished for possession or dealing? Can you clarify which part the public backed with I75?

  44. Of course it is. Have I ever lied to you before, dd?

    I bet you can use the google to verify that yourself. I don’t know the vote counts but the various google hits show 58 or 59 percent, and I’m willing to accept those as being approximately correct.

    For example, from the ACLU, 59% passage:
    http://www.aclu-wa.org/news/aclu-washington-hails-passage-se

    From the Seattle Times, 58% passage:
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002008398_h

    Either way, that’s quite a large majority in *any* election. Quick, somebody tell the cops. You know, the people whose salaries we’re paying.

  45. DD wrote, “In this city we don’t think people should be punished for possession or dealing?”

    Correct. Most of us do not think people should be punished for possession of cannabis or for distribution of it.

    “Can you clarify which part the public backed with I75?”

    I-75, making arrest and prosecution of adults for most cannabis-related crimes the lowest priority of our police and prosecutors (i.e., leaving it unlawful but arranging priorities so that there are no resources allocated to pursuing those crimes) passed with about 60% of the vote. 13 years later, polls show a majority of Washingtonians support ending the prohibition of cannabis. That number is undoubtedly higher for Seattle voters alone.

  46. …and again, you’re trying to turn this into a pot discussion. They were buy/bust operations, and I agree with you – they just netted a couple of low-level pot dealers. Ho-hum. Again, would have looked sexier if it had been a “harder” drug, or something less socially acceptable as pot.

    I can tell you’re baiting, and I’ve read enough of your stuff to know your patterns, but I’ll play along for a sec before bedtime.

    It’s still dealing drugs. Dealing drugs is still illegal. Keep on working to change the law. Based on Dermody’s press blitz, those officers did in fact conduct buy/bust operations – that DOES mean they were specifically in the park for the purpose of busting dope dealers, that’s what a buy/bust is. Again, I would argue they prolly didn’t go in with the intent of catching themselves a pot dealer specifically. To insinuate that the two suspects that were arrested were “coerced” into selling to the undercover cops is merely theatrics.

    So back on track to the original issue of people complaining about bike cop handlebar lengths and poo-pooing any police response to neighbor concerns…

    I’d say my standard for law enforcement is pretty high, but that doesn’t mean that I should spend all of my time criticizing, insinuating failures of, or divining the mental mindset of cops, or that I know more about police policy and procedure (both in theory and practice) then the people that actually do the job.

    Like I wrote previously, I don’t think people are tripping over themselves calling 911 for a ton of issues inside of Cal Anderson Park.

    Unless you’re arguing for 24/7 police presence inside of Cal Anderson (which I hope no one would actually WANT to see), the cops are going to allocate what free time they have to spots they know are really active – and that is dictated by crime stats, in fact, that’s how the precinct districts are zoned…by call volume. So unless there’s been documented upticks in 911 calls inside of the park (in contrast to officer-initiated activity), no, I don’t expect the cops to be all over the problem before it starts, since they derive a lot of their info based on what the citizens tell them. The cops NEED the public to talk to them about what actually is going on, and it is their responsibility to listen to, and address those concerns.

    Cal Anderson is the hot topic for now because of internet dialogue on blogs such as this one, social media, and a letter campaign to the mayor. However, I don’t think that we should gloss over the fact that the suspect that smashed the other kid’s head in was caught just the other night. There was a stabbing suspect caught at Cal Anderson just a few months ago (also featured in this blog). I think I remember reading something about a hatchet/knife wielding girl caught in Cal Anderson within the last 2 months.

    Feeling is not fact, but I think that SPD is actually doing a pretty good job addressing the perceptions…because perception is truth to the individual, regardless of what the hard stats say. Since this plan has only been in place for a couple of days, lets see how it all shakes out before condemning it.

    As far as the “stepping up to the plate comment,” I apologize, that was poorly worded. By stepping up to the plate, I mean that the park is a public resource. I’d bet beans to bucks that if a microscope was put on any other city park in Seattle, you’d see similar issues…just no one’s started a letter-writing campaign yet. It’s your responsibility, my repsonsibility, the public’s responsibility to be stewards of our public areas. If that means calling 911 when bad things are happening inside of the park, then do it. If that means (gasp) taking a stand and letting people that throw their syringes on the ground to pick them up and dispose of them properly, then maybe that’s what needs to happen. It’s unfair and elitist to expect someone to do it for you because you don’t do it for yourself, and then criticize how the job is done (that’s not directed at you personally, Phil).

    For me, I don’t really feel like abdicating my own personal responsibility to someone else to handle…I might not like the results, but since I didn’t do it myself, maybe there’s no room for me to complain.

    “Everyone” knows that the Cal Anderson Park bathrooms are shoot-up spots. It’s so common knowledge that the bathroom stalls have 1/2 doors so there is less privacy for IV users to hide. How many times have 911 calls been placed about drug activity in the bathrooms? You would think the problem would be solved since “everyone” knows it goes on. What’s the solution? That’s my point regarding “stepping up to the plate,” you have to get involved, or the complaining and hand-wringing is for naught.

    I still think it’s a positive that the SPD is addressing the perceived issue. Personally I think it’s a little overkill, and I’d argue there are a lot of other areas of the East Precinct that need more attention such as the CD, Yesler Terrace, Little Saigon – the traditionally underserved areas where not only is crime deep-rooted, but there are additional cultural and language barriers to work through. Unfortunately, no one from the Yesler Terrace has started a letter-writing campaign to the mayor yet, so maybe that’s what it’ll take.

    For now however, I’m going to bet that the crime suppression in the park will have temporary benefits, the troublemakers will not like the heat and move on to another area…and then we’ll be hearing about, oh I dunno, the planting strip on the backside of the QFC over by Neighbors, or that park over by the Starbucks on Olive Way.

  47. The links say the public supports making possession a low priority. It does not say anything about sales or growing being a low priority. The busts in the park were for dealing.

  48. Where are they supposed to go?

    Give them a free bus ticket across the country out to Seattle – that’s what other cities do. Make it Seattle’s problem and not theirs.

    It’s payback time I say. Send them back where they came from.

  49. Phil, I stand corrected…missed the part of Capt. Dermody’s statement that they were being charged with a felony. But I think it’s very likely that this will be plea-bargained down to a much lesser charge.

    And I agree completely that those arrested for low-level dealing of marijuana should not get a felony charge, except perhaps if they have prior arrests.

  50. Eyes open wrote, “again, you’re trying to turn this into a pot discussion.” Lots of discussions are likely to come out of this report. One of those surrounds the fact that part of our police response to reports of violent crime and a hypodermic needle in the park was to initiate an undercover operation which netted two arrests for distribution of cannabis in quantities too small to report. This particular thread of discussion is “a pot discussion.”

    “It’s still dealing drugs. Dealing drugs is still illegal.”

    Let’s not over-dramatize. We’ve yet to see the police report, and “dealing” implies more than that which has been reported via the associated press release. Passing a joint qualifies as distribution of a controlled substance.

    “To insinuate that the two suspects that were arrested were “coerced” into selling to the undercover cops is merely theatrics.”

    We’re just guessing until we read the police report and hear the other side, but I think it’s a very good guess that the two who were arrested weren’t walking around the park with a big “marijuana for sale” sign.

    “So back on track to the original issue of people complaining about bike cop handlebar lengths and poo-pooing any police response to neighbor concerns…”

    Let’s avoid the theatrics. I can’t speak for the person who complained about the over-brawny police bicycles. I’m not poo-pooing any response to neighbor concerns. I’m asserting very clearly that sending in undercover police to talk people into selling small quantities of cannabis is not helpful, and that charging them with felonies is completely out of line with our neighbors’ values.

    “I’s your responsibility, my repsonsibility, the public’s responsibility to be stewards of our public areas. If that means calling 911 when bad things are happening inside of the park, then do it. If that means (gasp) taking a stand and letting people that throw their syringes on the ground to pick them up and dispose of them properly, then maybe that’s what needs to happen.”

    I completely agree.

    For years, every time someone complains of finding needles in the park, I’ve suggested installing sharps containers so that there will be a safe place to dispose of them. Has that happened?

    “I’d say my standard for law enforcement is pretty high”

    So your standard is not “better than nothing” as you implied in your earlier comment?

    “but that doesn’t mean that I should spend all of my time criticizing, insinuating failures of, or divining the mental mindset of cops”

    Sure. But it’s your civic duty to spend some of your time evaluating and critiquing the actions of our police. They work for us. Of course, we’ll rely on the expertise for which we hired them, but that doesn’t mean we should look the other way when they make mistakes (particularly when they try to hide those mistakes from us).

    These people are entrusted to enforce public policy at gunpoint. They deserve more scrutiny than any of our other public servants. They have clearly demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to self-police, making it all the more important that we scrutinize their actions. Doing so is essential to maintaining public safety.

  51. Whatever the severity of the charge, calhoun, we can be sure that Capitol Hill is a better place with those nefarious pot sellers behind bars, eh?

  52. “Correct. Most of us do not think people should be punished for possession of cannabis or for distribution of it.”

    You need to cite your source for this statement. Please don’t use I75 as evidence either because every link that has been referenced here on I75 does not show the public supports drug dealing.

  53. I have the same question as dd, Phil. You repeatedly say that “most of us” think that pot possession and dealing should be decriminalized…possibly possession only, but not dealing, which is a whole other thing. I-75, to my knowledge, only had to do with possession, for individual use.

    Please cite your source for your “most of us” statements.

  54. Yes, indeed, Phil…that is the article that was my source for the comment I made. I was going to post it today, but you beat me to it, so thanks!

    Many people…perhaps the majority of adults…have some degree of back pain off and on. Usually, it is relatively minor and managed by “tincture of time,” over-the-counter analgesics in perfectly safe doses (acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc), and things like heat/cold applications. I think this is probably the type of pain experienced by the Seattle Times’ reporter, Jonathan Martin…nowhere in his initial article did he say his pain was not under good control. Yes, he said his pain recurs, but this is typical of most back pain. It cannot be “cured” no matter what treatment modality is chosen. Very few people with back pain require things like opiates, surgery, or to be zoned out with marijuana.

    Mr. Martin’s medical condition is not that of “intractable pain” or a “debilitating condition,” yet he easily obtained a marijuana authorization at the Hempfest “clinic.” The point of his article was that people are getting authorizations for very spurious reasons, and this is why the State Dept of Health has begun an investigation.

  55. ACLU-WA has been polling this topic for years. This year, they loaned their drug policy director Alison Holcomb to the New Approach Washington campaign, who are collecting signatures for Initiative 502, which would make cannabis legal for adults in Washington State, and have it sold through state-licensed stores. They’re doing this because the time is right; their research indicates that the majority of Washingtonians now support ending cannabis prohibition.

    I don’t have a link to their information. I’ll check on it.

    In the meantime, I can quote some notes I took at an ACLU-WA drug policy summit I attended last year with drug policy leaders from all over the nation. Blair Butterworth (Seattle-area political strategist, oversaw Gary Locke’s campaigns, chief consultant to Death with Dignity campaign) informed attendees that recent poling showed:

    2006: Re: Make MJ legal, went up about 4% after related questions, to a little over 40% legalize/decriminalize/continue-prohibition: question 9: 37/30/29, then again at Q51 40/34/22 leg/decrim/cont
    2007: Around 60-70% believe WA should set own policies
    2008: Continue to send to jail, make finable non-crim, or make legal for adults? legalize: 33, decrim: 33, cont: 25, don’t know: 10%
    2010: State lawmakers considering making MJ possession legal. Good idea or bad? good: 56%, bad: 36%, unsure: 8. Considering selling in state-run liquor stores & taxing. Good idea? good: 54, bad: 43, not sure: 3

    Support in King County, particularly in Seattle, for ending prohibition is always higher than it is state-wide.

  56. I checked with Mark Cooke, Drug Policy Advocate at ACLU-WA, who suggested “Legalize It,” by Dominic Holden, The Stranger, June 21, 2011, and offered to get me more information when he’s in the office tomorrow.

    In that article, Holden wrote:

    PUBLIC OPINION Support for legalizing marijuana has grown for decades, reaching majority support only recently in certain national polls. Even so, in California last year, a poorly worded, underfunded measure to decriminalize pot failed with only 46 percent of the vote. In Washington State, polls show that a slim majority of voters support legalization and taxation, while the number opposed to legalization and taxation is more than 10 points lower. New Approach Washington hopes to convince undecided voters to support the initiative and capitalize on the young, robust voter turnout in a presidential year—and, potentially, draw more progressive voters to the polls. After meeting with statewide labor groups, campaign director Alison Holcomb says, “There is a recognition that this initiative provides a great opportunity for progressive organizations leading into the 2012 elections.”

  57. I thought it was well known (and widely agreed to on this blog) that the Stranger is not a credible source of information and it was restricted from being referenced. Not to mention that it has no influence in politics after the tunnel vote.

  58. I realize you are being sarcastic…but, yes, if the word gets out on the street that the SPD has taken seriously the complaints about Cal Anderson Park, and that they are conducting buy-bust operations there (as well as other measures outlined by Capt. Dermody)….then the problems there will diminish, and at least the park will be a safer place for those who wish to hang out there, including families and children.

    As for the two who were arrested, they must have been selling a fairly large amount of pot, since they were charged with a felony. But I doubt they will spend any time behind bars, unless they had prior records.

  59. Calhoun wrote, “As for the two who were arrested, they must have been selling a fairly large amount of pot, since they were charged with a felony.

    That’s incorrect. In Washington State, cultivation, delivery or sale of marijuana of any amount is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. Passing a joint to a friend is a felony.

    Furthermore, if it was a large amount, I’m confident that the police would have reported such. That’s the way it works.

    “But I doubt they will spend any time behind bars, unless they had prior records.”

    They’re facing felony prosecution for something that the majority of Washingtonians think should be completely legal, and even a misdemeanor marijuana possession conviction comes with mandatory minimum jail time in our state.

  60. Phil, you said you would provide a link to the ACLU polling which you claim says the majority of Washingtonians support an end to marijuana prohibition. Please do so…I would like to read this information. It will be interesting to see exactly what questions were asked. My guess is that a majority might support ending prosecution for individual possession/use, but not an end to the prosecution of dealers. Of course, if I-502 gets enough signatures for the ballot in 2012, this will become moot, as people could buy pot in stores, thereby putting dealers out of business.

    It’s far from a certainty that I-502 will get enough signatures, and it’s also doubtful it will be approved by voters state-wide (which is far different than if it was for Seattle only). Then there’s the “little” matter of the feds’ classification of pot as a class I controlled substance and the fact that it’s illegal…certainly the feds will not stand by and allow I-502 to take effect, even if it’s approved.