Seattle Police Interim Chief Jim Pugel apologized for appearing in a 1986 training video where he and other officers mocked the city’s homeless population.
The Seattle Police Department called the video, which it released last week, an “ugly piece” of the city’s history. Just 26 years old when the video was made, Pugel decided to release the tape and apologize to colleagues and homeless organizations.
Pugel is responsible for sweeping reforms to the department after a 2012 U.S. Department of Justice Report found officers routinely used excessive force.
The five-minute clip parodies the 1964 song from The Drifters, “Under the Boardwalk.” Looking unkempt officers in the video, some pretending to be homeless, sing and dance “under the viaduct.” They drink from bottles, breaking into cars, getting into fights with cops, and eventually being released without bond by a “judge.”
In a public apology, the department admitted the video was “insensitive and inappropriate.” The musical number was allegedly meant to appear at the end of a more serious training video.
The police chief in 1986, Patrick Fitzsimons, reprimanded the officers involved and ordered at all video copies of it be destroyed. One copy, kept in department inventory, was released to the public.
Calling the video a “misguided attempt at humor," Pugel said it was released because it is "important to show where this department has been and where it is going."