Rantz: Another ‘defund’ Seattle councilmember reports crimes to police she gutted
Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, a leading proponent of the “defund police” movement, keeps using limited resources from the department she gutted. More ironically, she’s reporting crimes that may be effectively legalized under legislation she’s advancing. This isn’t even the first time.
Herbold reported two harassing, threatening phone calls to the Seattle Police Department in the last several weeks. One was made to her office phone, possibly from a repeat offender. The second, from a separate caller, was made to Herbold’s personal cell phone. Both were anonymous.
Both alleged crimes may be effectively legalized under the councilmember’s “poverty defense” bill. This is yet another example of why Herbold should rethink her anti-police posture and poverty defense bill.
‘Defund Police’ proponent calls police again
Just because Herbold is working overtime to cut an already underfunded police department, doesn’t mean she’s above using what little resources they have when she’s a victim. At least this time she (and her staff) contacted the SPD to report the calls. In the past, Herbold personally texted the Chief of Police for VIP treatment.
A staff member for Herbold reported a threatening voicemail left on the councilmember’s office line on Jan. 16 of this year. The caller was male and the number unidentified. The police report details the call’s content:
The caller takes exception to victim’s proposal on new defenses for misdemeanor crimes. The caller continues to berate the victim through profane language, and states that she better not run again. The caller then goes on to state that if anyone who should have been in jail harms him or his family he is going to pay her a visit. The caller does not elaborate on what he intends to do, though the inference that he is going to cause her harm is clear. The caller then stated that he hopes that the victim is victimized and that her family is harmed. The call abruptly ends after that.
Under the Herbold proposal the caller references, this call might provide him an affirmative defense. Telephone calls to harass, intimidate, torment or embarrass — which include “lewd,” “profane,” and “threatening” content — are misdemeanors under Seattle Criminal Code.
But under the draft bill on which Herbold based her poverty defense, the caller could get a pass if he made the call while “experiencing symptoms of a behavioral health disorder,” like anxiety. Scott Lindsay, former public safety adviser to Mayor Ed Murray, noted in a white paper that “there is no practical way for a prosecutor to disprove a defendant’s claim that they are experiencing symptoms of a mental disorder.”
A second phone call: Watch your back
Herbold also received a menacing phone call on her personal cell.
A female caller left a brief message on the morning of Dec. 16, 2020. Herbold forwarded the voice mail in an email to police. The message said: “Lisa, Lisa, Lisa, the cops aren’t going to save you, honey, we’re coming for you watch your [expletive] back, [expletive].”
The caller blocked their ID so the police, at the time, did not have a suspect. This case is still ongoing.
Again, under the poverty defense, this behavior may be excusable if the caller experienced emotional impairment at the time.
Both voicemails are despicable, and if they rise to the level of criminal behavior, they should be prosecuted. If it’s done before Herbold’s poverty defense bill, they may see punishment. Politicians, however ill-equipped to lead a city, do not deserve this kind of harassment. I’ve received the same kinds of harassment. It can be scary.
These incidents should again be a wake-up call that Herbold’s push to defund police and effectively legalize criminal behavior is dangerous. Indeed, Herbold knows the behavior is wrong. It is why she reported the voicemails to police. But Herbold has shown no public interest in rolling back her protections for criminals.
At the same time, she’s reporting crimes she’s effectively trying to legalize to an understaffed and under-resourced police department. The SPD finds itself in that position because of her actions.
Does the councilmember not realize that there are no carveouts giving special protections to councilmembers? She is drafting the legislation. Maybe she’ll try to sneak it in? After all, her socialist colleague Kshama Sawant demanded VIP treatment from the police after she received threats.
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