A high-ranking Seattle police officer has been charged with domestic violence after allegedly hitting his wife during an argument. But there are many aspects to the story that are worth noting. First, praise should be given for the department reacting swiftly and correctly in this case:
Lowe was arrested Saturday night after officers responded to a report of a domestic-violence incident, the Seattle police statement said.
At the direction of Deputy Chief Nick Metz, Capt. Neil Low went to the scene, relieved Lowe of duty and took his badge and gun.
Although the preliminary investigation was conducted by Seattle police, Police Chief John Diaz has directed that an outside agency — still to be determined — conduct the criminal investigation, according to the statement. The department’s Office of Professional Accountability will monitor the criminal investigation and, once it concludes, begin its own internal inquiry.
That’s good so far. But it turns out that Lowe has a rather checkered past:
His 2008 DUI arrest attracted attention because he was allowed to supervise a Seattle police security detail at President Obama’s inauguration in January 2009, even though the arrest had taken place Nov. 23, 2008.
Lowe had been stopped on Interstate 5 in South Seattle by a State Patrol trooper. A blood-alcohol test administered to Lowe about an hour after the stop registered 0.113 percent, above the state’s legal limit of 0.08 percent for those over 21, according to a State Patrol report.
Lowe pleaded guilty to an amended charge of reckless driving in June 2009. Under a deferred sentence, that charge was dismissed in 2011 after he completed alcohol-information school, probation, community service and other terms.
It was not clear Sunday how the Police Department dealt internally with the case…
In another matter, Lowe received a written reprimand after the department found he entered a jail cell in June 2006 and made inappropriate physical contact with his son, then 13, who had been arrested for allegedly obstructing officers and was handcuffed.
The boy alleged his father punched him and pushed him against a wall. Lowe told internal investigators he grabbed the boy by his sweatshirt and pulled him up from a bench in a way that was “not gentle,” police records show.
The City Attorney’s Office declined to bring charges, citing proof problems and a parent’s right to discipline a child, according to the records.
Also, Lowe received an oral reprimand after entering a private home in 2002 to try to recover nude photographs of a female relative from a man who reportedly had been romantically involved with her.
In 2007, a citizen-review-board report cited that case as one of several in which then-Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske reduced disciplinary findings.
The civilian director at that time of the department’s Office of Professional Accountability had recommended findings of misuse of authority and violation of rules, regulations and laws, the board said. Kerlikowske reached a lesser finding, concluding that the officer engaged in conduct unbecoming an officer, the report said.
So we have drunk driving, multiple counts of domestic violence, and abusing his authority with an illegal entry and search. Despite all that, he was put in charge of a police detail that dealt with security at Obama’s inauguration and in charge of a task force to make changes in response to a federal case that has found a terrible track record of police misconduct, brutality and racist law enforcement in the Seattle PD. And guess who was the chief of police during all of that? Gil Kerlikowske, who was named by Obama to be his drug czar.