*When Termination is a Must!
There are certainly several examples of police officers who have been allowed to resign amidst allegations of inappropriate behavior, controversial uses of force, findings or admissions of wrong doing and instability on various police departments.
Cleveland Police Officer Tim Loehmann was allowed to resign from Independence Police Department (PD) only to later join Cleveland PD where he shot and killed 12-yr old Tamir Rice; Darren Wilson was first fired by Jennings Police Department, then hired by Ferguson PD where he fatally shot Mike Brown and then allowed to tender his resignation; and former California Highway Patrol officer Andrew Daniel was also allowed to “resign after he was videotaped beating a grandmother on the side of a Los Angeles freeway MMA- style.
On Deck – Seattle Police Officer Cynthia Whitlach.
Last summer Officer Cynthia Whitlach falsely arrested 69-yr old William Wingate for allegedly swinging a golf club at her patrol vehicle. Wingate was charged and eventually pled guilty to unlawfully using a weapon in a deal that would cause the charges to be dismissed after two years; if Wingate had no other convictions.
Why would Wingate pled guilty to committing an act which he vehemently denied as shown by the police dash cam? Maybe because Wingate is not really a criminal and “coping a plea” seemed like the easiest way to end the nightmare. Have you ever been on trial? Do you have any idea what it must feel like to face jail time? Ever had a public defender who assured you that a plea deal is in your best interest to avoid jail? What if you’re a young person – just starting out and can’t afford a felony conviction; so you agree to cop -a -plea to a misdemeanor conviction with the promise of dismissal from your record in a few years. Perhaps you have never been to prison and decide not to roll the dice on the hope that a jury of your peers would be able to see through the institutionalized racism and disparity in the judicial system. Pick one – any one reason. I don’t know why Wingate pled guilty – however, Wingate was eventually convicted.
Somehow, a local lawmaker questioned Wingate’s arrest which then prompted the city attorney’s office to take another look. Thankfully, a video dash cam revealed that Officer Whitlach, a white woman, lied when she accused Wingate, a black man, of swinging the club at her police vehicle. In the video Whitlach can be heard yelling repeatedly at Wingate that the incident was being recorded which makes what happened next mind-boggling. Whitlach continued to shout things that just were not true. The police dash cam eventually demonstrated that Whitlach had lied and Wingate’s conviction was dismissed.
For the lie, and false arrest Officer Whitlach received a slap on the wrist; she was “counseled” by her supervisor. A penalty that Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole deemed appropriate . If lying and falsely arresting a citizen isn’t grounds for dismissal – what is?
Apparently on the Seattle Police Department, a police officer can straight out lie, deprive you of your liberty, subject you to incarceration, wrongfully convict you and the “appropriate” administrative remedy is “counseling?” It appears this is not Whitlach’s first time being over zealous with a citizen
Talk about circling the wagons. Failure to Act. Lack of Accountability. Protect and Serve. But whom? Protect the officers and serve the public a load of you know what.
It wasn’t until Officer Whitlach’s Facebook rant surfaced, that Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole began to experience a little angst. Don’t you love social media? Officer Whitlach posted this on her Facebook page shortly after Wingate’s arrest:
If you believe that blacks are NOT accusing white America for their problems then you are missing the point of the riots in Ferguson and the chronic black racism in this country. I am tired of black peoples paranoia that white people are out to get them. I am tired of hearing a black racist tell me the only reason they are being contacted is because they are black solely because I am NOT black. I am tired of black people saying poor poor me when other races and genders and homeless and gays sufer far more prejudice than any black man does in the US.
In a written statement, Chief O’Toole said she was ‘shocked and disappointed’ to read Whitlach’s comments. Apparently that little counselling session had done little to dissuade Officer Whitlach from her errant behavior. Rather, it would appear that Whitlach was empowered by the menial response by her department to the false reporting and false arrest of Wingate. Are we to believe that this is the first time Whitlach made disparaging remarks about blacks?
While O’Toole might be shocked – I’m not. But I am outraged. William Wingate is a senior citizen who is certainly deserving of the utmost respect just because of his time here on this earth. My guess is that Mr. Wingate is a father; a grand father; someone’s brother. Certainly not deserving of the treatment he received at the hands of the Seattle Police Department. To subject Wingate to being handcuffed, tossed about in the back of a police car, made to suffer the indignity of the booking process into a penal institution, incarceration and conviction is unconscionable.
Wingate’s experience is further exacerbated by the fact that Seattle Police Officer Cynthia Whitlach knew that the incident was being memorialized on her car’s dash cam and she did not have the impulse control to just stop the charade. She continued to manufacture that probable cause for that fake arrest. Whitlach screamed repeatedly for the audio portion of the video things that she knew were false. She did so for the audio and for the passersby who might be questioned later during an internal affairs investigation. Surely anyone within ear shot of Whitlach would report that they heard the officer asking Wingate why he swung the golf club at her. Much like police officers who yell “stop hitting me” or “stop reaching for my gun” when none of that is occurring.
Police officers who knowingly and admittedly lie are of no use to their police department. Police officers who are proven liars can’t testify in court in criminal proceedings. Police officers who are proven liars should be FIRED; not allowed to resign. There should be a special place on hell for any police officer who abuses their authority by knowingly depriving a citizen of their liberty.
Currently, Seattle Police Officer Cynthia Whitlach seats behind a desk and away from the public. Let’s not hold our breath as we wait for a just penalty for Whitlach’s latest transgression. If an officer who lies, falsely arrests and knowingly deprives a citizen of their freedom receives counseling; what happens when an officer goes on a purported racist Facebook rant? Will Police Officer Cynthia Whitlach live to offend again? – on a different police department?
Time for police chiefs and commissioners to stop minimizing and mitigating bad behavior.
Time to remove those bad apples who give the entire law enforcement profession a bad rep.
Time for the community of Seattle, Washington to contact Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole and Seattle’s Office of Professional Accountability to demand that they FIRE CYNTHIA WHITLACH!!! Let’s make sure Whitlach isn’t “missing the point”.
I know that those [few] police officers who commit abuse under the color of authority are the minority but we seem to hear from them the majority of the time.
Cheryl Dorsey is a retired LAPD sergeant, speaker, and much sought after police expert on important issues making national headlines; as such she has appeared as a guest expert on the Dr. Phil Show, HLN and KPCC. She writes and provides commentary on police culture and surviving police encounters. She is the author of The Creation of a Manifesto, Black & Blue; an autobiography that pulls the covers of the LAPD and provides an unfiltered look into the department’s internal processes. Visit Cheryl’s website www.cheryldorsey.net., listen to her on Soundcloud follow on Twitter @retLAPDsgt
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”~JFK