The Seattle City Council has banned crowd control tools such as kinetic impact projectiles, chemical irritants and acoustic weapons.
As a result, Police Chief Carmen Best says the Seattle PD may not be able to help residents and business owners if their property is damaged or destroyed by rioters or anarchists.
A bill unanimously passed last month by the City Council goes into effect this weekend, after Mayor Jenny Durkan declined to veto it and a federal judge declined to stop it, that bans crowd control tools from the Seattle PD.
Best, who has spoken out frequently over the lack of support from local elected officials in combatting violent protests, was forced to pen a letter to local residents and business explaining her concerns.
“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.”
She also wrote a letter to the City Council also expressing explicitly laying the risks she believes will be created because of these decisions.
“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,” she wrote.
“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.”
Seattle has been the site of widespread unrest over the last several months. Federal officers have been deployed to Portland, OR, to help keep law and order. No word on whether any will be sent to Seattle.
You can read Best’s letters to Seattle resident and business owners, and to the City Council here.