For more than a year, the King County Prosecutor’s office in Seattle on its own has tracked police officers and sheriff’s deputies known to have credibility problems and has painstakingly compiled a list, the Seattle Times reports. So far, the list includes 11 names – four current Seattle police officers and seven current or former sheriff’s deputies. A review of disciplinary records and court files involving these officers reveals a host of issues that could threaten the prosecution of alleged criminals. Some of the officers lied. One destroyed documents. One used racial epithets. Another threatened to kill someone.
That county prosecutors have built the list themselves illustrates the haphazard way prosecutors learn about officers whose credibility on the witness stand can be attacked. All too often, from the prosecutors’ point of view, they find out about problems just before trial, or during trial or plea bargaining, and they feel blindsided, unable to shore up weaknesses in their cases. Seattle Deputy Police Chief Clark Kimerer said the department does give prosecutors the names of officers with honesty issues. However, none of the names of Seattle police officers on the prosecutor’s list came from the department. None of the names of sheriff’s deputies was provided by the Sheriff’s Office. Officer credibility and its impact on public safety have become a high-profile issue in Seattle after an investigation into the actions of two bicycle cops who were accused of mistreating and planting drugs on a convicted drug dealer they arrested in January.