Retired WA cop: Abandoning East Precinct in Seattle ‘unconscionable’

Jun 10, 2020, 1:18 PM | Updated: 2:27 pm
East Precinct, Seattle protests, capitol hill seattle...
Protesters gathered at the East Precinct Monday night. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

After a weekend of rumors, the Seattle Police Department has essentially abandoned the East Precinct in Capitol Hill, removing valuable items like equipment and evidence from the building, which has been the site for some tense and sometimes violent protests over the last several nights.

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best announced Monday that the barricades would be removed from the East Precinct, the department’s footprint in the area would be reduced, and protesters would have access to the area around the building. Former president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild and retired Sergeant Ron Smith joined the Jason Rantz Show to discuss.

“My take is that it’s unconscionable that they would give it up, and let it burn to the ground like what happened in Minneapolis … so I don’t know what to think,” Smith said. “I spent my first five years on the department working graveyards out of that building and a combined eight additional years with investigative units in the second floor of that building.”

“It is beyond me that you could let a taxpayer funded building go by the wayside,” he added.

The SPD has said it won’t allow the precinct building to be destroyed, but Jason wondered at what point the department would intervene. The boarding up seems to indicate they expect at the very least that it’s going to be vandalized. At what point would the SPD, generally speaking, get involved?

“The preservation of life comes first, and then property is second or third down the list, but you’re talking about a police building with critical things inside of it,” Smith said. “I cannot imagine if people started taking crowbars trying to pry off the plywood, or started trying to light it on fire that there would not be orders to engage that conduct.”

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As Jason noted, some of the messaging on Twitter from Antifa seems to support this kind of extreme pressure and often includes hateful vitriol against police. Has Smith seen this kind of vitriol ratchet up over the course of the last several years?

“I sat on a panel when I was still the president of Seattle Police Officers Guild about body cameras, and I got ambushed by these Antifa people screaming about abolishing the police, abolishing this, abolishing that, get rid of the cops,” he said.

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“So this has been something that’s been going on for at least four, five, six years where somehow there’s a movement afoot to get rid of law enforcement and somehow come up with a community-based solution to deal with crime that goes on. That’s just not palatable. That’s just not reality.”

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Retired WA cop: Abandoning East Precinct in Seattle ‘unconscionable’