In 2002, Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske publicly reprimanded an officer for being rude to a group of young jaywalkers. His tough message was viewed as overkill by rank-and-file officers and led to a no-confidence vote, says the Seattle Times. Now Kerlikowske is under fire for allegedly being too lenient. A citizen-review board has found that the chief improperly interfered with an internal investigation and then cleared two officers of serious allegations of misconduct before all the facts were known.
In a string of cases over the last several years, the chief has reversed or watered down the conclusions of internal investigators and the civilian director who oversees their work. Those decisions represent a marked shift from his first years on the job. Kerlikowske has defended his decisions, noting he has fired several officers and been upheld in appeals. Kerlikowski was criticized early on by Mayor Greg Nickels, but Nichols became one of the chief’s staunchest allies, defending him from criticisms by police officers, the police union and, this week, the citizen-review board.