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Originally published September 25, 2012 at 6:54 PM | Page modified September 26, 2012 at 6:16 AM

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Bellevue chief says allegations overshadow police's good work

Bellevue Police Chief Linda Pillo says allegations that three of her officers taunted and cursed a Seattle police officer and were kicked out of a Seahawks game have undermined public confidence in the department and damaged its relationship with Seattle police.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Bellevue Police Chief Linda Pillo says allegations that three of her officers taunted and cursed a Seattle police officer and later were kicked out of a Seahawks game have undermined public confidence in the department and damaged its relationship with Seattle police.

"The good work of our men and women on-duty has been overshadowed" by the allegations of the officers' behavior, Pillo said during a meeting Monday of the Bellevue City Council. "The incidents have been embarrassing and disheartening."

Pillo told the council she expects it will take a month to complete an internal investigation into allegations of hooliganism by the three apparently intoxicated off-duty Bellevue officers accused of taunting and bullying a female Seattle officer and getting booted out of the Seahawks Sept. 16 game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Pillo said the officers involved have rights, and that the department's Office of Professional Standards will conduct a "thorough and fair" investigation into the incident.

But Pillo also said that when it comes time, she would "hold the officers accountable" and impose discipline that she hopes will restore the public trust in the department.

At the same time, she hopes to "provide an avenue of professional improvement" for the officers involved.

The officers' names have not been released by the department.

The chief said the reputation of the 219-member Police Department has suffered publicly since The Seattle Times first reported that the three off-duty officers surrounded a uniformed Seattle officer who had confronted them for littering outside CenturyLink Field.

The officers — two men and a woman — along with another woman, reportedly used vulgar language and taunted the officer, and sources reported that at least one of them flashed a badge. Another Seattle police officer was concerned enough to call for supervisors and additional officers to respond to the scene.

According to the Seattle police, the supervisors also were subjected to taunts and foul language.

The Bellevue officers were allowed to go on their way with no arrests or citations "because no crime was committed," Seattle police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said. The group continued into the stadium, where one Seahawks season-ticket holder said they repeatedly dropped "F-bombs" in front of his wife and 12-year-old son. When they were asked to tone it down, the fan said, one of the men became belligerent and called him vulgar names in front of his son.

The four were kicked out of the stadium, and the fan said the female Bellevue officer told him that he should stay out of Bellevue.

After the incident, Pillo called the female Seattle officer and apologized.

"I want to emphasize that the reported off-duty incidents of the officers are not indicative of the Bellevue Police Department," Pillo said. "Your officers provide extraordinary service to the Bellevue community every day. I'm proud of their work and their dedication to provide the highest level of law enforcement."

Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or mcarter@seattletimes.com

Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.

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