Chief says ‘no cop-free zone’ in Seattle during protests

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Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best says officers will go into the several-block area being occupied by protesters if there are threats to public safety …

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Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best says officers will go into the several-block area being occupied by protesters if there are threats to public safety

SEATTLE — Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best says officers will go into the several-block area being occupied by protesters if there are threats to public safety.

Police pulled back from a part of the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood after recent clashes with people protesting the Minneapolis death of George Floyd near the department’s East Precinct. A festival-like atmosphere has emerged in the area, now called the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest,” with participants painting a Black Lives Matter mural on the street and planting a community garden.

Best spoke after a business owner near the protest area complained that police didn’t respond when he called 911 to report a break-in and vandalism.

“There is no cop-free zone in the city of Seattle,” Best said told reporters Monday afternoon. “I think that the picture has been painted in many areas that shows the city is under siege. That is not the case.”

John McDermott, the owner of an auto shop, told KIRO-TV he phoned authorities multiple times about the incident Sunday night.

Best said officers have written multiple police reports for crimes reported in that area in the past 48 hours. Dispatchers and officers are coordinating with crime victims or callers to meet police on the edges of the CHOP boundaries, she said, adding officers will go in if there’s an urgent situation.

As for the situation with the auto shop, Best said police had received a 911 of someone breaking windows with a hammer and the caller reported that his business was on fire.

“The officers responded to the call and they observed the location from a distance. They did not see any signs of smoke or fire or anything else and they did not see a disturbance,” Best said.

The Seattle Times reports the Police Department is looking to city officials to negotiate with protest leaders about returning the precinct station.

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