By Steve Pomper
I recently received two jolts in 12 hours. One evening, a good friend, in fact we worked together for many years in the same precinct, told me he was done with the Seattle Police Department (SPD). He’d accepted an offer from a sheriff’s office in the region. I couldn’t blame him.
Things have been bad for officers in the SPD for a long time. Since well before I retired in 2014. He’d been dallying with the notion of leaving, nevertheless, it still struck me because I knew how difficult the decision must have been.
The next morning, I was checking my messages and saw a Facebook post from another good friend who’d announced he was also leaving the SPD after accepting an offer from another police department. He’s served the City of Seattle as a cop for over two decades.
I remember even 15 or so years ago, the first officer and I talking about lateralling (hire on) to another agency. But we both decided, as bad as it was, neither of us was ready to start over. Well, it’s gotten so bad, I retired probably 10 years before I otherwise would have, and he’s switching agencies with only four years left until his retirement eligibility. But he could no longer see making it to 30 years with the SPD. And he’s taking a significant pay cut to leave. It’s not about the money.
He is a great cop. During his career, he served in many capacities, including some specialty units. He also served as a field training officer (FTO) for many years, where he passed his excellent skills onto rookie officers. Both of us, along when many other FTOs, eventually got to the point the city would no longer allow us to teach student officers how to do the job correctly, safely. So, we resigned from the FTO program, me first and then him.
And this from officers who just a few years earlier had talked about how being police officers was better than working for a living. Recall the adage: do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. We wondered how the leftist movement could take the best job in the world, protecting and serving our community, and destroy it.
My other friend’s story knocked me for more of a loop. As I said, I was at least tangentially aware that the first officer was considering lateralling or taking early retirement. I’d recently spent a few days with my other friend at a police officer-firefighter motorcycle event. While the sad state of law enforcement was a common topic all weekend, he’d mentioned no specific plans to leave the SPD.
He began his post with, “I cannot in good faith continue working for a city that does not respect the rule of law.” He lamented the city council members routinely badmouthing officers. He commented on a civilian-led internal investigations office that considers officers guilty until they prove themselves innocent. But that wasn’t the most shocking thing he wrote.
He said he’d also planned on devoting a 30-year career to the SPD, but with 23 of those years down, he could not see staying another seven years under the current conditions. He complimented the great officers and supervisors he’s worked for/with over the years. And he expressed optimism that Seattle would eventually “wake up.”
But here’s the thing he said that particularly struck me and who would imagine any police officer would ever have to say? He wrote, “I am just no longer willing to sit in a building while Molotov cocktails are hurled at it.”
Think about that. He’s not kidding. This is not figurative or hyperbole. I know because he is (was) assigned to the SPD East Precinct. My work home for over 20 years, and the precinct Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan ordered abandoned—surrendered—to her “summer of love” family in the infamous CHOP/CHAZ “autonomous zone.” You know, the city’s social experiment that resulted in two murders, and several rapes, robberies, arsons, assaults, etc.
I and both these officers served at the East Precinct for many years. That precinct has been the target of radicals for decades. The difference now is the city would not allow its officers to do their jobs, to adequately protect their precinct, to repulse a violent and unreasonable foe—as we used to do.
The psychological impact on officers who experience city leaders (as in Minneapolis and Seattle) ordering their police precinct abandoned or surrendered to a group of leftist political insurrectionists cannot be underestimated. Especially, when the abandoning or surrendering was so easily preventable. Today, the East Precinct looks like hell, surrounded by a cordon of concrete barricades and chain-link fencing.
A few years back, in Seattle, a group of leftist activists, likely many of the same people involved in the mayhem today, fought against the city building a new North Precinct. The opponents dubbed their cause, “Ban the Bunker.” They did not want a “militarized bunker” in their neighborhood. Well, because of people like them, the city’s police precincts have essentially become actual bunkers.
It’s also important to note that the effects of abandoning of a police precinct is not only felt by the officers assigned to that precinct but also by every police officer in the entire department. It’s hard to imagine anything more demoralizing than watching city leaders giving in to violent political thugs. To most people, a police precinct is just a building; to cops, it’s that and so much more.