Seattle police union pushes back against council ban on tear gas, chokeholds

Jun 19, 2020, 7:31 AM

Seattle police, tear gas, OPA, less lethal weapons...

Police clashing with Seattle protesters in early June of 2020. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

After Seattle City Council passed legislation banning the use of chokeholds, tear gas, pepper spray, and other crowd control weapons by police, the union representing rank and file officers is pushing back.

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A recent statement from Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) President Mike Solan claims that the bills passed by the council are subject to mandatory bargaining because they constitute safety concerns for officers. The City Attorney’s office has similarly told city officials that bargaining may be required for these bills “because they enact changes to police officers’ working conditions,” says a report from The Seattle Times.

The pair of bills banning chokeholds and crowd control weapons were passed by the council unanimously last week. The latter measure would prevent the ownership, purchase, rental, storage, or use of weapons like tear gas, pepper spray, and more by police.

Councilmember Kshama Sawant — the primary sponsor on both bills — touted their passage as “critical” to the start of “more structural changes” to how the city views policing.

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This comes amid continued turmoil for Seattle’s police union, after King County’s largest labor organization voted this week to expel SPOG.

The council — named for Martin Luther King Jr. and representing over 100,000 King County workers — made the decision late Wednesday night after a lengthy role call vote. The council needed 40,000 votes from delegates to move forward with the expulsion, garnering over 45,000 in favor of the move.

Solan labeled the decision to expel the union as “deeply disappointing and concerning,” as well as a “troubling political decision.”

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Seattle police union pushes back against council ban on tear gas, chokeholds