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Dori: Seattle police RV fire response was the anomaly, not the norm

(Seattle Police Department)

I love our cops. I really do. I have so many good friends who are police officers, including some Seattle Police Department members. It’s a tough job that they do.

But I have to admit, I was a little frustrated after I got off the air on Tuesday. We reported that day on the RV fire in SoDo that started out as a domestic dispute between a homeless man and woman, resulted in a SWAT team being called out, and ended with the man setting the RV on fire.

Seattle Police Department Sergeant Sean Whitcomb went on the Ron and Don Show Tuesday and said he “assumed” the woman living in the RV “was obeying the laws of the city and the state.” I think most of us who know the reality of the situation know that very few of these RV-dwellers are obeying the law. Just because the City of Seattle has decided it won’t enforce laws, that doesn’t mean that these people are obeying the laws. And I know the business owners in Pioneer Square and SoDo and Ballard and West Seattle regularly witness the countless crimes that come with these RVs, such as drug use, public defecation, and prostitution. Let’s not pretend that they are obeying the law.

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Now this isn’t a criticism of Sgt. Sean Whitcomb. He’s a spokesperson. But they were putting such a positive spin on the police response and saying that these were just people obeying the law while living on the street.

He claimed on the show that the Seattle Police Department does respond to calls. Frankly, I don’t believe that. I have seen so much open heroin use all over Seattle, even at children’s playfields. There is de-policing going on in Seattle, and I have had Seattle cops tell me that. Seattle police officers have told me that they’re afraid if they do anything, they’re going to be raked over the coals. Take the cop who tackled the guy with the ice axe — he was brilliant and courageous, and waited for just the right moment to take down the guy, without hurting him or any innocent person on the street. And he faced disciplinary action for that within the department. The cops are paralyzed — even if they do everything right, they’re afraid they’ll be punished.

This was a domestic violence situation. And we want to protect all women, regardless of their housing situation. But I know that there are a lot of people who report crimes and can’t get police to come out. And I know there are business owners who are horribly frustrated. The homelessness crisis is through the roof.

I disagree with the sergeant’s interpretation of how we should look at Tuesday’s event. It was reported as a great triumph of the Seattle Police Department. Actually, I thought it was an aberration. It did not in any way reflect the reality of what business owners and homeowners, and bicycle theft victims and people whose kids are playing on soccer fields littered with heroin needles are going through. I got so angry as I was listening to them make this such a positive PR story. I don’t think there are many people who believe that was the normative response to crime in this city.

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