Seattle’s police officers will now respond to protests and rioting through “adjusted deployment” methods because of a new city law that bans them from using some crowd-control tools, the city’s police chief said Friday.
The new law, which takes effect Sunday, “bans Seattle Police officers the use of less lethal tools, including pepper spray that is commonly used to disperse crowds that have turned violent,” police Chief Carmen Best said in a statement.
“Simply put,” Best added, “the legislation gives officers NO ability to safely intercede to preserve property in the midst of a large, violent crowd.”
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City Council Ordinance 119805, issued by the City Council earlier this week, bans tear gas, blast balls and other anti-protest gear used to disperse crowds and protect officers when crowds turn violent.
U.S. District Judge James Robart ruled Wednesday that the City Council’s plan could proceed — despite an attempt by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Best to stop the plan.
The mayor and the police chief submitted a motion arguing that the new law would conflict with an eight-year-old settlement on a policing-overhaul agreement struck between the Seattle Police Department and the U.S. Justice Department.
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The police overhaul was prompted by Justice Department findings pointing to patterns of biased policing and excessive use of force by Seattle officers. Durkan and Best had argued to Robart that the new city law might interfere with terms of the accord struck with the Justice Department.
“It is important to bring to your attention that yesterday, I sent the City Council a letter ensuring them that as the Chief of Police, I have done my due diligence of informing them numerous times of the foreseeable impact of this ordinance on upcoming events,” Best said Friday.
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“For these reasons,” she continued, “Seattle Police will have an adjusted deployment in response to any demonstrations this weekend – as I will never ask our officers to risk their personal safety to protect property without the tools to do so in a safe way.”
Best’s announcement came less than a week after body-camera footage showed rioters throwing objects at Seattle officers last Sunday, resulting in injuries to 12 officers.
Fox News’ Dom Calicchio contributed to this report.