With everyone from city council members to the Seattle Times editorial board questioning his "public safety" bona fides, Mayor Mike McGinn yesterday took a step closer to naming a new police chief.
Included on the just-released list of 11 semi-finalists is Adam Burden, an eyebrow-raising choice given his record. Burden most recently served as deputy for several years to Miami's chief of police, John Timoney, the guy our sun-baked colleagues at Miami New Times called "America's Worst Cop."
Timoney's six-year tenure was marked by acrimony with the local police union and other controversies, not least of which was a high-profile lawsuit brought against himself, Burden, and other highly placed members of the department in the aftermath of Miami's own version of the WTO protests.
Even before Timoney took the job, Burden was in trouble, having been accused by one of his former subordinates of sexual harassment.In 2002, Felicia Brown accused Burden, then just a Major, of feeling her up multiple times and making unwanted sexual advances. Brown also alleged that after filing a complaint with the department, she was forced to work solo late-night shifts in one of the more dangerous areas of Miami. Her attorney, Charles Baron, says the suit was eventually settled, but a confidentiality agreement prevents him from disclosing the sum.
The next year saw Miami play host to the Free Trade Area of the Americas protests. According to court documents, around 2500 Miami police officers in full riot gear opened up a can of Norm Stamper-brand whup-ass on the estimated 12,000 protesters gathered in downtown Miami. Police used bean-bag guns, rubber-bullets, pepper spray, and metal batons to "herd" protesters out of the area, said the plaintiffs.
Timoney--who was caught referring to protesters as "pussies"--later came under fire for his heavy-handed tactics. According to the plaintiffs, Burden was on-site during the incident, though it's unclear from court documents what role he played in forming Timoney's plan.
The city eventually shelled out $160,000 in settlement for, among other things, violating the protester's constitutional right to free speech. Of course, that's walking around money compared to the $1 million in damages Seattle paid to the 175 protesters who said they were wrongly arrested during the 1999 WTO protest.
By 2009 by both Timoney and Burden were out of jobs, the latter choosing retirement over demotion after the new Mayor, Tomas Regalado, replaced his boss.
Burden obviously misses the work. Or maybe he just doesn't want his time under Timoney to define the closing act of his career in law enforcement. Whatever the case, Seattle's 26-member police chief selection committee is scheduled to hand the Mayor's office a list of three finalists by May 11.
The Mayor's office announced today that Burden has withdrawn his name from consideration. According to a just released statement, Burden told Mayor McGinn that due to a recent surgical procedure, he will be unable to give a full effort to the interview process.
Burden wasn't the first to drop out. Last week, Judy Bagshaw, chief of the De Moines police department, opted to stay in Iowa. The 9 remaining candidates will be interviewed later this week.