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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 19, 2008 at 3:55 PM

Police oversight

Don’t trump our rights

Metropolitan King County Council members Julia Patterson and Bob Ferguson have taken a principled and distinguished stand in opposing the labor agreement with the King County sheriff’s deputies [“Deputies could face civilian oversight,” News, Nov. 12].

Contracts with public-employee unions should not undermine an American citizen’s 4th Amendment right to due process. These contracts should not undermine the community’s right to establish and vigilantly maintain effective police-oversight commissions.

Police powers of arrest, detainment and use of physical harm are extremely potent. Anyone who finds himself detained by the police is in for a trying and expensive ordeal, even if innocent. Once arrested, the judicial system is costly and the nature of the charge can cast a wide shadow of societal ostracism.

Even if there were no history of police malfeasance, our public servants, i.e., the Metropolitan King County Council, have a duty to each King County resident to insure those we hire to protect us are not using their immense authority in less than the professional manner expected of them.

Citizens should not forget there are times when police officers and deputies have lied to protect themselves from deserved prosecution. Effective police oversight should never trump constitutional rights.

— Patrick Burns, Seattle

Comments | More in King County Council, Public safety

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