More than seven months ago, the United States Department of Justice opened a civil-rights investigation into the Seattle Police Department because SPD kept doing things like this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and this.
So what did SPD do when one of its officers made some unflattering comments in the presence of federal investigators? According to a letter send by the DOJ, the department punished him with "retaliatory" busy work.
Seattle Times reporter Steve Miletich has the scoop, following a public-records request.
The Justice Department, which opened a civil-rights investigation of Seattle police in March, sent a pointed letter to police officials in June requesting that officers be told they should not fear reprisals for speaking candidly when interviewed in the investigation.
"Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that SPD has taken actions that could be viewed as intimidating, retaliatory or harmful against an officer for comments that officer made to a consultant of the Department of Justice," federal attorneys wrote. "We take this action very seriously and find it deeply troubling."
The DOJ wrote its letter after Officer Ernest DeBella Jr. was apparently critical of department brass during a ride-along interview with a DOJ official. After the police department got wind of DeBella Jr.'s critical comments, SPD Assistant Chief Mike Sanford apparently ordered the patrol officer to make a "slide show" on police leadership.
This slideshow--which was never presented--was also critical of SPD leaders.
It's unclear if DeBella was further admonished for his slideshow.
After the DOJ sent its stern letter, SPD apparently sent a department-wide e-mail to officers telling that in fact it was OK to speak freely with federal investigators.