If our Dick Move of the Week award has a theme just three weeks into its existence, it’s that timing is everything.
It’s true again this week.
On Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, Seattle’s Interim Police Chief Jim Pugel sent an e-mail out to his department. The message was as direct as a Dick Move can be: Assistant Chief Nick Metz, SPD’s highest-ranking African-American officer, had been demoted.
Pass the gravy.
As the Seattle Times reported, “Pugel gave Metz an ultimatum: Take an assignment to captain or accept a severance package, according to sources familiar with the move.” Metz – reluctantly - chose the former, not before consulting his attorney, according to KIRO Radio, and probably directing a few choice expletives at SPD’s most high-profile one-time homeless impersonator.
In the wake of the move, Metz, who’ll begin his less-glamorous assignment on Monday, released a statement that concluded: “My work and commitment to ensure that we make our city the safest, and at the same time continue to build strong community partnerships through professional and constitutional policing, is not yet finished. I love this job. I love this Department. I love this City. … Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and remember to take good care of yourselves, and each other.”
Something tells us, given the timing of his surprise demotion, Metz’s Thanksgiving was less than wonderful. An adjective like “shitty” is probably more appropriate.
In the spirit of Joe Friday, here are just the facts: earlier this month, federal monitor Merrick Bobb, the man tasked with overseeing the city’s settlement agreement with the Department of Justice, was highly critical of the pace of SPD’s reforms. According to the Times, “A source close to Pugel said Metz was viewed as an impediment to reform.” Pugel, it seems, was trying to send a message, and Metz paid the price.
That’s all well and good. If Metz was slowing the pace of SPD reforms, the move was justified and Pugel deserves applause. Changing the culture of a force with a history of excessive force and biased policing isn’t easy. Difficult decisions need to be made.
That said, as former head of the Seattle Human Rights Commission Chris Stearns noted on Twitter, Metz was “a key liaison w/ community during DOJ investigation.” He’s also a 30-year department vet who, according to the Times, is “one of the most popular chiefs among the rank and file.”
Bottom line: Metz’s demotion may have been needed to set SPD straight. But it could have also waited until after Thanksgiving.
Happy holidays, Chief Pugel. We like you. But that was a total Dick Move.
This week’s Dick Move runners up:
Douchebags who wear Google Glass to Lost Lake Café, get kicked out, then call for heads to roll on Facebook: That’s a blatant Dick Move, yo.
Pot smoking Seahawks: That’s a selfish Dick Move, yo(s).
People who trample other people on Black Friday: DICK MOVE!!
Mark Driscoll (no relation): Still a dick.
*About Dick Move of the Week: Every week, Seattle Weekly embarks on the daunting task of sifting through all the dick moves pulled in our fair city to determine which was the biggest, hardest, or otherwise dicky-est of them all. Have a nomination? Email Matt Driscoll, email@example.com .