Seattle's Interim Police Chief Apologizes For 1986 Music Video Mocking Homeless

Apr 26, 2013

Seattle Interim Police Chief Jim Pugel says "I'll apologize for the rest of my life" for appearing in a department produced video showing officers mocking the city's homeless to the tune of a classic pop hit.

The Seattle Police Department released the video on Thursday and issued an apology online under the headline, "We Own This Circa 1986 Video And For That We Apologize."

It's hugely embarrassing, it was in poor taste and I own it. And it shouldn't have been done.

The video shows Seattle police officers dressed as homeless men dancing to a parody of The Drifters' 1964 hit "Under the Boardwalk." Lyrics include:

Under the Viaduct, where dirt is our floor
Under the Viaduct, who could ask for more?
Under the Viaduct, we’ll be drinking our booze
Under the Viaduct, our sores continue to ooze

Speaking with Steve Scher on Weekday, Pugel said he regrets making the video. "It's hugely embarrassing, it was in poor taste and I own it. And it shouldn't have been done," Pugel said.

Pugel said the SPD planned to make the video public earlier, but the release was delayed by last week's bombings at the Boston Marathon and the explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant. Releasing it then, Pugel said, "would have been in even poorer taste."

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn's office says the mayor was made aware of the video when he first asked Pugel to serve as acting chief. McGinn says Pugel "made the right call to share the video and to apologize."

Pugel is an assistant chief who has been with the department for 30 years. Earlier this month, Mayor Mike McGinn named him to lead the SPD when outgoing chief John Diaz retires at the end of May.

The city is currently working with a court-appointed monitor to implement police reforms addressing allegations of biased policing and excessive force by the Seattle Police Department.