Seattle justice : the rise and fall of the police payoff system in Seattle

by Christopher T. Bayley

Hardcover, 2015




Seattle, WA : Sasquatch Books, 2015.


"Despite its reputation as a progressive and high-tech place, Seattle had a 100-year history of vice and official corruption. The system involved city official turning a blind eye to illegal gambling, unlicensed bars, and prostitution--in exchange for which police officers demanded "operating fees" in the form of cash payments from establishment owners. The money trail may have started on sordid streets but it traveled high up in official hierarchy. In the early 1970s, Christopher T. Bayley was a young lawyer with a fire in his belly to break the back of this antiquated system known as the "tolerance policy." Against the odds, he became the youngest prosecutor in King County (which includes Seattle) in history. Six months into his first term, he indicted a city councilman, the previous county prosecutor (who had the job for 22 years), a former police chief, and an assistant police chief. This is the story of how vice and payoffs became rules of the game in Seattle, and what it took to finally clean up the city"--… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Carolee888
I usually enjoy reading about politics and people trying to fight against graft and improve the lives of others. So I picked this book to read. I am very sure that the author achieved everything he wanted to do when he set out to tell the history of the politics and crime in Seattle. He gave a background of how it all started. At first there was no police force but in the 1830s, three people were lynched and there were some anti-Chinese riots. But instead of paying them well for their important job of protection, they received a very low salary. That was the beginning of the intertwining of the police and crime. The police demanded their cut of the illegal liquor profits, prostitution and gambling money. They took pay offs from the businesses and demanded protection money.

The politicians were quiet about this and did not fight it. It was the status quo. There were periods
of reform but the crime always managed to survive. And the system and crime fed each other.

The author, Christopher Bayley and a few of his friends decided to fight the swamp of crime that even reached the Mayor of Seattle. He managed to defeat the King County Prosecutor and work on cleaning up Seattle. He indicted well know office holders who were not lifting a finger against the crime and high level police officials.

I did learn a lot of how crime and politics can grow intertwined. The author gave a detailed and well researched account of what happened. The only problem was that it was difficult to get through this book. Even though there were some very exciting events going on in this story it was almost as if it was written in a monotone. I did finish the book but it was not easy. Sometimes I would read a page and then come back to book later and found myself unable to remember the “who, what and where” of the story. It is difficult for me to pin down why the writing was like that. So I would say if you need to know what happened in Seattle in that period of time, this is an important book for you but it is definitely not book to read for pleasure.

I received this Advanced Reading Copy by making a selection from Amazon Vine books but that in no way influenced my thoughts or feelings in this review. I also posted this review only on sites meant for reading not for selling.
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