By Doug Wyllie
Remember when that flight attendant quit his job? It was in all the papers. It was epic.
One entirely unremarkable day in early August 2010, JetBlue Flight 1052 touched down at New York’s JFK airport—as it had countless times before. As the Embraer 190 commuter jet taxied to the gate, something of a dispute took place between a passenger and flight attendant Steven Slater. At some point during the altercation, Slater grabbed the intercom, unleashed a profanity-laced tirade, and announced, “I’ve been in this business for twenty years, and that’s it, I’ve had it! I’m done!”
Slater then popped open the forward hatch, deployed the emergency exit slide, snatched two cans of beer from the beverage cart, and bailed out of the airplane.
Slater eventually pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal mischief, but to this day he’s considered by thousands of overworked and under-appreciated flight attendants to be a national hero.
The roughly 800,000 police officers in America’s roughly 18,000 police agencies may have found their own version of this epic farewell in Lieutenant Jessica Taylor—formerly of the Seattle Police Department.
In fact, Taylor’s departure was even more epic. Fasten your seat belts and stow your tray tables, ladies and gentlemen, because this flight is going to get a little bumpy.
A Confluence of Calamities
By every imaginable measure, Jessica Taylor was a consummate professional. She served the people of Seattle for 23 years in uniformed service, beginning with 17 years on regular patrol.
In 2015, she was promoted to patrol sergeant, supervising teams of officers and mentoring junior members of the ranks. Two years later she was promoted to lieutenant, and two years after that she took on a more administrative role, overseeing things like UOF investigation and documentation.
On behalf of her department, she volunteered her time at the Special Olympics, and in 2019, she was recognized by the National Guard and awarded a Patriot Award.
In 2020—as it did for so many other law enforcement professionals—things went bad.
Lieutenant Taylor became disillusioned and downtrodden as the anti-police rhetoric—especially in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis—went from terrible to toxic. The mainstream media insisted that the “protests” were “peaceful” but officers knew different. For 11 straight days in June, thousands of people clashed with cops in Seattle. By mid-month, SPD had abandoned the East Precinct altogether, and—absent police presence—two people were fatally shot in the so-called Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) Zone.
The “defund-the-police” movement decimated department budgets across the country—hit hardest were agencies in which the political powers that be were/are pre-disposed to anti-police action (read: “progressive” and “liberal” enclaves like Seattle).
In the three years since the “defunding” began in the Emerald City, more than 600 officers have left the department for jobs elsewhere or have retired from the profession altogether. According to recently reported numbers, there are now about 950 sworn on the department—the lowest staffing level since the early 1990s. Officers who remained on at SPD were overworked and under-appreciated.
Agency leadership had caved to pressure from elected leaders who had caved to pressure from fringe protest groups.
The PD was a mess.
It still is.
This anti-cop mayhem coincided directly with the timing of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated vaccine mandates which closely resembled mafia-style extortion. In Seattle, refusal to submit came with near-totalitarian consequences.
Lieutenant Taylor—who suffers from Trigeminal Neuralgia—had trepidation about taking the vaccine—which was suspected of carrying with it myriad life-threatening side effects such as myocarditis, nervous system issues, seizures, strokes, and even some forms of cancer.
Taylor sought an exemption from the mandate.
She was denied.
For rebuffing the “Fauci Ouchie” Taylor was removed without pay from regular duty and was left “in limbo” for years.
Taylor resigned on August 1st.
Fifteen Pages of Unfiltered Fury
Taylor was encouraged to fill out a form—essentially a hand-written exit interview—upon her resignation. She declined. Instead, she typed out 15 pages of unfiltered fury. For over-worked and under-appreciated cops across the United States—and the right-minded citizens who support them—it was (and is) a thing of beauty.
You can read the entire letter here, but in sum, Taylor said at full volume and in public what so many have been saying in sotto and in private for years. Taylor’s letter unloads on Mayor Bruce Harrell and the Seattle City Council, but the Chief of Police is the primary target of her ire—it’s addressed to and aimed at Chief Adrian Diaz.
After a short preamble, Taylor declared, “The state of the Seattle Police Department and this city is a disgrace. The toxic mix of the Seattle City Council’s absurdity, the spinelessness of the Mayor, the leniency of the prosecutor’s office, and your failed leadership has accelerated this city’s downhill slide straight to rock bottom.”
Taylor continued, “People are getting hurt and killed in this city, left and right. I bet most of the citizens of Seattle would love to be able to walk outside at night or mosey into downtown Seattle and not be afraid. But they can’t, and that’s your fault. You’ve failed them. You’ve failed us.”
Taylor added, “Your controlling, bullying, and gaslighting [sic] tendencies have wreaked havoc on this department, driving away talented and dedicated officers. A true leader should inspire, support, and empower their team, not intimidate and manipulate them. Yet, your leadership style has done nothing but foster a toxic and demoralizing environment.”
Other passages include phrases such as:
- “As I walk away from this extremely toxic environment…”
- “It sickens me to witness your complete lack of concern…”
- “You willingly became a puppet, a spineless ‘yes man’…”
- “We’re fed up with being treated like second-class citizens…”
- “Congratulations, you now have a bunch of pissed-off employees…”
That’s just a few short selections—it goes on like that for 15 typed pages. That’s about 4,500 words—for context, the column you’re reading will cap out at about 1/3 that length.
Wake Up Call for Woke Leadership
Chief Diaz isn’t the first—or only—police leader to go tone deaf and start singing from a different sheet of music than the chorus of voices in the ranks.
Before he joined the Aurora (CO) Police Department late last year, Art Acevedo did a six-month stint as Chief of Police in Miami (FL). There, he managed to alienate just about everybody—pushing for mandatory COVID-19 vaccines, losing the trust of rank-and-file officers, failing to report personal vacation time, and making unauthorized hires—from line officers on up to the elected leadership.
Before she joined the Memphis (TN) Police Department, where she created the so-called “SCORPION Unit”—an allegedly “elite” street crimes outfit responsible for and beating death of Tyre Nichols—Cerelyn Davis was Chief of the Atlanta (GA) Police Department. There, she was fired for her alleged involvement in a sex crimes investigation into the husband of an Atlanta police sergeant.
Before he joined the Aurora (CO) Police Department, Art Acevedo did a brief stint as Chief of Police in Miami (FL). There, he managed to alienate just about everybody—reportedly pushing for mandatory COVID-19 vaccines, losing the trust of rank-and-file officers, failing to report personal vacation time, and making unauthorized hires—from line officers on up to the elected leadership.
Before he joined the NYU School of Law Policing Project—a nonprofit focused on “reforming” American policing—Chris Magnus was briefly the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. There, he was derided by career CPB agents as being “out of touch” with and “unengaged in” border enforcement. Prior to that, he was Chief of the Tucson (AZ) Police Department, where issued a list of calls-for-service—including things like child custody disputes and suicidal subjects—to which his officers would no longer respond.
Before he became the District Attorney in Los Angeles—where he is setting new record highs (or lows, depending on your perspective) for criminal justice ineptitude—George Gascón was the Chief of Police for the San Francisco Police Department. There, he reported to then-Mayor Gavin Newsom (alarm bells should be sounding in your head right now). During his time as Chief of SFPD, the District Attorney in Fog City was none other than Kamala Harris (those alarm bells should be deafening right now). It goes without saying—but we’ll say it anyway—that Gascón left the police department in shambles.
We at NPA don’t delight in criticizing people in law enforcement leadership. In fact, of our analysis and evaluation of police leaders is rather innocuous—even anodyne—compared to most folks in our universe. However, we cannot ignore when someone like Lieutenant Jessica Taylor sounds such a thunderous wake-up call for “woke police leaders” like Diaz, Davis, Acevedo, Magnus, and Gascón.
Whether or not that call will be answered remains to be seen—but we’ll be watching.