Kennewick police are not expected to make a specific number of arrests or issue a certain number of citations a month, as was suggested by a veteran officer in a video that has sparked an internal investigation, department officials said.
“We have expectations. And what that means is you will make so many arrests a month, you should write so many tickets a month and you should haul so many dumba---- to jail a month,” Ball is heard saying on the video.
Ball goes on to ask the group, “So would you like to be part of my quota tonight?”
Omar Abarca, 20, says the video was taken by his 15-year-old brother after Abarca and a cousin were stopped by Ball late March 31 while having car troubles.
Officials with the largest police department in the Tri-Cities on Wednesday publicly denounced the video, which was sent to them last week.
The notion that there are quotas within the department is not true, said Chief Ken Hohenberg. There are expectations that officers be diligent in investigating crimes and traffic stops, but also use their discretion when needed.
“Anybody that has worked under my tenure under the last 12 years has heard me talk about the power of discretion,’ he said.
The way Ball talks to the group is not how a Kennewick police officers should treat citizens and is not in line with the core values of the department, said Sgt. Ken Lattin, police spokesman.
“That doesn’t look right. There’s no way to polish this,” Lattin said. “It looks bad and we just have to take responsibility for it.”
An internal investigation was launched to determine if Ball, who will remain on duty, violated department policy. Hohenberg will decide if the 21-year veteran should be punished.
Hohenberg was disappointed when he watched the video, which isn’t a representation of how officers interact with citizens on a daily basis, he said.
“In our agency it is not the norm,” he said. “When you talk about expectations, it doesn’t meet our expectations with how we treat people.”
Abarca and his cousin, Miguel Lopez, were test driving a car in Kennewick when it started to break down, he said. The men ended up pushing the car part of the way back to Abarca’s house on West Fifth Avenue.
Ball mentions in the video potentially citing the pair for reckless driving, a claim that Abarca strongly denies.
The interaction with Ball escalated quickly and Abarca got upset when he was ordered to sit on the curb for no apparent reason, he said. The Kennewick man admits to talking back to the cop, but says it was after he was met with hostility.
“I was pissed off. How are you going to approach me like that?” he said. “I was taught to respect the law, not fear it.”
Ball, in the video, radios into dispatch at least one man’s information before angrily asking for another’s driver’s license.
“Now let me tell you what the difference between being a dumba-- and a smart guy is,” Ball said in the video. “You sit there with a s----eating grin on your face, let’s see your ID. Now I wasn’t even going to ask you.”
A person in the video responds, “It’s cool. It’s fair enough. I got a clean record.”
Ball is then heard saying, “Yea, but you know what, I’m the guy that can make that record look dirty. So, be smart.”
The incident left Abarca, who wasn’t cited, angry with how he and his family members were treated, he said. For him, it highlighted concerns in recent months over community policing that have been going on locally and across the nation.
“We are seeing more and more stuff like this. I don’t know what the problem is. It’s kind of crazy,” he said. “If this can happen to me — a 20-year-old male in a small city — it can happen anywhere.”
Abarca does want Ball punished for the incident, but doesn’t want to see the officer fired, he said. He is open to sitting down and talking to Ball to figure out how the situation could have been handled differently on both sides.
Abarca told the Herald he has not yet received an apology from anyone at the department.
“(Ball) has a family he has to feed. He’s a human being,” Abarca said. “He could have had an off day. Anything could have caused this.”