Downtown Seattle is now so dangerous city employees will have security guard escorts 1

Downtown Seattle is now so dangerous city employees will have security guard escorts

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Seattle has become so dangerous that the city can no longer protect its own employees, with security guards now escorting them after they finish work.

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King County’s new ‘walking bus’ will debut on November 15, and see council workers based in Downtown Seattle and nearby Pioneer Square escorted to a nearby train station and ferry terminal each evening before being left to continue their commute home. 

An announcement on King County’s official website says: ‘King County is launching a ‘Walking Bus’ pilot program where county employees can join their colleagues and a Facilities Management Division (FMD) Security Escort each evening walking to the King Street Station and the Coleman Dock from the downtown campus.’

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No provision has been made for private sector workers also based in the same area, which hit the headlines a day after Seattle announced it was cutting $10 million from the city police department’s $400m budget. 

That has outraged both pro-police advocates and defund the police campaigners, after the city vowed to hack 50 per cent off its policing budget after George Floyd’s murder. Meanwhile, the city’s former top police officer Carmen Best – the first black woman to hold the job – said the push to defund cops is losing steam, even in the woke Washington city.

The walking bus announcement also makes no mention of spiraling crime in the Pacific Northwest city, which has seen a recent 35 per cent spike in shootings this year compared to last, and a 76 per cent increase compared to 2019. So far in 2021, 73 people have been killed and another 283 have been injured by shootings in the city.

King County staff will now have an extra layer of protection on their commute home from security guards with the Facilities Management Division. Any city workers employed outside of King County or private sector workers in the area will still be left to fend for themselves on their commutes home

King County staff will now have an extra layer of protection on their commute home from security guards with the Facilities Management Division. Any city workers employed outside of King County or private sector workers in the area will still be left to fend for themselves on their commutes home

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But the danger the city fears its workers are in is further underlined at the bottom of the announcement.

It states: ‘The Walking Bus pilot program is in addition to security escorts offered by FMD Security Officers, who can escort you for several blocks from the building you work in, from downtown buildings to Goat Hill Garage or immediate vicinity bus stops.’ 

It is unclear how the guards have been instructed to defend themselves and city workers in the event of an attack. 

King County security staff are issued pepper spray and bulletproof vests as standard, having had batons and handcuffs they were once permitted to carry removed several years ago. 

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This map shows where the walking bus starts off - King County Courthouse - and the two different spots people who use it can be dropped off at by security guards

This map shows where the walking bus starts off – King County Courthouse – and the two different spots people who use it can be dropped off at by security guards 

The announcement was made as Carmen Best, the city’s first black female police chief, said she thinks the defund the police movement is finally dying out, and that even liberal residents of Seattle want to see more cops.

Best resigned in September 2020 after the City Council slashed the department by 100 officers following pressure from Black Lives Matter protests. 

Since then, she said, most people have wanted to see a greater police presence throughout the city – especially after a summer of violent crime that saw shootings in Seattle spike by 35% since the previous year. 

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Speaking with Fox News, she said, ‘You don’t hear it as much about defunding the police department. Because people want safety. It doesn’t matter what race they are, they want to be able to call 911 and know if they’re a victim of a crime that someone is going to show up and try to resolve it.’

King County employees will now have security guards escort them to their cars or public transportation hubs each evening after work amid a spike in crime. The move comes as Seattle's former police chief Carmen Best said that residents are eager to see more cops on the streets

King County employees will now have security guards escort them to their cars or public transportation hubs each evening after work amid a spike in crime. The move comes as Seattle’s former police chief Carmen Best said that residents are eager to see more cops on the streets

Best resigned in September 2020 after the City Council slashed the department by 100 officers following pressure from Black Lives Matter protests

Best resigned in September 2020 after the City Council slashed the department by 100 officers following pressure from Black Lives Matter protests

Unlike Seattle police, however, security guards with the county's Facilities Management Division are only allowed to carry pepper spray and wear a bulletproof vest while on patrol. Police above are patrolling during a Black Lives Matter protest in summer 2020

Unlike Seattle police, however, security guards with the county’s Facilities Management Division are only allowed to carry pepper spray and wear a bulletproof vest while on patrol. Police above are patrolling during a Black Lives Matter protest in summer 2020

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The Seattle City Council slashed the department by 100 officers following pressure from Black Lives Matter protests last summer. Above, police are patrolling a protest at the time

The Seattle City Council slashed the department by 100 officers following pressure from Black Lives Matter protests last summer. Above, police are patrolling a protest at the time

The Walking Bus program is one of the steps local officials have taken to approach the city’s spike in crime, though Best said that moves to reduce police enforcement have far outweighed measures to boost public safety.

When she resigned from her post over a year ago, she said that the city council’s budget cuts had left in a ‘position destined to fail.’ The city cut 100 positions at the time and the force has since lost 250 more, 100 of which were due to a Covid-19 vaccine mandate that forced employees to leave their jobs if they didn’t have the jab by October 18.

The city also slashed her salary, which she told Fox News was ‘attack on me personally because I was disagreeing with the policies that they were putting out about defunding the department; laying off officers so arbitrarily.’

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She added, however, ‘that’s not the reason I ultimately left. It was that I just couldn’t stay there in an organization where they were going to strip so many officers of their jobs.’

Best said that she values the important of recognizing issues in policing and learning from past ‘transgressions’ that spurred the Black Lives Matter movement, like the killing of George Floyd in May 2020. However, she said that taking officers off the streets is not the answer.

In one of the most recent crimes to shake the city, a hair salon in Seattle was robbed at gunpoint by three men wearing masks from the horror film Scream

In one of the most recent crimes to shake the city, a hair salon in Seattle was robbed at gunpoint by three men wearing masks from the horror film Scream 

She said, ‘Of course, you need to work out some of the issues and make sure they’re a fair and just response for everybody, but people do want a police response. So I think now we’re looking at how we can utilize other services to augment maybe some of the issues that are happening – but certainly not defunding the police department.’

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She added, ‘Of course we need our cops. But we can acknowledge the transgressions in the past and past history because acknowledging it is part of the step moving forward. We know that wrongs happened and now it’s time to look at policies and procedures and practices to help us to make sure that we have fair and just practices for everybody and having more people who represent the communities that we’re serving engaged and involved in policing.’ 

Shootings are up in Seattle by 35% this year to date – as opposed to 10% in Chicago, 18% in Atlanta and 22% in Los Angeles, according to Fox News.

In one of the most recent crimes to shake the city, a hair salon in Seattle was robbed at gunpoint by three men wearing masks from the horror film Scream.

Security footage, captured in the store in the Rainier Valley, showed the masked individuals entering the store at around 6.30pm on October 17. Janny Lam, the daughter of the store’s owner, said that money, car keys and wallets were all stolen in the raid – but that nobody was injured. 

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Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan issued an executive order last month offering $25,000 hiring bonuses for 911 dispatchers and police in an attempt to entice more recruits amid the loss of 350 officers

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan issued an executive order last month offering $25,000 hiring bonuses for 911 dispatchers and police in an attempt to entice more recruits amid the loss of 350 officers

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, who did not seek reelection and is being replaced by moderate Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell, issued an executive order last month offering $25,000 hiring bonuses for 911 dispatchers and police in an attempt to entice more recruits amid the loss of 350 officers.

But the union representing 1,300 police officers and sergeants said the move is too little, too late, particularly after Durkan sided with demands from activists and city lawmakers to defund the police.

The police union head accused Durkan of ‘politically betraying’ the police force by siding with those who called to defund the department after the death of George Floyd last year.

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‘The result of this betrayal has caused 350 police officers to flee Seattle since the riots,’ Mike Solan said.

‘Many of these former police employees left for lower paying agencies just to escape Seattle’s toxic political climate. We also have another 100 officers now off the street due to the Mayor’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate and another 130 officers currently unavailable for service who are out on extended leave,’ Solan said in a statement.

‘When totaled, that is just under half the department gone/unavailable in almost two years. Seattle’s current police staffing crisis was caused by our current politicians and sadly it all could’ve been avoided. This political betrayal will forever be their legacy.’

Police officers were particularly incensed by Durkan’s handling of the so-called ‘CHOP/CHAZ’ - the ‘autonomous zone’ set up by Black Lives Matter protesters after the ransacking of one of the Seattle Police Department’s precincts downtown last year

Police officers were particularly incensed by Durkan’s handling of the so-called ‘CHOP/CHAZ’ – the ‘autonomous zone’ set up by Black Lives Matter protesters after the ransacking of one of the Seattle Police Department’s precincts downtown last year 

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Police officers were particularly incensed by Durkan’s handling of the so-called ‘CHOP/CHAZ’ – the ‘autonomous zone’ set up by Black Lives Matter protesters after the ransacking of one of the Seattle Police Department’s precincts downtown.

The mayor referred to the events of last year as a ‘summer of love’ – a comment that did not sit well with police officers who felt under siege from the prevailing political climate. The autonomous zone was eventually cleared after a series of shootings in the area.

Durkan’s ‘civil emergency order’ acknowledges ’emergent staffing shortages’ affecting the Seattle Police Department.

The order states that the city is ‘experiencing a year-to-date 35 percent increase’ in shots fired incidents and a 76 percent jump in shots fired incidents compared to 2019.

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There has also been a 29% increase in the number of non-fatal shootings this year compared to last year, according to the mayor.

According to the mayor, the SPD’s current level of deployable police officers stands at 1,015 – down from 1,325 in 2019. She said the staffing shortages have caused response times to increase.

The staffing shortage is so acute that the SPD is sending detectives and non-patrol officers to respond to emergency calls.

The union president said he ‘would like to suggest to our current and soon to be newly elected politicians that if you want to hire new and lateral police officers, we suggest you also take care of your current officers.’

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‘These officers worked during the pandemic, are feeling the impacts of dangerous staffing levels and are without a union contract.

‘SPOG is looking forward to working with our new mayor and the current/new city council members to remedy our city’s issues.

‘Seattle deserves public safety, and is worth saving.’  

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