Seattle police union demands elected officials condemn violence toward officers
Mike Solan, president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, addressed members of the media outside the East Precinct in Capitol Hill on Monday, near the site where protesters have been gathering now for nearly two weeks.
“I’m here to acknowledge that we’re here with the Seattle community,” Solan said.
Solan expressed concern about the safety of his guild members, adding that conditions for officers on the front lines have not been good.
He’s also concerned about the calls to defund the police. Solan posed the question of what defunding the police would do to training, to the ability of having someone respond to 911 calls, to investigate abductions, kidnappings, and rape, among other criminal activities.
Solan and his members fully support more training, which he knows the community has asked for as well. Solan also said they welcome any investigation from the Office for Police Accountability.
“How can you remove funding for training when the community is screaming for more training?” Solan asked. “Which we fully support. We’re screaming for more training.”
Solan emphasized that there needs to be reasonable discussions, and that officers and members of the SPOG should be included in the conversations.
“We haven’t been asked to be a part of the stakeholders at the table for these discussions,” he said.
The SPOG has heard the community and is open to making changes, but Solan says they need to be included in reasonable, rational conversations about society’s concerns moving forward.
“Here’s what we’ve done: We’ve heard the community’s concerns about badges being covered,” Solan said. “What’s not being told is our positions on that because we’re not being brought to the table for those discussions.”
“We have nothing to hide. We serve you. It’s our only service to serve you,” he added.
Solan said they have no problem moving the mourning bands up to show their badge numbers, and making sure the officers’ names are visible as well. They’re also willing to follow updates to the rules surrounding the use of body cameras.
“We want to be as transparent and accountable as possible,” he said.
Solan does condemn the violence and the criminal agitators that have been at recent protests. There is what he referred to as “a small group of actors who don’t have our community in mind.”
“These are people who want to hurt and destroy police property … and our membership,” Solan said.
He’s disappointed in the local, elected officials who have heard, and in some cases filmed, attacks against officers but have not stepped up to condemn them.
“I can’t stand here anymore and not watch and not hear city leadership not protect our members,” Solan said.
Solan also said there have been rocks, bottles, and concrete pieces thrown at officers in recent days, and multiple officers have been injured. One of his close friends almost lost his right eye. He wants the violence against officers to stop.
“This precinct right here has CCTV … that has captured video of that criminal element at night that is provoking our officers,” Solan said.
While it is not his decision to release this video footage, he hopes it is shown to the media and to the public.
“The community needs to know what’s happening here,” he said. “… If the department isn’t going to release that video, we will.”
He also advocates for body camera footage to be released, and said that footage has evidence of the comments, insults, and objects being hurled at officers on the front lines.
“I had a member last night who’s from Ghana,” Solan said. “… He’s on the front line last night, and he was told by somebody in the crowd, ‘go back to your country.’ That’s an African American member of SPOG from Ghana who is being hurled insults racially.”
This and other similar incidents, as well as the projectiles thrown at officers, are examples of what Solan points to as unreasonable actions.