Seattle social worker stabbed to death by her client as city pushes to replace police with social workers

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SEATTLE, WA – “Horrifying” and “terrifying” are the words a prosecutor used to describe a deadly attack on a Seattle social worker. 

Just before 11 a.m. on November 23, a public housing resident showed up at an apartment complex in the Belltown neighborhood of the city. 

The Seattle Times reports that security footage shows the man walk into the building carrying grocery bags and then pull out a large knife. Carrying the weapon, he walked into the office of 42-year-old social worker Kristin Benson. 

A co-worker soon heard Benson screaming and she ran to help. 

Court documents say that the woman recognized her co-worker’s attacker. 

She identified the man as 58-year-old Hans Dewey Van-Belkum, and told investigators that he was making “punching/stabbing” motions at the victim as she was face down on the floor. 

The co-worker ran out of the office, later reporting that Van-Belkum chased her toward her office with knife in hand. 

The security footage shows him falling during the chase, getting up and then trying to break down her office door. 

When he could not get in, Van-Belkum reportedly went back to his attack on Benson. 

In the charging documents, a Seattle detective wrote: 

“The defendant then re-entered the victim’s office where he, at a minimum, plunged his knife into the victim’s back.” 

In the same report, King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Dan Raz wrote: 

“The murder of Ms. Benson was horrifying, an unarmed victim, trapped in her own office, unable to escape or fight back against the defendant’s rage and blade. Equally terrifying was the defendant’s willingness to violently attack others who came to Ms. Benson’s assistance.” 

Before fleeing, Van-Belkum also reportedly punched another staff member multiple times and tackled him to the ground before an apartment resident pulled him off. 

The Seattle Times reports by the time police arrived, the accused killer had fled and Benson was dead on her office floor, face down, with a knife sticking out of her back. 

An autopsy showed she’d been stabbed 12 times. The medical examiner later reported that three of the wounds would have been fatal on their own. 

According to the charging documents, police officers spotted the suspect five hours after the crime. He was still wearing the same blood-stained clothes captured on the surveillance video. 

They say Van-Belkum had mental health problems and possibly believed that Benson was involved in a plan to have him evicted from the building where he’d lived for eight years. 

Van-Belhum is now facing charges for murder and second-degree assault. 

The crime has rocked the liberal city, where residents and city leaders adamantly pushed to defund the police just months ago. 

Earlier this month, Law Enforcement Today reported on the fall out of that decision: 

“Nearly 120 officers have left the police force since the end of September.  Most were patrol officers, and either retired or transferred to other agencies.  

Seattle now maintains only 1,200 officers that are deployable for contingencies, the lowest number since 1990, when the city’s population was 516,000. Now the population has grown to 783,000, not to mention the explosion of the surrounding suburban areas increasing the number of citizens routinely inside the city limits.” 

Now, with security footage showing the beginnings of the savage attack on a public servant, people are questioning that decision and their own safety in the Pacific Northwest city. 

A woman who goes by “Laura T” on Twitter, posted: 

“So, there was this social worker in Seattle. She tried to de-escalate a homeless person. He stabbed her and killed her. No police, no guns, trained social worker. Seattle mayor and council are proud of their changes, am sure @AOC is too. Kristin Benson mattered too.” 

Another Twitter user named Rich Rant tweeted: 

“Prayers to the family of Kristin Benson…A horrible tragedy due to Democratic stupidity of #DefundThePolice! This is WHY it’s bad to leave the police out!” 

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Here’s more from Law Enforcement Today on the recent effects of defunding Seattle Police:

Report: Thanks to defunding, Seattle police may not have enough officers to handle anticipated post-election anarchy

November 3, 2020

SEATTLE, WA – The movement to defund the Seattle Police Department, the loss of their remarkable police chief, months and months of occupation and protests in the “CHOP” area, and the recent resurgence of promised protests.

All of this likely has the Seattle Police Department caught short in their ability to handle the upcoming protests scheduled for election day and the days after.

Nearly 120 officers have left the police force since the end of September.  Most were patrol officers, and either retired or transferred to other agencies. 

Seattle now maintains only 1,200 officers that are deployable for contingencies, the lowest number since 1990, when the city’s population was 516,000. Now the population has grown to 783,000, not to mention the explosion of the surrounding suburban areas increasing the number of citizens routinely inside the city limits. 

Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz made a bold statement last week:

“You have to have close to about 1,400 to then have a reasonable number, which puts us to about 1,250 [or] 1,275 that are deployable.  So you really need about 1,400 people to have a much more reasonable staffing when it comes to having enough in patrol investigations and special operations.”

The alternative to having good staffing numbers is to work officers on twelve-hour shifts with no days off as long as is necessary.  It goes without saying that practice will cause stress and exhaustion, all while being critiqued and micro-managed – a formula made for failure and likely the departure of even more officers.

The direct blame for this manning problem sits squarely in the laps of the partisan city council.  The council voted for a 17 percent reduction in the police budget for next fiscal year and leaves officers with the attitude that the department must save money and “hope for the best.”

The King County Sheriff’s Department has been tasked to support the Seattle Police Department during a crisis, but Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht has a similar concern about staffing once their department would be thinned out to support the city:

“We have prepared for and will stand up a command post and support King County Elections if called upon to do so.  My worry is that we do not have enough deputies and officers if protests or rallies get out of hand.”

Other major cities have similar concerns as their city councils have voted to defund police to an extent – cities like Minneapolis, Dallas, Portland, New York City, and others have enacted measures that shadow Seattle’s process.

In fact, New York City has reduced the New York Police Department’s budget by one billion dollars, causing major components and specialty sections of the department to shut down.

As a result, business owners and citizens are boarding up their store fronts and homes – something never before seen in relation to an election.

Many city streets look more like prep for a hurricane or other natural disaster.

Those on the left are readily blaming Trump and his supporters for the fact that so many businesses are spending the money to board up and cover their windows.

However, the vast majority of those arrested for the several months-long rioting in big cities like Portland, New York, Seattle, etc. have been supporters of the far left.

Look familiar?  This is Lake Charles, Louisiana, preparing for Hurricane Delta after receiving Hurricane Laura.

A significant concern that most people would overlook is the direct impact police staffing has on public safety.  With officers spread thin and working long shifts, they’re not available for routine calls. This includes calls that are major like robberies, rapes, assaults, and traffic offenses like DUIs, and those involving drug use.

Just like when CHAZ/CHOP was in play, a normal police call from a citizen was likely to go without response, or at very best, a delayed response.

One would certainly hope that an election wouldn’t cause mass protests, riots, looting, and fires.  Our police are the front line of defense for citizens and businesses, and now they face a threat they’ve likely never seen.

Between losing manning numbers in the hundreds, trying to pick up the slack for the missing officers, the “insta-mobs” phenomenon, and city governments that not only provide little to no support, but are actively working to take even more resources from these departments, the next few months should be interesting.

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