Former Seattle cop, council candidate not surprised police are leaving town
Seattle police who are leaving the city are not going quietly. Through documented exit interviews, they are letting the city know why they are moving on. In short, “it’s not me, it’s you.”
“On the one hand, I’m not terribly surprised by anything, but it always saddens me to read these things,” Seattle Police Lieutenant Brendan Kolding told the Saul Spady Show on KTTH. “When you see them in black and white, and you hear people talk to you, you get to know them a bit … and then what they choose to say as they are going out the door really shows how far morale has dropped on the SPD.”
Kolding is not only a former Seattle police lieutenant, he’s also running for Seattle City Council in District 1, covering much of West Seattle.
Reporting by KUOW this week revealed a series of accounts from exiting Seattle police officers. KUOW obtained exit interviews from officers leaving the department, or who were retiring. A common sentiment was expressed across multiple exit interviews — Seattle doesn’t want them here; they are worried about an overzealous Office of Police Accountability; city leaders don’t support police and work against them.
One officer simply wrote “City Council sucks.” Another account from a retiring police officer stated:
I have had enough. There is a severe lack of support from the leadership in our city … Comments by city council calling us murderers and saying that we are all bad officers doesn’t city well with those that put their lives on the line for them every day. We’ve undergone scrutiny for years calling us racists and heavy handed/using too much force. They stated that we needed reform, allowed DOJ to come in and they never left, even though their investigations proved that we were not the things they were calling us … OPA continually using our videos as fishing expeditions to create additional complaints even though the initial complaint was proven false …. This all just proves that our department is in a downhill tail spin with no end in sight and it had been going on for the past 10 years. The mass exodus should speak volumes about what the officers think about all of the changes and what they have done to this department.
While Kolding wasn’t surprised by the reported exit interviews, he said he was surprised to see the names included – they are officers he knows.
“These are the officers we need working the streets in Seattle,” Kolding said. “The people in our community deserve good officers like this serving in their neighborhoods, and the fact that the city is driving them away is really very disheartening.”
But the support for police in Seattle does exist, despite the low moral and city leadership, Kolding argues.
“What I find really encouraging is when I knock on people’s doors (campaigning for council), I meet people I’ve never met before, I explain that I’ve worked for the SPD,” he said. “Their first reaction is ‘Oh well thank you for your service.’ The community really supports law enforcement. They want effective law enforcement.”
“So, I really believe that our our blue city does support law enforcement, and wants effective law enforcement, and the Seattle liberalism is not as far left as people might think,” Kolding said. “We really are a very reasonable fair justice-oriented city. And for the longest time we’ve had a very small slice of political ideology defining our agenda and hence we’re in crisis.”