Seattle, WA – The Seattle police chief opted not to fire an officer who took a chair and sat in front of an AutoZone waiting for a citizen who had insulted him to apologize.
The incident occurred on Feb. 10, 2018 after a man and his girlfriend insulted Seattle Police Sergeant Frank Poblocki during an altercation about towing the man’s car, the Seattle Times reported.
Bodycam video from after the incident showed that the 47-year-old Sgt. Poblocki felt that he had been disrespected, and he wanted an apology.
“Some guy called me a ho and a bitch,” he explained to a guy walking his dog in the video.
Sgt. Poblocki said he planned to stay put until he got an apology, the Seattle Times reported.
So the sergeant took a chair from the office and sat in front of the AutoZone, where the man worked, for 40 minutes in full uniform while he was on duty, with his police SUV running in a parking space nearby, the video showed.
Sgt. Poblocki, a 19-year veteran of the police force, explained to another officer who stopped by and some passersby that he was there waiting for the apology and what the man had said to him. He also said he was engaging in “community policing.”
Initially, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best demoted the sergeant for his antics, and gave him 10 days off without pay, the Seattle Times reported.
But not long after Officer Poblocki’ s initial suspension, the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) opened yet another investigation, this time into the statements then-Sgt. Poblocki had made during the course of the initial investigation.
When that investigation was finished, Officer Poblocki was given another 30-day suspension, the most serious discipline Chief Best could hand out short of termination, the Seattle Times reported.
Chief Best wrote that the investigation had found the officer was dishonest and that he had misrepresented his motives during interviews with OPA investigators when he claimed his purpose for going to the AutoZone car-parts store was to do “preventative maintenance,” interact with “people in the plaza,” and be “approachable.”
Then-Sgt. Poblocki told the OPA that he hadn’t gone to the AutoZone to get an apology and that he had “no intention of initiating contact” with the man he claimed had disrespected him.
Many people expressed surprise that Chief Best did not terminate Officer Poblocki given that Seattle Police Department policy assumes an officer will be fired for dishonesty in their official duties, the Seattle Times reported.
The city’s contract with the Seattle Police Officers Guild even explicitly states what the punishment for the crime will be.
“In the case of an officer receiving a sustained complaint involving dishonesty in the course of the officer’s official duties or relating to the administration of justice, a presumption of termination shall apply,” the union’s contract read.
Chief Best defended her decision under fire and said it was the “right thing to do” give the options OPA had given her.
However, the chief wouldn’t go into further detail because Officer Poblocki has appealed the suspension, the Seattle Times reported.
“We’ll have to wait for the appeal to play out and see where it lands,” she said.
Police documents showed that Officer Poblocki had previously been suspended, twice, for improper citizen contacts, according to the Seattle Times.
Additional records revealed that Sgt. Poblocki had compared himself to Sean Penn’s character in the movie “Colors” before he headed to the AutoZone that day.
The OPA’s civilian director, Andrew Myerberg, wrote in his summary report of the incident that it was disturbing because the movie “concerns a young police officer dealing with gang activity in Los Angeles. The officer, who is nicknamed ‘Pac Man,’ aggressively and violently interacts with gang members and is, accordingly, notorious throughout the neighborhood,” the Seattle Times reported.