SEATTLE (KING5) -- After a rash of violence last spring in Skyway, a community south of Seattle, the King County Sheriff's Office decided to start running emphasis patrols to increase police visibility and arrest lawbreakers.
But the e-mail sent by newly promoted Captain Theodore Boe to the rank and file about the overtime operation has sparked allegations of racial profiling. Critics say the e-mail also encourages officers to use force where it might not be necessary.
In the e-mail dated Tuesday, May 13, Capt. Boe stated: "This overtime will be an emphasis designed to kick ass and take names in the K8 (Skyway district of King County's Precinct 4)." Boe wrote that that he expects anyone signing up for the operation to be busy for the entire five hours.
"Bad guys get contacted and go to jail for anything, period," he said.
Charles Gaither, who was hired to increase oversight of the sheriff's office and help crack down on deputy misconduct, said that he finds the e-mail alarming.
"Am I a bad guy? If I'm driving my car, slowly driving my car at 10 o'clock at night, am I a bad guy? Does that give you a reason to stop me? The justification to stop me or anyone else should be based on the law, not on how I look or whether I'm perceived as a bad guy," Gaither said.
In his e-mail, Boe said that only deputies who had completed eight hours of gang awareness training could take part in the operation.
The e-mail raised enough eyebrows that some deputies brought it to the attention of the ACLU of Washington.
ACLU Deputy Director Jennifer Shaw termed the e-mail "outrageous" and said, "In this situation you're talking about sending armed police officers into a community and telling them the reason they are out there is to kick ass on certain people, sounds to me like, in addition to a call for racial profiling, it's a call for use of force," Shaw said.
The King County Sheriff disagrees. He said the emphasis patrols were done at the request of the Skyway community and that officers were not engaged in racial profiling.
But Urquhart did object to how the e-mail was worded. "I don't think it's appropriate…to talk about kicking ass and taking names in an e-mail that obviously became public," he said.
Urquhart said he spoke to Captain Boe's supervisor and "it's been corrected."
According to reports provided to KING 5 by the King County Sheriff, the PSP "problem solving project" that led to the emphasis patrols resulted in dozens of arrests, including many suspected gang members, for crimes ranging from robbery to drugs and outstanding warrants.
The sheriff says his deputies were NOT engaging in racial profiling. However he is meeting with the ACLU this Wednesday to hear their concerns.
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