Mayor Mike McGinn's Subjects Have Spoken: Choose the Police Chief Your Own Damn Self

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Nobody wanted to help pick this guy either.
Caleb linked this morning to a post from the guy who runs SeattleCrime.com, who found himself practically an audience of one last night at the first public meeting of Mayor McGinn's 26-member Seattle Police Chief Search Committee. So much for our city's worship of "community input."

We might be surprised and appalled by the community's indifference--except that the exact same thing happened the last time Seattle was looking for a police chief.

Back then, a 22-member panel (there's been panel-creep) also held public hearings to find out what qualities the citizenry wanted from a new police chief. And again--nobody showed. As the P-I reported at the time: "[The] panel has held nearly a dozen forums around the city....Turnout has been poor, with fewer than a dozen residents attending each of the meetings, including one for rank-and-file police officers."

And this was just a few months after the WTO riots of November 1999. The police chief, Norm Stamper, had resigned in disgrace, and the city was probably was more exercised about police behavior than anytime in decades. But no one showed.

Why? Because it's an idiotic exercise and a charade. People like to bellyache in the moment. They fill out complaint forms when they're pissed. They're not going to respond to a survey that abstractly asks: "What qualities would you like to see in a flight attendant/customer service representative/waiter/police chief?"

There's such a thing as too much democracy and sometimes you just want your leaders to make the decision and stop posing questions to which you don't have any answers. Obviously we don't want a police chief who's an incompetent racist. Beyond that, most of us don't have any more input to offer than we do over the choice of Transportation Chief or the Head of Parks. That's what we elected you to do, Mike.

 
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