How to decide who gets to suffer the misery of Seattle cop Randy Jokela? Flip a coin.
It seems that Jokela either has the best nose for dope in all of Seattle, or he doesn’t care who suffers for his dislike of Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, who has been a strong supporter of marijuana legalization. Either way, Jokela has been a remarkably productive cop:
In a Wednesday afternoon blotter post, Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said she reassigned the officer to administrative duty after learning that he had written nearly 80 percent of all the marijuana tickets issued in Seattle between January 1 and June 30.
Sources confirm to KOMO News the officer’s name is Randy Jokela.
While the use of marijuana has been legalized in Washington State, it remains subject to a civil fine for smoking in public. And weirdly enough, 80% of those smoking in public happened to do so in the vicinity of Jokela.
Even more weirdly, it took until June 1st, when somebody in the Seattle police department decided it was a good time to pay attention to what their officers were doing, to notice. On the bright side, once Chief O’Toole learned what her officer was doing, she acted upon it. Jokela was taken off his big wheel and put on administrative duty. He is also “the subject of an investigation by the Office of Professional Accountability, ‘which [will] review the officer’s conduct and professionalism.'” Because flipping a coin to decide who gets the ticket requires a lengthy investigation.
But aside from the suffering inflicted by this pot-vigilante, his antagonism toward Holmes appeared to be a significant part of the message he was sending as he flagrantly abused his authority.
In many cases, O’Toole said the officer added notes on the tickets requesting the attention of Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes. Holmes, who has been a vocal supporter of marijuana legalization, is referred to in many of the tickets as “Petey Holmes.”
In a statement released Wednesday night, Holmes said he’s grateful that O’Toole is looking into the matter.
This raises the question of whether Jokela abused his authority because of his personal disagreement with the law (because, of course, a police officer’s job is to enforce the law to the extent he agrees with it), or to smack Holmes in the face as a political statement. The fact that the people on the receiving end of Jokela’s tickets, 36% black in a community with only an 8% black population, and 46% homeless, paid the price for Jokela’s protest didn’t appear to concern him at all.
But did it concern Seattle City Attorney Holmes?
“I am personally very sorry that apparently a significant number of homeless individuals were inconvenienced by an officer’s apparent attempt to get at me. But I’m really sorry that our citizens were unnecessarily inconvenienced,” the statement reads.
He’s not just sorry, but “really sorry.” Because they were “inconvenienced,” just like the rest of us when a customer service rep in Manilla oozes concern for our broken widget before informing us that there’s nothing they can do.
Granted, Jokela’s tickets were for civil fines, and he wasn’t tossing the homeless to the ground for a quick tune-up before a night of cheese sandwiches and feces, but it’s nonetheless a seizure, a violation of their right to be left alone, and affront to the dignity of a person who has done nothing wrong, even if they have committed the crimes of being black or homeless. Or worse, both. And let’s not even get into the question of perjury.
The Seattle police chief took action against this, when it came to her attention. That’s good, as she had a rogue cop on her hands and she didn’t excuse him or sweep his conduct under the rug. That it took six months before anybody realized they had a rogue cop on their hands, however, is a problem. A lot of harm can be done in six months.
Did no one in the Seattle police department know what Jokela was doing? Did no one care? It seems impossible that one cop could write 80% of the pot tickets without somebody, somewhere (as in whatever office handles these tickets) noticing.
Marijuana legalization, whether in Washington or elsewhere, is bound to create some cognitive dissonance in police. After all, how do you spend a career hating pot smokers, only to one day cease tossing them against the wall as law-abiding citizens? Yet, it can’t take six months for a police department to figure out they have a rogue cop on their hands, a vigilante, who is using his shield to promote his personal anger and political hatred over the law.
A cop’s job is to enforce the law, whether he likes it or not. And a chief’s job is to make sure none of her cops have gone rogue. And a City Attorney’s job is to understand that being a victim of a rogue cop is not merely an inconvenience. But at least they pulled Jokela once they realized he went rogue. It may not be enough, but it’s better than nothing.