Posted: 11:00 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012

Disciplined officer earns extra overtime

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February 10, 2011: KIRO Team 7 Investigators acquired additional videotape of Seattle Police Department gang detective Shandy Cobane angrily flipping the bird at a detainee who was secured in a cell. Officers had to hold Cobane back during a heated exchange.

By Chris Halsne, KIRO 7 Eyewitness News Investigative Reporter


A Seattle cop, caught stomping on the head of a Latino suspect, was allowed to increase his overtime hours by 37% last year, helping make up most of the pay he lost to a suspension.            


Some prominent community leaders tell lead Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne that's not the kind of punishment they were promised by the Chief of Police.


According to public records obtained by KIRO Team 7 Investigators, Seattle police officer Shandy Cobane earned 167 hours of overtime in 2011, despite being suspended for 30 days without pay. In 2010, Cobane turned in 121.5 hours of overtime for the full calendar year.


Seattle Police Department response email


Chief John Diaz said he wanted to fire Cobane after seeing a videotaped incident that showed Cobane kicking a man on the ground after threatening to "beat the (expletive) Mexican piss" out of him. Instead, Diaz agreed to give Cobane a "last chance." 


Our review of Cobane's overtime records is now raising questions, especially in Seattle’s minority community, about whether or not Diaz talked tough publicly about Cobane’s disciplinary action, but internally allowed him to evade a significant loss in overall pay. We checked and found Cobane did bring home less overall pay in 2011, than in 2010, despite the increase in overtime hours.


James Bible, President of the Seattle-King County Chapter of the NAACP, said he had heard about the overtime maneuvering even before KIRO-TV approached him with our findings.


“The NAACP is not surprised that Officer Cobane and the Seattle Police Department would find ways for him to recoup whatever losses that he may have experienced while on leave. It’s deeply disappointing that he’s in a place where he was able to reap overtime while also doing training programs with people of color.”


Seattle police have yet to release detailed records as to exactly where and how Cobane earned his overtime, but employees of KIRO-TV have witnessed him working weekend security at the Seafair Powerboat races.


After receiving a complaint from a parent, we also saw Cobane working as a teacher in the evenings for the Youth Police Explorers program. That program is aimed at training teenagers to be cops. SPD would not confirm or deny the amount of overtime Cobane may have made during his mentoring in this program.


SPD is defending Cobane’s involvement, but his position as a role model for youth, isn’t sitting well with some.


 “I think he's the last person. Oh! That officer has no credibility in either a willingness to deal with youth effectively and fairly or maybe he's not able to. If I were that kid's parent, I would demand another officer be put in charge,” Mandy Varona told Halsne after attending a police/community meeting at Seattle University earlier this month. 


Ernest Saadiq Morris of Urban Youth Justice added, “I think the type of police officers that need to be role models for our youth are the officers that are doing the job well and are upstanding members of the community.”


Estela Ortega of El Centro de la Raza said she has been personally meeting with Officer Cobane once a month, but didn’t think he was getting paid for any of the community work.


“I'm surprised to -- he was supposed to be doing volunteer work is my understanding - and so if he's getting paid for volunteer work -- that just doesn't sit right.”


The Police Explorers youth director is Sgt. Adrian Diaz (no relation to the Chief). He declined an on-camera interview about Cobane's involvement, but did email us several responses to our questions. In part, he wrote;


"This (the Explorers Program) is a great post that contributed over 4600 Volunteer Hours. They have done many wonderful things throughout the year and work hard and pride themselves on everything they do."


"I am sorry to hear that you had a complaint regarding Shandy Cobane. If the complaint involves wrong doing, I would say there is a process with the Office of Professional Accountability which is our internal unit."


SPD tells us on the phone that Cobane received most of his overtime pay in 2011 for work directly related to his assignment as a regular patrol officer, but so far has declined to share with us specifics or public documents with that level of detail. Seattle police also say, in 2009, (a year where he worked full-time as a gang detective) Cobane earned 229 hours of overtime, a figure higher than both the last two years. That makes 517.5 hours of approved total overtime from 2009 to 2011.

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