West Seattle change of command: ‘Thank you’ from Capt. Kessler

As we first reported this morning, a change at the top is imminent for West Seattle police – the Southwest Precinct is getting a new commander – though he’s not new to the precinct. Steve Paulsen, who was Operations Lieutenant at SWP when he left this January for a downtown job, has just been promoted to Captain, and will take over back here in West Seattle on October 1st. Capt. Joe Kessler, who has been running the precinct since spring 2008, is taking over as commander of the West Precinct. (He’s shown at right with Precinct Advisory Council chair Pete Spalding, from Night Out last month.) Capt. Kessler asked if we would share this thank-you letter:

Southwest Precinct Residents:

During the past two and a half years I have had the pleasure and privilege of serving as the commander of the Southwest Precinct. During this time I have been continually amazed at the incredible quality of the work done on a daily basis by the men and women of the Southwest Precinct. The ability to provide our community with quality service is due in large part to the great working relationships our officers have with all of you.

Your support of the Seattle Police Department and your officers, in particular, has helped create an environment that allows great work to be done. As I prepare to move to my new assignment at the West Precinct, I would like to take a moment to say thank you for making my tenure at the Southwest Precinct one of the most rewarding of my career. It has been a pleasure to serve your community. I look forward to assisting Captain Steve Paulsen, who will be returning to the Precinct as the new commander, as we transition during the next few weeks.

Again, thank you for your support and we look forward to continuing to provide the quality service you have grown to expect from the Southwest Precinct.


Captain Joe Kessler
Southwest Precinct

While asking if we’d publish that letter, Captain Kessler said he wished he could thank everybody in the community personally. Meantime, the briefing that included news of the precinct command change also included a document that wasn’t much discussed, with additional details about the department’s future plans and priorities as new Chief John Diaz settles into the job; we’ll be reviewing that for another followup. (The full news release, with attachments, from this morning’s brief is now online here.)

10 Replies to "West Seattle change of command: 'Thank you' from Capt. Kessler"

  • Star 55 September 15, 2010 (3:39 pm)

    Capt. Joe, you did WS a great service, thanks for all you did. Please leave great instructions for
    Steve Paulsen.

  • sarelly September 15, 2010 (4:45 pm)

    I wonder if the police know regular people are afraid of them, and if they do, do they enjoy it? I don’t want to be more afraid of police than I am of people who are committing crimes. I read the article through the link, which seems full of platitudes and fails to identify goals or methods that will be used to achieve those goals. The video is far more informative, and recommended to those who want insight about what is going on, and humanizes the people who work in law enforcement, so we don’t have to look at them necessarily as rogue wanderers who are going to jump out and inflict random acts of sadistic violence on the general population just because they can get away with it with impunity. There’s something wrong with feel threatened by and afraid of a police presence. I try not to resent it, because I’m sure most of them have good intentions, but when someone is carrying a weapon and might use it against a non-violent person, that is frightening. A climate in which citizens are afraid and police are equally afraid is a recipe for disaster, it seems to me.

  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz September 15, 2010 (5:56 pm)

    Good job at blooming where you were planted Capt. Kessler.

    Not everyone is afraid of the police. Police do not ‘inflict random acts of sadistic violence’. Unfortunately, aside from the blog, none of their daily good deeds get press. Their jobs consist of not only keeping us safe but doing it while keeping themselves safe (have we forgotten Officer McKissack?) so they can go home to their families.

    I think your ‘view’ of the police is much more troubling than what is going on with SPD. Where does it come from? The media? Something that happened when you were young? How did you form this opinion about police and begin to think it was a blanket fact that police are soul-less humans? Does it even have anything to do with them?

    The other question begs, when are we going to understand that we hire police for a purpose and often its not pretty that’s why we hire them. Our society is becoming more visual and instead of trying to see both sides and the fact that police have a job to do and they are doing it — it has become ‘they are out of control’ etc., etc. We won’t be happy until we have a review panel assembled at every single incident in progress and controlling every single action and word that they conduct. Yet we hire and pay them to do these jobs that we don’t want to do.

    There needs to be a proactive and positive education on police work and Seattle’s excellence compared to other departments across the country. Seattle has the highest educated and trained officers in the country.

    Back to the topic at hand, thank you Captain Kessler. I think you did a phenomenal job at hitting the street and embracing this community. And possibly its those connections with just one person like the one above that will change ‘the face of police work’.

  • sue September 16, 2010 (8:16 am)

    Wow sarelly, seriously? My first reaction is to feel sorry for you. Honestly. To make a blanket statement as you have is so prejudicial, I can’t even form a response to it. And thank you zzzzzzzzz for a voice of reason. Police *are* hired to do the jobs that no one else wants to do, and they are fathers, mothers, sons, daughters and grandparents. They put themselves in harms way each and every day, and certainly they are not perfect, but I, for one, am glad they are willing to step up to the task.

    Congrats Captain Paulsen (has a nice ring to it!) – I wish you the best of luck in your new assignment.

  • sarelly September 16, 2010 (9:36 am)

    I appreciate the feedback of both Z and Sue here. You are correct, Z – I shouldn’t base my opinion of all police officers on something that happened 40 years ago in a different city, or on incidents that have occurred or are going on in different cities and countries at this moment. I have never personally known anyone who works in law enforcement, which is perhaps part of the problem. When police are seen as a monolithic entity, and there are no personal individual connections, that is a barrier to feeling safe.

    Having said that, I know I am not the only person who feels anxious about encounters with law enforcement. I would be willing to bet dollars to donuts that anyone who is not European American, and/or an affluent white collar professional or business owner, and/or clearly “mainstream” has had similar concerns.

    Being in the wrong part of town as a person of color could get you killed in some places. Anyone with apparent “outsider” status is likely to be treated poorly. I have lived in places with enormous racism and ethnic prejudice, and also around people who were radicals at a time of deep social unrest, and with a mentally ill and often homeless parent. An older family member was assaulted (broken bones) by police officers. Whether that was justified I don’t know, but it’s hard to imagine how a five foot tall woman could be viewed as such a threat. I’ve seen people stopped and searched for “driving while black” or made to clear out of a public park for doing the exact same things white people were doing. Incidents like that have definitely colored my perceptions. What the family of the man who was shot at Boren must be going through now, I can’t imagine. But it is fair to say I don’t know anything about the Seattle police department, and it is fair to ask me and others to give them the benefit of the doubt.

  • meinws September 16, 2010 (10:38 am)

    Oh sarelly, I am sad for you. At the same time, I know what it’s like to form opinions about something I have no experience or part of, often having them corrected or modified with the experience at a later time. As someone who has grown up in a ‘Public Service’ focused household, I see the police, fire, medics, and military as the people that they are, doing the things that I’m incapable of, so that I can continue to do the things I am capable of.

    I think what your are missing the most is the connection that these men and women are your neighbors, your colleagues, and potentially your life savers. They have family and friends that love them and worry for them and are proud of them.

    I strongly reccommend that you take the initiative to open your perspective to a wider version. Head to the SW Precint and strike up a converstaion. I have no doubt that you will see rather quickly that these officers are regular people. People that are selfless and honorable. People that are proud and determined. People that learn as they go and make mistakes like you and me. I think the best thing you’ll learn is that they have so many more things in common with you than not. There’s something to be said about confronting your fears.

    To Capitan Paulsen – Congratulations and welcome back to the westside!

  • RG September 16, 2010 (3:09 pm)

    Sarelly, take heart. I also read your recent post from a similar thread and I think I understand how you feel.

    Some years ago, in the winter, my husband pulled up to a police officer at a multi-way intersection to ask if a particular street was open to traffic. The officer was sitting in his vehicle. The officer got out and yelled in anger at my husband and was verbally abusive and physically intimidating. He refused to allow my husband to speak. It was dark, cold, and raining – he made my husband sit in our car for a very, very long time. What the officer didn’t know is that my infant son was in the back seat ill, and whimpering in pain.

    The officer falsely cited my husband with serious crime. There was one witness in another car (who was shocked at the officer’s behavior). The only reason we were able to legally resolve this was because a friend referred us to an excellent criminal lawyer. It was also very expensive.

    That was some years ago and though I do not hold resentments towards the police I will never view them with trust ever again.

    I went to a councilor who helped me get through it all; I had felt powerless and angry that my son was languishing in such pain while the lying officer just sat in his car to make my husband sweat. My baby should have been at home in my arms. The councilor helped me to understand that what happened to my son and husband that night had nothing to do with them, but had everything to do with the character of that one police officer. I think I’ll always have mixed feelings about the police in general because of what happened but I try not to be resentful to the police I encounter today because of that one bad egg. Besides, I believe in karma.

  • Baba September 16, 2010 (5:54 pm)

    —Police *are* hired to do the jobs that no one else wants to do,…—
    What a pile of… Are you suggesting that police officers are doing US a big favor? We don’t owe anything to police officers. It’s just a career choice, that WE, as taxpayers, chose to pay for. NO one is forcing people to become police officers. And every time when I see officers directing traffic after one of them games downtown for a hefty overtime pay, I DON’T say NOTHING. It’s my way, as a taxpayer, to show appreciation.

  • Baba September 16, 2010 (6:21 pm)

    To Serve – US, to Protect – US, on OUR DIME!!!

  • Pete September 16, 2010 (8:40 pm)

    Baba….most officers that you see directing traffic after sporting events are paid for by the team(s) involved not the tax payers…..thank you

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