Spokane NOW calls on Chief Craig Meidl to denounce officer comments in body camera footage at Planned Parenthood
Contact: Mariah McKay
Member At Large, Spokane Area Chapter
National Organization for Women
February 24, 2020 "We deserve professionalism, respect and protection, not judgement as to the supposed desirability of our bodies."
As reported in the Spokesman Review, recently leaked officer body camera footage demonstrates how the Spokane Police Department selectively enforces the relevant noise ordinances during protests at the local Planned Parenthood health center. However, subsequent reporting has overlooked two other important aspects of the footage, the first regarding demeaning comments from officers about women’s bodies, and the comments of sympathy towards Rep. Matt Shea. Police Chief Meidl went further to dismiss the behavior, so today we are calling on him to denounce the litany of unprofessional and inappropriate conduct displayed in the video.
In the video, Officer Scott Hice can be heard commenting on both sides protesting outside of the Planned Parenthood health center on August 22nd: “The better looking girls are on the other side...the Church side....a little cleaner at least. Oh I’m on body cam? I’m already in trouble.” Lt. Dave Overhoff, the commanding officer, jokes about how many phone numbers they were able to get. Both veterans, this behavior while on duty is neither funny nor something to make light of, especially given a recent incident where an officer was charged with rape after allegedly sexually assaulting a victim of a domestic violence crime that the officer was investigating. All women and patients in our community are deserving of respect, not judgement as to the supposed cleanliness or desirability of our bodies. Just because officers are charged with protecting our bodies doesn’t make them entitled to comments that inappropriately sexualize them while on the job. How can we expect to be kept safe when we are being denigrated and dismissed by those who are supposed to protect us? Additionally, the officer’s comments of sympathy for Rep. Matt Shea, who Chief Meidl has called to resign and was recently removed from the GOP caucus, shouldn’t go unnoticed. In the video, officers express skepticism about Rep. Shea’s attempts to set up surveillance on Councilwoman Lori Kinnear. Rep. Shea frequently attends these protests at Planned Parenthood and was found in an extensive investigation to have aided in plans for domestic terrorism. Our officers must remain politically neutral while on the job. We want to see corrective action taken, and we want to see equal and fair application of the law. As shown in the video, officers feel comfortable enough to say anything on camera, without any fear of what the consequences could be for their actions. We are disappointed with the Spokane Police Department playing political games, and call on them to do their jobs and protect the community regardless of what their personal beliefs may be. We demand better from our law enforcement, and a response from Chief Meidl about this inappropriate behavior. The National Organization for Women is the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States. NOW has hundreds of thousands of contributing members and more than 500 local and campus affiliates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Spokane Area NOW’s purpose is to advocate on behalf of women’s rights and civil rights in partnership with like-minded organizations.
In addition to lodging a complaint with the Office of Police Ombudsman, you can take the following actions around this issue:
Donate to Planned Parenthood's "Match the Decibels" campaign. Share our Facebook page statement on the issue with your friends. Be sure to copy and paste the statement into your post or it won't be displayed. Email or call Police Chief Craig Meidl directly and explain to him why this officer behavior is unacceptable for professional officers in Spokane: Phone: 509-625-4063 Email: email@example.com Write an email to your City Council representative expressing your desire for action and enforcement around this issue.
Breean Beggs City Council President Phone: 509.625.6254 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Michael Cathcart Michael Cathcart District 1 Phone: 509.625.6257 Email: email@example.com Kate Burke Kate Burke District 1 Phone: 509.625.6275 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Lori Kinnear Lori Kinnear District 2 Phone: 509.625.6261 Email: email@example.com Betsy Wilkerson Betsy Wilkerson District 2 Phone: 509.625.6258 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Candace Mumm Candace Mumm District 3 Phone: 509.625.6256 Email: email@example.com Karen Stratton Karen Stratton District 3 Phone: 509.625.6291 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org