SW Precinct boarded up as a precaution against protestors; Chief Best sends letter detailing loss of non lethal tools
Carmen Best, Chief of Police sent out a letter to businesses, Seattle City Council and the community in light of potential protests that are thought to be staged this weekend. As part of the preparations she outlines, all precincts are being boarded up. A crew from Herzog Glass was busy adding plywood to all lower windows at the SW Precinct exterior on Friday. This is a purely precautionary measure and in response to what Chief Best characterizes as being denied the use of even non-lethal tools to "safely intercede to preserve property in the midst of a large violent crowd."
Her letter states:
Dear Business Owner and/or Resident:
Please know that the Seattle Police Department is committed to addressing life safety incidents and calls for service, and responding to ongoing demonstrations and unrest in the city.
Please also know that the City Council Ordinance 119805 Crowd Control Tool goes into effect this weekend on Sunday, July 26, 2020. This ordinance bans Seattle Police officers the use of less lethal tools, including pepper spray that is commonly used to disperse crowds that have turned violent. Simply put, the legislation gives officers NO ability to safely intercede to preserve property in the midst of a large, violent crowd.
It is important to bring to your attention that yesterday, I sent the City Council a letter ensuring them that as the Chief of Police, I have done my due diligence of informing them numerous times of the foreseeable impact of this ordinance on upcoming events. The letter is attached for your reference.
For these reasons, Seattle Police will have an adjusted deployment in response to any demonstrations this weekend – as I will never ask our officers to risk their personal safety to protect property without the tools to do so in a safe way.
Chief of Police
In her letter to the City Council she detailed what it would mean to be stripped of the use of non-lethal tools to deal with violent crowds.
July 23, 2020
Lorena González, President and Lisa Herbold, Public Safety Chair
Seattle City Council, City Hall
600 Fourth Ave, 2nd Floor
Seattle, WA 98104
Re: City Council Ordinance 119805 – Crowd Control Tools
Dear President González, Chairwoman Herbold, and Seattle City Council Members:
SPD has confirmed with the City Attorney’s Office that the City Council ordinance banning the use of less lethal tools – including pepper spray - commonly used to disperse crowds that have turned violent, will go into effect this weekend as written.
I am sending this notification for the purpose of ensuring I have done my due diligence of informing Council of the foreseeable impact of this ordinance on upcoming events.
It is a fact that there are groups and individuals who are intent on destruction in our City. Yes, we also have seen weeks of peaceful demonstrations, but two recent events (Sunday, July 19th and Wednesday, July 22nd) have included wide-scale property destruction and attacks on officers, injuring more than a dozen, some significantly.
This weekend we know that several events are planned across the city that will foreseeably involve many of the same violent actors from recent days. There is no reason not to assume we will continue to experience property destruction, arson, looting, and attempts to injure additional officers throughout the weekend and beyond.
With this Council ordinance, we hear loudly and clearly that the use of these less-lethal tools by SPD officers to disperse crowds that have turned violent have been completely banned by City Council.
Under these circumstances, as created by Council, we cannot manage demonstrations as we have in the past. If I am not allowed to lawfully equip officers with the tools they have been trained to use to protect the community and themselves, it would be reckless to have them confront this level of violence under the current legal restrictions imposed by Council.
Some have asked why officers are not arresting those engaging in criminal behavior, as officers do every day, and as they have in recent protests. If it is safe to do so, and even when it places their lives in danger, our officers always directly address criminal behavior. They do this, however, when they know they have the tools shown to allow the safe use of their policing powers. This Council ordinance denies them access to these tools that have been an essential part of their court-approved tactics.
We have clear, court-mandated procedures for arresting individuals, grounded in the principles of de-escalation. SPD’s de-escalation principles are premised on the expectation, consistent with policy and best practices, that officers have the full array of approved tools. In large crowds, there is no safe way for officers to effect arrests when their colleagues do not have the tools necessary to protect them.
As City Council’s legislation goes into effect, it will create even more dangerous circumstances for our officers to intervene using what they have left – riot shields and riot batons.
For these reasons, SPD will have an adjusted deployment in response to any demonstrations this weekend. The Council legislation gives officers no ability to safely intercede to preserve property in the midst of a large, violent crowd. Allowing this behavior deeply troubles me, but I am duty-bound to follow the Council legislation once it is in effect. If the Council is prepared to suggest a different response or interpretation of the legislation, I stand ready to receive it.
Additionally, while the Ordinance by title suggests a limitation to crowd management purposes, the language of the Ordinance, in its blanket prohibition on the procurement and ownership of such tools, effectively eliminates these tools as available less-lethal options across the board. The bill clearly bans OC spray at any rally, demonstration or other event, despite if it turns violent.
Further, while we recognize a limited exception for the targeted use of OC spray, the exception does not realistically allow for deployment in such a manner that ensures the aerosol does not disperse onto anyone other than the intended subject. For these reasons, officers who typically deploy with OC as one of their standard less-lethal options will no longer be carrying this tool.
We continue to assess the impact of the prohibition on the procurement, ownership, and use of these tools on SWAT operations.
I believe Council can lead on de-escalation at each of these events through their voice and presence encouraging peaceful demonstrations. It remains my deep hope that once OPA and the OIG have had opportunity to complete the analysis tasked to them, Council will engage productively with SPD and its accountability partners to forge a meaningful path forward that provides for public safety in these unprecedented times. Page 3 of 3
Chief of Police
Seattle Police Department
Tammy Morales, Councilmember, District 2
Kshama Sawant, Councilmember, District 3
Alex Pedersen, Councilmember, District 4
Debora Juarez, Councilmember, District 5
Dan Strauss, Councilmember, District 6
Andrew Lewis, Councilmember, District 7
Teresa Mosqueda, Councilmember, District 8, At-Large
Chief Best stood at a podium and promised not to use tear gas; two days later, she broke that promise. She promised to investigate other methods of crowd control. It appears she has not done that either.
Most of these tactics (tear gas, pepper spray, choke holds) had been used on protesters indiscriminately--peaceful protesters as well as those who were not. The Seattle Office of Police Accountability previously said it is reviewing and processing thousands of complaints regarding police misconduct during the George Floyd protests in Seattle. It released a list of 10 incidents it received the most complaints about, including the use of pepper spray on peaceful protesters, the use of flash bangs, and covering badge numbers. And for that reason, the city council chose to ban tear gas and some other things.
The law goes into effect this coming SUNDAY, according to Chief Best. So here is a question for all of us to wonder about:. Can Chief Best can explain why her officers did nothing this last Wednesday or last Sunday as thugs broke windows and looted. What stopped them? The law was not in effect then. So what stopped her from showing us how effective these methods were? How they could be used with restraint and only on those committing violence?
Nothing. A game of politics is being played with Seattle businesses and peaceful protesters both paying the price.
I support peaceful protest. Violence is wrong. Breaking windows is wrong. But police over reaction is wrong. And police underreaction is wrong.
Very sorry to hear the police have been deprived of non-lethal tools that would both allow them to effectively do their jobs and enforce the law. Those who took away these tools should be ashamed.
Here ya GO DUMBASSES! Stay out of SEATTLE! Stay away from any of these RIOTS. Seattle is about to Burn. National Guard where are you! All I can say is it seemed as tho SOMETHING WAS BEING DONE TODAY 7-25 to stop the destruction of Seattle .... Silly thought!!!!!! April.. I mean JULY FOOLS!!! Yep they are all Leftist Fools... Lord Help Our City and ALL Cities in The USA.. We have truly become A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY.. 🙏🙏🙏 😢&😡 You are doing it to yourselves Seattle Way passed time for National Guard assistance... President Trump Please! Enough is Enough
I have conflicting opinions on this. I don't support the violence, and particularly against small businesses, and am not anti law enforcement, but I've never been a fan of the SPD, some fine officers notwithstanding.
For decades, the SPD has been nonchalant in dealing with property crime, and they have strained they city budget with over policing generally peaceful public celebrations, for example, Bumbershoot (think juicy OT for officers.).
The SPD is an institution, and institutions often want to justify their payroll. Sometimes it's justified, sometimes not. Take everything with a grain a salt, on both sides of the issue.
Seattle is fortunate to have Police Chief Best and unfortunate to have such a wide sampling of marxists as council members. The solution will not be resolved until next election cycle. SPD Chief of Police provided clear and detailed communication to civic leadership (who are primarily marxists).
The rapidly growing violence in Liberal controlled states and cities is a Biblical Prophetic sign of the end of the world as we know it and the eminent return of of Jesus Christ for those who have chosen to make Him their Lord and Savior return. If you haven't asked Him to forgive your sin and become your Lord and Savior you need to do it now. One minuet could be too late!
Jesus Christ Democrat’s. Will you stop at nothing to posture for power? You are ridiculously transparent in what you really care about, which is nothing other than your own self-aggrandizement toward being elected. Seriously. In my humble opinion, President Trump is attempting to bring back jobs from China, regulate our borders and make the American dream of success and the middle class possible for more of our citizens. What the hell exactly are you doing?!!??
I’ve always heard “Fight Fire with Fire” but never have I heard “Fight Stupid with Stupid” simply put....it was a Stupid Idea to take away the Police Officer’s ability to “Non Lethality” protect the city, and for the Cheif to stand down and let the City burn to prove It.... well that is an expensive way to get your point across....My humble Opinion Is that, whoever Put this restriction on the Police, and signed the Law (or Ordnance) should be Held Fully Responsible!
Wonder why all the cities who are going through all these riots are run by Democrats. If I lived in Seattle I'd carry a weapon. The police cannot do their job any more. Can see Amazon leaving the city. Why not?
Stupid is what stupid does. Watch the crime rate climb. LOL
Pray that Jenny Durkan doesn't have an aneurysm and her head explodes. In that case, Council President Lorena Gonzalez immediately become acting mayor for five days. If she declines to remain as mayor, the council is authorized to vote and elect a councilmember to fill the vacancy. Then, watch the knives come out! That's scary. The City Council is stacked 7 to 2 in favor of insanity. Who is the worst conceivable choice for Mayor of Seattle? Uh huh. That's correct. That's really frightening.
Cops are great at manipulating fear to get more funding and escape accountability. Make them earn their six figure salaries.
since the council and mayor want to defend the police, how about starting with their security details. Then we'll see if they REALLY want to defend the police. I bet they won't.