The head of Seattle’s police union is telling officers here to be on high alert following the shooting deaths of two officers in New York City over the weekend.
Ron Smith, president of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild, said patrol officers riding alone will be allowed to ride in two-person cars for the time being.
“Their profession might be law enforcement, but their job is to go home to their families at the end of their shift,” said Smith.
“I think they should be highly vigilant at all times,” he told KIRO Radio. “I just think right now, based on the rhetoric around the country, some things on social media and some of the graffiti being posted around the country, that officers need to be on high alert.”
Smith said the assassination of NYPD Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were gunned down while sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn on Saturday, brought back painful memories here in the Northwest.
On Halloween might 2009, SPD Officer Timothy Brenton was shot and killed while sitting in his patrol car near 29th and Yesler. Just one month later, four Lakewood police officers were gunned down while sitting in a coffee shop.
“They were murdered because of the uniform that they wore, not because of who they were. Not because of what they stood for,” said Smith.
Following the events in New York, Assistant Seattle PD Chief Nick Metz sent a message of support to officers:
Unfortunately, for many of us in Western Washington, what happened in NYC opens deep wounds that we thought had started to heal. Many of us can relate to what the NYPD and NYC is going through.
Even in the midst of incredible grief immediately following the tragic death of two of their own, our brothers and sisters of NYPD will do just like we’ve done:
1- they will continue to respond to emergency and service calls and represent themselves with the highest level of distinction.
2- they will continue to go that extra mile for folks who are truly in need of their assistance.
3- they will continue to not allow themselves to get baited into saying or doing something inappropriate, because they know that their own personal professionalism won’t allow them to demean the pride of our profession.
4- they will continue to honor the memory of Officers Rafael Ramos & Wenjian Liu by modeling the kind of professionalism that will make their surviving friends and families proud.
5- they will continue to demonstrate that policing is the noblest of noble professions. Though the officers won’t have the luxury of shutting their business down to grieve and get their stuff together, they will be there to aid and comfort when lives are destroyed to violence, when the homeless are robbed and beaten, when families are in turmoil, and the other THOUSANDS of requests for service received every day.
6- they will continue to do the right thing…not because department policy dictates…but because they take pride and believe in their own personal and professional ethics.
7- they will not allow the media to create divisiveness between them and those communities that need their services the most.
To my brothers and sisters in law enforcement, though the media will rarely tell you this, the majority of the folks we serve, even in the most challenging of communities, support and appreciate you…and most importantly…they need you.
Though this is a very difficult period, continue to not only be proud of belonging to such an incredible profession, but knowing that you work along side the best of the best in law enforcement.
Though this will be a difficult holiday season for many, you can honor those 113 officers, who in 2014 were killed in the line of duty, by using this time to build wonderful memories with friends, family and co-workers.
Please take care of yourselves, and each other.
Nicholas Metz, Assistant Chief
Patrol Operations Bureau
Smith said despite events in New York and recent anti-police brutality protests nationwide, he believes a “silent majority” of citizens support law enforcement professionals.
“Those people who are busy with jobs, busy raising children, busy coaching teams, busy volunteering in their community, who don’t have enough time to usually walk up to a police officer, or a law enforcement officer, and let them know they support them,” he said. “We know it, they don’t have to say it. We know they do.”