Langley Police Chief David Marks has lost the ability to effectively lead his department.
Details of Marks’ alleged excessive use of force against a handcuffed, mentally challenged man should be enough to warrant his dismissal. Two police officers had no reason to lie when they came forward and reported the incident in which, they say, Marks lost his temper and kicked the man’s feet, causing him to fall face first onto the ground.
Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks has declined to charge Marks with a crime, but his report on the incident is pretty shocking. It can be read online at the prosecutor’s website.
Marks has lost the trust and respect of a significant portion of the community. People are coming forward with stories of negative interactions with him.
There’s talk of a petition demanding his termination.
It would be very hard, if not impossible, to restore him as a trusted community leader.
People are even digging into his past. It turns out that 18 years ago Marks was working in the communications center at the Bellevue Police Department when he was accused of pointing a gun at another driver and using a racial epithet during a traffic incident. The police report states Marks first claimed he pointed a cell phone at the other driver, changed it to a wallet and finally admitted to pointing a gun.
It might seem unfair to judge Marks for something that happened nearly 20 years ago, but it appears to indicate a pattern of poor behavior on the job.
Police officers, especially chiefs of police, must be held to a very high standard. They carry guns and wield tremendous power over the people they are charged with serving and protecting. It’s vital that people trust the people who respond to emergencies.
Langley Mayor Tim Callison said he is holding off a decision about discipline until he receives a report from an expert on police use of force.
As the national debate over police and use of force rages, it’s imperative that the mayor listen to his community — including the prosecutor — and make the right decision.