Frank Poblocki’s body camera captured him taking a rolling chair out of the back of his police vehicle and waiting outside an Auto Zone for one of its employees to come and apologize to him.
Screenshot: Seattle Times video

Police work isn’t easy, especially when you are a police sergeant with the Seattle Police Department who got called a “bitch,” a “ho,” a “punk” and thoroughly cussed out by a hardworking couple who had their car towed by him while they were sleeping. He was just doing his job, after all.

Sgt. Frank Poblocki’s body camera captured the entire Feb. 10, 2018 interaction between him and the unidentified couple whose car he had towed. Seattle Times shared the footage, and in the recording, it is clear that Poblocki is not only familiar with the couple, he has watched them drive the unregistered vehicle a number of times without ticketing them. He mentions that fact to them.

The woman explained that the vehicle belonged to her child’s father (not her current boyfriend) who has since been locked up in jail, so she had a hard time getting the paperwork for the car signed over into her name. Additionally, she was short of funds to get it registered but had plans to do so that day as she had just gotten paid.

When Poblocki pointed out that he had seen them driving the car, the woman explained that they are hardworking people who have to get to work. She asked him if they could get a ticket in lieu of a tow, but Poblocki refused.

The woman’s boyfriend, a black man, called Poblocki a “ho” and asked him if he didn’t have something better to do than tow a person’s car in the middle of the night. The woman also objected to Poblocki initiating the tow while they were sleeping. She called him a “bitch” and “punk” and generally cussed him out in frustration.

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Poblocki, who at this point had already gotten back into his car, rolled down his window and told the couple “I’ll see you guys. Good night.”

He was serious too, because a few hours later, he pulled up in front of the Auto Zone where the black man worked, pulled a rolling office chair out of the back of his car, and sat right in front of the store for 40 minutes while on the clock and in uniform. He told people who asked that he was waiting for the black man to come out and apologize to him.

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This entire incident was captured on his body camera as well. Many people, including other police officers, questioned Poblocki about why he was sitting there.

He told one officer that he was “cold kickin’ it” and doing some “community-oriented policing stuff.”

He told another citizen that some guy had called him “a ho and a bitch,” and that he planned to stay out there until he got his apology.

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More than one person rebuked Poblocki and his actions. One witness, who was white, told Poblocki that he considered what he was doing to be harassment. The witness filed a complaint that same day with the Office of Police Accountability (OPA), and called Poblocki’s actions “a complete waste of taxpayer money” that “promotes poor relations with the community.”

According to an Aug. 2, 2018 memo from OPA, an officer who reported to Poblocki pulled up and asked him what he was doing out there.

“I’m just hanging,” Poblocki said. “I don’t know if I told ya, I got a little disrespected earlier today. I think I deserve an apology. Do you know that broke down purple Crown Vic? That’s not his car. That’s his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend’s, who is currently in jail. You would think he would have enough pride not to be driving around his girlfriend’s ex-man’s car. I think I’m owed an apology.”

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According to the Oct. 12, 2018 Disciplinary Action Report in which Chief of Police Carmen Best suspended Poblocki and demoted him back down to officer, this was not his first time being disciplined or addressed for having a nasty attitude and demeanor when dealing with the public. In fact, Best noted that Poblocki had been “disciplined and counseled” on his professionalism “repeatedly.”

The day before the infamous Auto Zone incident, Poblocki was counseled regarding inappropriate comments he made to someone during a traffic stop. In October 2016, his supervisor cautioned him that he should avoid sarcasm when interacting with the public. He was suspended twice before for violating the department’s professionalism policy.

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In his response to the OPA memo, Poblocki claimed that he never intended to directly contact the man for an apology. He simply wanted to be visible and available in case the man came out and wanted to further discuss the matter.

He also asked that the department recognize that this was just one day in a long career, but his disciplinary record would say otherwise.

This is a clear example of what can happen when keeping it real goes wrong.

So many police officers believe they are owed a modicum of respect simply because they chose to put on a badge. They forget that they serve at the will of the people and it is the tax dollars of the people that keep them paid.

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They think it is OK to engage in this type of harassment until they get caught.

The only question left to ask is: With a disciplinary record like Poblocki’s that contain repeated offenses of the same type, at what point does he become a liability and someone who no longer needs to serve on the force?