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Interim SPD Chief singing and dancing in video mocking the homeless

SEATTLE — A pre-emptive strike against potential bad press by the Seattle Police Department.

It involves a video but it’s not what you might think.

It is a music video made more than two and a half decades ago in which interim police chief Jim Pugel and a handful of other officers are seen mocking the homeless.

Pugel says it was his decision to come forward with the video.

He says after he was tapped to become  interim chief he was asked if there was anything out there that would embarrass the department or the profession and he said yes, putting into motion a sequence of events that would make the video public for the first time since 1986.

It was an attempt at humor to be viewed at the end of a roll call video training presentation more than 26 years ago.

Interim Chief Jim Pugel is seen in a tan v-sweater and fake beard.

“The attempt at humor clearly was wrong and again I’m deeply sorry for it but I own it,” interim SPD Chief Jim Pugel.

Pugel was a 26 year old officer, on the job for about 4 years.

“I certainly could have said no, but I didn’t.  It was immature. Clearly it wasn’t a good idea,” Pugel said.

Pugel says when, then, police Chief Patrick Fitzsimon got wind of the video he called everyone involved into his office chewed them out and ordered all copies of the video destroyed.

Clearly that didn’t happen.

“I apologize to all those people I serve, to those I work with on a daily basis in the community and I just ask their forgiveness,” Pugel said.

To view the video, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=odp-SM_mMI0#at=181

Pugel is a longtime supporter of Seattle’s homeless community.

He says many of them have seen the video or know about it already and he says he talked with chief Diaz and mayor McGinn and the department’s independent monitor.

The video has clearly weighed heavy on him and he seems to feel some guilt over his participation.

He decided to go public because he doesn’t want anything else to hurt the department, especially during what is a challenging time already.

“I don’t want to be the cause or the issue that prevents us from moving forward so that’s why I brought it forward.  I promised the media, I promised my officers, I promised the command staff that I would be open and honest and approach things head on,” Pugel said.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn released a statement late this evening about the video saying: Chief Pugel brought the video to our attention when the mayor asked him to serve as acting chief.

Chief Pugel made the right call to share the video and to apologize.

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15 comments

  • Jeff

    Are we ever going to get serious about the sloths that are roaming our streets? This is pathetic! The homeless need to be in place where they can be accounted for, they don't belong on the streets.

    • JayHobeSound

      "sloths"

      Their cars and uniforms are usually clean and presentable. It is the civil rights violations that usually bothers people.

  • Barney

    Their are people living under the convention center and I wish they would quit throwing their garbage onto the I-5 freeway.

  • Lauren

    I am a 63 year-old woman who is currently homeless, and I say–GET REAL! If I had seen this on Almost Live back when this video was made, it would have been worth a small chuckle, and dismissed. Everyone is so overly politically correct, it's a sad commentary on our times that a good man's career could be adversely affected by something as trivial as this.

  • Ru4Real

    You self righteous people, easy to point out a problem that irritates you isn't it. Wish you all could experience TRUE homeless and sleep in squalor.

    Jeff, so you write that "tAre we ever going to get serious about the sloths that are roaming our streets? This is pathetic! The homeless need to be in place where they can be accounted for, they don't belong on the streets." Are you willing to provide board and lodging for the homeless? Put up or shut up.

    Barney, I witness DRIVERS throwing their crap out of the car windows on I5 every day from cigarette butts to cans and bottles. Volunteer and petition to place garbage cans in the homeless and pay for the extra pickup through taxation. Put up or shut up.

  • Barney

    Someone people are self destructive and work hard at ruining their health with smoking and drinking. Party, party until the money is all gone.

  • JayHobeSound

    At least he told the officials upfront that he does not have respect for vulnerable member of society.

    Lack of respect for vulnerable people combined with a sense of entitled impunity and authority is always a bad combination.

    Wonder how many homeless or other vulnerable people he may have used excessive force on over his career?

  • Honestly

    These comments are expected in a group who have no real experience working with the homeless. The truth is that the number of homeless suffering with an addiction is less than half of the total number of homeless and most of those developed an addiction AFTER they became homeless. The others usually suffer some type of unexpected upset such as the loss of a job or the loss of a spouse, maybe natural disaster. Many of the homeless also suffer from mental disabilities and do not have the resources to afford their medications. Some are unemployed but many work full time jobs. It is dificult to afford a one bedroom apartment on minum wage and if you have bad credit, it's even worse. My work with the homeless has been a very positive experience for me and if it has taught me anything it is that anyone could become homeless at any time. There are no exceptions.


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