Extreme censorship: Seattle mayor takes control of police department messaging; PIO ‘involuntarily reassigned’

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SEATTLE, WA – A major communications policy change coming from the Seattle mayor’s office opens the door to City Hall spin and is not sitting well with the union that represents about 1,300 Seattle police officers.

On Wednesday, Sgt. Randy Huserik, the Public Information Officer for the Seattle Police Department, was involuntarily reassigned after a heated meeting with the mayor, according to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

 

The change occurred after Mayor Bruce Harrell criticized perceived miscommunications between his office and the SPD, a source told Rantz.

The shakeup was apparently prompted by two incidents in which SPD messaging didn’t “align” with the mayor’s wishes. According to Rantz, Harrell then issued the command that the department run all messaging through the mayor’s office.

A source said that during the meeting with the mayor, Huserik argued that, in some circumstances such as a public safety emergency, it would not be practical to first contact the mayor’s office before alerting the public.

The next day, Huserik was informed that he would be involuntarily reassigned.

Besides removing authority from the police department in communicating with the media and public, the move raises questions of a power grab by the mayor. With complete authority over messaging, the office of the mayor would be in a position to spin issues in a way that benefits Harrell politically.
Seattle Police Officers Guild President Officer Mike Solan touches on that issue as well as the treatment of Huserik in an email to Rantz. He said that “some of the information shared with our community is at times filtered intentionally by City Hall to fit a specific political narrative.” Solan further explained:

“I think the sergeant’s recent removal/involuntary transfer from SPD Public Affairs is indicative of City Hall wanting to control 100% of the public safety narrative from SPD Public Affairs. It is clear that if you deviate from City Hall’s narrative control, you’ll get removed.

“This sergeant has carried the water for SPD Public Affairs for over two years and has worked exceptionally hard for our community. As the labor organization that represents line officers and sergeants within SPD, we must advocate for all members.

“The SPD Public Affairs sergeant that was involuntarily transferred is yet another example of the city intentionally violating our CBA. SPOG will continue to professionally represent our members, and we are proud to be Seattle police officers.”

Harrell reportedly was angry with two recent incidents which he blamed on the SPD but appear to actually have been initiated by his own office.

According to Rantz,  the mayor held a meeting after the Seattle Times reported that he halted a police effort to crack down on open-air drug use and drug dealing on crime-ridden Third Avenue in downtown Seattle. The Times reported the decision was made at the “last minute,” as officers were preparing to use a rarely enforced law against disorderly conduct near transit stops.

Harrell, who ran on a campaign to cut rampant crime, had promised to get six officers on dedicated patrol downtown. The promise has yet to be honored and the quashed police effort would have made a dent in the area’s criminal activity.

While Harrell reportedly blamed the SPD communications team for the Times report, the news had actually come from Jamie Housen, the mayor’s spokesperson. Housen had told the Times:

“At the direction of the mayor’s office, any decisions on enforcement have been postponed.”

Before Housen’s statement, an SPD captain offered details on the strategy, apparently unaware that Harrell had canceled the action.

 

Extreme censorship: Seattle mayor takes control of police department messaging; PIO 'involuntarily reassigned'
YouTube video screenshot courtesy Fox 13.

 

Extreme censorship: Seattle mayor takes control of police department messaging; PIO 'involuntarily reassigned'
YouTube video screenshot courtesy Fox 13.

 

The other incident that set off the policy change occurred two weeks later.

An SPD post on Facebook shared that the department had donated some equipment to help Ukrainians defend themselves against Russia. The donations included unused helmets, vests and other personal safety gear.

Only after the post went live did the PIO find out Harrell didn’t want the information to be made public, for unknown reasons, a source told Rantz.

The mayor held another meeting to address the second communication issue and that is when Huserik defended the department’s autonomy when dealing with the media and public. The following day, Huserik found himself reassigned.

In an email statement to Rantz, Housen did not directly answer if Harrell asked for Huserik to be reassigned. Housen said:

“SPD staffing and deployment decisions are made by Chief [Adrian] Diaz and command staff. The mayor’s office seeks to work closely with SPD’s communications team, like all departments, to ensure message coordination and alignment.”

After Rantz’s story ran on the shakeup, interim SPD Chief Adrian Diaz sent a statement to KTTH. In it, Diaz said:

“All SPD personnel decisions are at the sole discretion of the chief. These decisions are made to ensure alignment between personnel, available assignments, and my vision for the department.”

Harrell has publicly supported the police and said he would be tough on crime. But this demand to control SPD communications opens him to criticism that he’s turning the PIO’s office into an arm of his office.

It also opens the SPD to criticism that it might downplay public safety concerns or frame information in ways that would benefit Harrell.

At this time, it is unclear how deep the coordination will go between City Hall and the Seattle Police Department.

https://fundourpolice.com/

Seattle police officers continue to flee the area as the mayor desperately begs for more officers

February 23, 2022

SEATTLE, WA – Newly elected Democrat Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell is asking to add additional police officer positions to the department but is having a hard time maintaining those already on the payroll.

The department reported they lost a total of 20 police officers in January alone.

During Harrell’s first State of the City address, he called for additional police officers to help curb the rising violent crime trends the city has been experiencing since 2020. He said that the additional officers are part of his plan to make the city safer:

“Part of that plan requires more officers. The depleted staffing we see today does not allow us to react to emergencies and crime with the response time our citizens deserve.

“It does not allow us to staff the specialty teams we need for issues like domestic violence or DUI or financial crimes targeting the elderly. It does not allow us to conduct the thorough investigations we expect to make sustainable change.”

To see his plan come to fruition, Harrell has proposed adding 125 police officers during the year, starting with an academy class in June which currently holds 36 recruits.

While Harrell’s plan may work in combating violent crime, he is going to have a hard time recruiting anyone who would want to work at the police department.

According to 770KTTH, the Seattle Police Department had 20 police officers hang it up in January. These 20 officers join the growing list of 375 officers that have left the agency since 2020.

Last year, the city was able to attain 72 new police recruits and nine officers leaving other agencies to work for the Seattle Police Department. In January, when the agency lost twenty officers, they were only able to attract and hire 4 police recruits.

Harrell has yet to announce how he plans on recruiting officers to the agency while there are still many that are leaving because of the work conditions. According to Jason Rantz:

“While police ditch the department over untenable work conditions thanks to a city council that treats officers like the enemy and criminals like victims, Seattle has seen a surge in violent and nonviolent crimes.

Indeed, the city saw a 14-year-high violent crime rate. A chief complaint amongst officers is that they’re not allowed to effectively do their jobs.”

Violent crime rates have made a drastic increase since the agency the defund the police movement has seemingly caused their budget to decrease by almost $46 million since 2020. The city saw increases in aggravated assaults by 24 percent and robberies by 18 percent.

Confirmed reports of shootings have also increased in the city by 40 percent. While that number is alarming by itself, compared to 2019 before the defund the police movement, the increase in confirmed shootings is a staggering 86 percent.

Persons who still believe in defunding and/or abolishing the police will argue that the rise in violent crime has nothing to do with the number of officers in the agency. They will claim that the rise in violent crime has to do with the pandemic.

And while there may be some truth to that, it is awfully coincidental that crime rates in major metropolitan cities like Seattle have climbed as the number of officers has decreased.

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