SPOG Response to Mayor Durkan

           FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SPOG RESPONSE TO MAYOR DURKAN

 

Mayor Durkan’s Civil Emergency Order publicly released yesterday (10-29-21)  Civil Emergency Order PS Hiring.pdf misses the mark on addressing the current public safety staffing crisis plaguing Seattle. While the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild is thankful that Mayor Durkan acknowledges that the Seattle Police Department is in a staffing crisis, dangling money to recruit new or lateral hires won’t get the job done. Seattle cannot simply hire enough people to balance the loss of so many officers as other agencies across the nation are competing for those same jobs.

In response to Mayor Durkan’s civil order, SPOG President Mike Solan said the following, “Seattle’s politicians just days before George Floyd launched a public relations campaign to convince our Seattle community that the Seattle Police Department had met all Department of Justice settlement agreement benchmarks of reform. They boasted that the Seattle Police Department was the modeled reformed police agency for other police agencies to emulate. As a result, outside agencies from across the nation flew into Seattle to learn from our Department of Justice reform work. It is absolutely stunning to me that when George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis, MN, these same politicians walked back any support of the Seattle Police Department thus politically betraying their police employees. The result of this betrayal has caused 350 police officers to flee Seattle since the riots. Many of these former police employees left for lower paying agencies just to escape Seattle’s toxic political climate. We also have another 100 officers now off the street due to the Mayor’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate and another 130 officers currently unavailable for service who are out on extended leave. When totaled, that is just under half the department gone/unavailable in almost two years. Seattle’s current police staffing crisis was caused by our current politicians and sadly it all could’ve been avoided. This political betrayal will forever be their legacy.”

Seattle police officers are some of the best trained officers in the nation. Many agencies heavily recruit our officers. SPOG would like to suggest to our current and soon to be newly elected politicians that if you want to hire new and lateral police officers, we suggest you also take care of your current officers. These officers worked during the pandemic, are feeling the impacts of dangerous staffing levels and are without a union contract. SPOG is looking forward to working with our new mayor and the current/new city council members to remedy our city’s issues. Seattle deserves public safety, and is worth saving.

SPOG Board of Directors

SPOG Reaction to the City of Seattle’s Vaccine Mandate

SPOG Reaction to the City of Seattle’s Vaccine Mandate

As we are all aware, today is the deadline for officers of the Seattle Police Department to upload their COVID-19 Vaccine Verifications.  According to the City of Seattle, failure to do so will lead to separation from city employment. This means more losses of police jobs and an alarming escalation in crime which may lead to an untenable public safety crisis. While the SPOG is continuing to negotiate in good faith, the city is still moving forward with their mandate and acting in bad faith.

Throughout the last nineteen months, SPOG members have continued to comply with CDC guidelines to keep our community safe. SPOG members answered your 911 calls for help even while exposing ourselves to the virus. And while working on the front lines, our COVID-19 transmittal rates have been extremely low.

As we’ve lost close to three hundred and fifty police officers on the street in the last year and a half, protecting the officers still left to answer 911 calls is of critical importance. Approximately one hundred of these officers have applied for and were approved for medical and religious exemptions from the mayor’s mandate. Instead of working to find reasonable accommodations, the City of Seattle has chosen to deny these officers the ability to continue to serve the public. Though we’ve read in the media that the department is working toward accommodations, the SPOG believes this is untrue. We have been told that all religious accommodations will be denied. Additionally, today, our members who had received medical accommodations received word that “SPD is unable to identify a reasonable accommodation for your current position” and these officers will no longer be allowed to be police officers. One of these officers is an organ transplant recipient who cannot get the vaccine(s) due to anti-rejection medication. Another is a pregnant female officer who has a contraindication to the vaccine(s). These officers want to continue to serve the public but are now sadly being made to choose between their life or their job.

Seattle Police Officers’ Guild President Mike Solan said the following, “SPOG members want to continue to show up tomorrow to serve our community. These terrific human beings want to be the ones who answer the 911 calls for help. SPOG has requested that the City of Seattle follow other large American cities such as San Jose, Chicago and Milwaukee as they have allowed reasonable accommodations for their police officers through masking and testing. SPOG believes that this is a reasonable request to slow down the spiraling staffing crisis currently facing the Seattle Police Department. Though we’ve heard and seen the city’s media blitz today on the current vaccine verification numbers, SPOG has asked the city for clarification on these numbers as we believe that the city is not being fully transparent. Trading the COVID-19 public health crisis for a looming public safety staffing crisis is gross mismanagement. SPOG believes that this isn’t about whether or not you’re vaccinated, it is strictly about saving jobs and continuing to provide public safety to the City of Seattle.”

 

The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild is proud to represent the remaining Seattle Police Officers still serving our community and we believe the profession of law enforcement is noble. Police officers are fantastic human beings.

 

 

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Public Safety Crisis

Public Safety Crisis

The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild is disappointed that the Seattle City Council continues to be anti-public safety. Yesterday’s council vote that blocked any measures of recruiting and retaining police officers is another blow to our community’s safety and well-being. This vote comes at a time when Seattle is already facing historic crime statistics and a police staffing crisis never seen before in our history. For the first time in the modern era, Seattle is now under one thousand deployable SPOG members who are the rank and file police officers and sergeants who respond to 911 calls and conduct follow up investigations. SPD has lost an unprecedented 300+ officers in the last year and a half with another anticipated mass exodus expected over the next month. This will continue to add to response times and restrict the ability for follow up investigations.

SPOG President Mike Solan said the following, “I want to thank Councilmember Pedersen for his public safety amendments. Sadly, the majority of the council are continuing their anti-police rhetoric by disregarding public safety. It is obvious that the majority of the council still gets their marching orders from the small activist class who continue to dictate the public safety discourse in our city. This activist class DO NOT reflect our city’s values. Everyone deserves public safety. It is shameful that these elected officials continually fail to represent their constituents.”

The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild is proud to represent the remaining officers who continue to serve our community. We are proud to call ourselves police officers.

 

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Vaccine Mandate for Seattle City Workers

Vaccine Mandate for Seattle City Workers

The Seattle Police Officers Guild believes that City of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s announcement today ordering all City of Seattle workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 18th, 2021 or face termination is a mandatory subject of bargaining. Mayor Durkan’s timeline for vaccination doesn’t provide enough time for labor relations to bargain the decision of effects. SPOG was not consulted with this decision. The question remains, if our community is 82.5% vaccinated and the majority of SPOG members are vaccinated against COVID-19, why
now mandate vaccines?

SPOG members have continued to work on the front lines during COVID-19. We have a low transmission rate. While other city workers were allowed to work from home, SPOG members continued to serve our community.

SPOG is concerned for the safety and wellbeing of all of our members including those with personal vaccination beliefs. Our Seattle community is already experiencing a Seattle Police Department staffing crisis. Given this crisis; which in part resulting in an alarming crime wave, can Seattle now endure more losses of police officers due to Mayor Durkan’s vaccination order?

The Seattle Police Officers Guild is the largest police labor union in the State of Washington. We represent over 1000 sworn officers and sergeants.

 

 

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Lexi Harris Benevolent Fund Details

LEGACY MEMORIAL ACCOUNT ESTABLISHED FOR SPD OFFICER LEXI HARRIS
FUNDS WILL GO TO SUPPORT COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS AND FAMILY

(Seattle, WA) — A memorial fund to honor fallen Seattle Police Officer Alexandra “Lexi” Harris has been established by the Seattle Police Officers Guild. The Officer Lexi Harris Benevolent Account will be used to continue her legacy of compassion, community service and support for and organizations in her hometown.

In the early morning hours on Sunday, June 13, 2021, Harris stopped to assist motorists involved in a multi-vehicle collision on Interstate 5 in Seattle. While out of her car rendering assistance, Lexi was tragically struck by another passing motorist and killed.

Born and raised in Seattle, Lexi served her community out of SPD’s West Precinct, Bicycle Patrol, Wellness Unit and Community Response Group. Her passion revolved around her family, friends, martial arts, and improving community relations whether on or off-duty.

Lexi was a dedicated Seattle Police officer who loved her work and was committed to bringing her considerable thoughtfulness and vision to the challenges of serving the community through compassionate policing. She also was a daughter, sister, a partner and “mother-by-choice” and for whom family was paramount. Her sudden death leaves a hole in the fabric of the lives of her family, coworkers, and friends.

One hundred percent of donations to the Officer Lexi Harris Benevolent Account will go to provide support for her family and organizations that can help carry on Lexi’s mission of community service. While no specific programs have been identified, the types of organizations that Lexi worked with throughout her life would benefit. They could include programs that support youth fitness, women and girls, leadership, guidance, and training, as well as organizations that promote trust and understanding between the police and the community.

Lexi’s always looked for the good in everyone and she never stopped giving, mentoring, and serving, whether with her family or people in crisis on the street.

Donations can be made at https://seattlepoliceofficers.com/lexi/

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Editors:

Video/audio clips of the family may be used in your coverage. They area available HERE
Featured in the clips are Laird Harris (father), Rebecca Brenneman (mother) Jeremiah Neuman (fiancé)

Officer Harris Benevolent Account contact:

Mike Solan
Seattle Police Officers Guild
mike@seattlepoliceguild.org

Lexi Harris family contact:
Barbara Smith
barbara@harrisandsmith.com

Donate to the Officer Lexi Harris Benevolent Account

Please consider making a donation to the Officer Lexi Harris Benevolent Account.  100% of every dollar raised will go to her family so they can help carry on Lexi’s mission of community service.  DONATE: HERE

In the early morning hours on Sunday, June 13, 2021 Officer Alexandra “Lexi” Harris took police action when she assisted motorists involved in a multi-vehicle collision on Interstate 5 in Seattle. While out of her car rendering assistance, Lexi was tragically struck by another passing motorist and killed.

Seattle Police Guild President Mike Solan said, “Seattle lost an incredible police officer on Sunday morning. Moreover, humanity lost a piece of its foundation as her spirit was called for another service. She exemplified how a public safety peace officer should conduct themselves. This is a terrible loss to our family and we will never forget her sacrifice, courage, strength and spirit. She was known as our Wonder Woman. It was an honor and privilege to have know her.”

Originally from Seattle, Lexi served her community out of SPD’s West Precinct, Wellness Unit and in the Community Response Group. Her passion revolved around martial arts, spending time with friends, family, and improving community relations whether on or off-duty. Lexi leaves behind a fiancé, his two daughters and her parents.  DONATE: HERE

Seattle Police Department Line of Duty Death

Seattle Police Department Line of Duty Death

 The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) is confirming the tragic Line of Duty Death involving one of our members. Yesterday at approximately 0118 hours, a Seattle Police Officer took police action to assist a motorist on I-5 within the City of Seattle. Sadly, while serving the community, the officer was fatally struck by another vehicle and died at the scene.

Seattle Police Officers’ Guild President Mike Solan said the following, “Seattle lost an incredible police officer yesterday morning. Moreover, humanity lost a piece of its foundation as her spirit was called for another service. She exemplified how a public safety peace officer should conduct themselves. This is a terrible loss to our family and we will never forget her sacrifice, courage, strength and spirit. She was our Wonder Woman. It was an honor and a privilege to have known her.”

SPOG is providing resources to assist the family and we are working closely with the department during this difficult time. Out of respect for the officer’s family, we will not be naming the officer until the Seattle Police Department officially comments. Police officers are fantastic humans.

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SPOG Reaction to OIG Lisa Judge / Gay Pride Parade Ban

The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) strongly disagrees with the Office of Inspector General Lisa Judge’s recent open letter to Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz advocating that SPD stop conducting traffic stops within the City of Seattle. SPOG also condemns in the strongest language possible any entity involved in scheduling events for Seattle’s Gay Pride Week that has already decided to ban Seattle Police officers from participating.

In reaction to both of these decisions, SPOG President Mike Solan said the following, “Inspector Judge’s stance advocating that Seattle Police officers no longer conduct traffic stops in our community is absolutely ill advised, reckless, bizarre and non sensical. It is not rooted in facts and contradicts city data. It reeks of activist virtue signaling and perpetuates the false narrative that Seattle Police officers serve our community through a lens of bias. Inspector Judge should know that our courts decide what is an infringement on civil liberties and not a City of Seattle employee. As we all know, one year ago Mayor Durkan and City Council President Gonzalez boasted that SPD was the model reformed police agency. Can you imagine what will happen if police stop enforcing our city and State traffic laws in our community? What the Inspector General is advocating for could result in more crime impacting our community which has already seen an extraordinary increase in crime. Does this now signal people to stop registering their vehicles and completely disregard the rule of law? I’m sure the insurance industry will view her position as derelict and deeply troubling.

Solan added the following on the banishment of Seattle Officers from Pride Week, “Banning Seattle Police officers from Pride Week events is disgusting, bigoted, discriminatory and contradicts our community’s beautiful inclusive LGBTQ message. Our LGBTQ members serve our community with distinction and pride. They value inclusiveness and demand respect not only for proudly being LGBTQ but for serving our community as police officers. Anyone that believes in their banishment has no place in Seattle and does not believe in the inclusive LGBTQ message. To date, close to 300 police officers have left our agency. The Inspector General’s position pertaining to traffic stops and the bigoted decisions banning officers from Pride Week events do not aid in stopping this mass exodus of cops. All we ask as SPOG members is some reasonable messaging of support from our elected officials and people in positions of power/influence. Police are fantastic human beings especially SPOG members.”

The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild is the largest police labor group on the Pacific Northwest. We represent line officers and sergeants.

 

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CBS News Interview

CBS News interviews a former SPD officer and SPOG member that finally had enough of the lack of city leadership. WATCH: https://youtu.be/vlqM6ntHdjU

COMPAS: Departure of Long Time Executive Director Renee Maher

The Council of Metropolitan Police and Sheriffs (COMPAS) announces the departure of long time Executive Director Renee Maher.

COMPAS is the lobbying organization originally created to represent the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild, the King County Police Officers’ Guild and Port of Seattle police officers. While Port of Seattle officers are no longer part of COMPAS, the Puget Sound Police Managers’ Association eventually joined as well. The organization only represents active, fully-commissioned law enforcement officers and focuses on statewide issues affecting officers’ pension and collective bargaining rights. Ms. Maher has been the only Executive Director since the position was created.

“I was hired in September 2009, one month before we lost Tim Brenton in the line of duty,” she said. “I will never forget those first few months on the job when we lost Tim, then four Lakewood officers, followed by Pierce County Deputy Kent Mundell in December and then Grant County Deputy John Bernard in early January 2010. It was beyond overwhelming especially being new to the organization.” Still, Maher said she embraced the opportunity to advocate on behalf of officers and their families.

“As the surviving spouse of a Federal Way officer shot and killed in the line of duty, I brought a unique perspective to the conversation. I’m also a licensed attorney in two states and a former prosecutor so I see the world from many different angles. Most police officers don’t want awards or accolades, they just want to do their jobs knowing they are serving their communities. But those officers – and their families – pay a heavy price for that service,” Maher commented. “One of my main objectives in this job was to remind people that officers are members of the community, they have spouses and children, and every year several of those officers will make the ultimate sacrifice in service to their community. We shouldn’t ever forget that.”

“Renee has been an incredible advocate not just for officers in Seattle and King County, but across the entire state,” remarked COMPAS President Mike Solan. “We are grateful for all of her hard work and we want her to know that she will always be a big part of the law enforcement family.”

When asked why she was leaving, Maher simply said, “It was time.” While she acknowledges that it will be difficult to leave COMPAS after so many years, Maher chooses to focus on the accomplishes of the organization. Since coming on board, COMPAS spearheaded the Jason McKissack Act in 2010 that provided medical insurance coverage for catastrophically disabled officers and firefighters and their families. Jason McKissack was a Seattle Police Officer who was viciously attacked while on duty in West Seattle. While assisting a person being attacked by a group, the mob turned on Officer McKissack and he was repeatedly kicked in the head. He never returned to duty. Officer Mckissack, no longer able to work in any capacity, then lost medical insurance for himself and his family through the Seattle Police Department.

“It was a disgustingly accurate statement to say that an officer or firefighter was better off dead than injured or disabled because line of duty death benefits would kick in and help their family in their time of need,” Maher pointed out. “When we passed the Jason McKissack Act, that was no longer true. Our officers and firefighters no longer needed to die in the line of duty to know their families and their futures would be secure.” Maher paused then continued, “Getting that bill passed helped others besides Jason McKissack. It also helped Seattle firefighter Mark Jones who was catastrophically disabled after falling 15 feet down a fire-station pole hole. There were so many others who had been injured and seemingly forgotten who now would have medical coverage. Helping those families was one of my proudest moments in all of my professional career.”

COMPAS also was instrumental in getting the Blue Alert passed in 2012 after the death of Washington State Trooper Tony Radulescu. The Blue Alert, patterned after the Amber Alert, created a statewide alert system to speed the apprehension of violent criminals who kill or seriously injure local, state or federal law enforcement officers. COMPAS also worked to ensure that the LEOFF 2 pension system was fully funded and protected so that when officers retired, they knew the pension earned over their law enforcement career was going to be there for them and their families.

Maher also stressed that many of these victories were a group effort. “I’m extremely grateful for the strong relationships we have established over the years. The Washington State Council of Firefighters are incredible partners to have in the legislative arena. The same is true for the Law Enforcement Officer and Firefighter Plan 2 (LEOFF 2) Board. Executive Director Steve Nelsen and his staff are second to none. They will move mountains to help first responders and their families.” COMPAS has also participated in workgroups, rulemaking and on-going work sessions related to police reforms.

When asked if she could impart any lessons learned in the last 12 years, Maher had two responses. “I would like the people of Seattle and King County to know that we have some of the best trained, most diverse members of law enforcement right here in our backyard. These are hard working men and women willing to die to save you and your families. We really see an immense amount of appreciation and support when we lose an officer in the line of duty. But it shouldn’t take an officer to die for us to appreciate their service because then it’s too late. They’ll never read the hundreds of cards received by the family or see the people standing along the funeral procession route. We need officers to know that we support them while they are still here serving our communities.”

The second point Maher hoped to convey was addressed to the officers and deputy sheriffs she has had the honor to represent. “Don’t assume that one political party supports you and one does not. I’ve met incredible people on both sides of the political aisle who support our officers and their families. Former Speaker of the House Frank Chopp was one of the most genuine, compassionate, honest and patient people I’ve ever met in the political arena. He was always willing to listen to the concerns of law enforcement. The same was true with former Governor Christine Gregoire. It’s easy to see the world as “us v. them” but politics is never black or white. It’s always somewhere in the middle. The most important thing is to stay involved and be your own best advocate.”