Seattle made it official last week, the town is now available for whatever protesters want to do, and the police can’t intervene.
The Seattle City Council passed an ordinance banning the use of several non-lethal tools, such as pepper spray, by the Seattle police department. The ban on pepper spray allowed the use in very targeted instances against specific individuals, but that made the exception useless. In the middle of a riot, you can’t guarantee pepper spray will reach just one person. It’s an aerosol.
With her hands effectively tied by the Council, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best sent the Council a letter explaining that she can’t protect the city and will not put her officers in harm’s way without the tools necessary to protect themselves.
“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.”
“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.”
After sending this letter, Best wrote one to Seattle business owners and residents in which she said:
“Simply put, the legislation gives officers NO ability to safely intercede to preserve property in the midst of a large, violent crowd.”