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Seattle City Council ties cops' hands — so police chief is forced to tell business owners they're on their own against rioters


Not exactly promising news

Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images

Roving bands of looters are now officially the problem of Seattle business owners — and not that of the Seattle police.

What are the details?

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best sent out a letter, dated July 24, detailing a new ordinance that prohibits Seattle police officers from using "less lethal tools, including pepper spray" to disperse any angry mobs. The ordinance can be read in its entirety here.

Best wrote, "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."

The letter, which emerged on social media, reads, "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. "

The letter continued, "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," Best's letter concluded.

Police chief refuses to put officers at risk

In a Thursday letter to the city council, Best said she believes it has tied the hands of the Seattle Police Department.

She wrote, "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."

Best added that she anticipates the city will continue experiencing "property destruction, arson, looting, and attempts to injure additional officers throughout the weekend and beyond."

She explained that deploying the police "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 letter added.

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