An internal email to East Precinct cops from a watch commander obtained by KUOW encourages the officers who work on the streets of Capitol Hill, First Hill and the Central District to use more force as they patrol the neighborhoods.
“Some officers are very hesitant to use force in situations where force is clearly needed,” writes Lt. Bryon Grenon in an email dated September 18th. The email also indicates Grenon’s displeasure with officers who have said they are hesitant to use “appropriate force” because of concerns over paperwork:
The memo was sent before Thursday morning’s burst of armed robberies around Capitol Hill. One day after the email was sent, a suspect believed to have stolen beer from the Broadway/Pine Walgreens suffered a fracture jaw as police say he attempted to run from officers after he was handcuffed. A SPD representative told CHS that incident was not considered a use of force because the officer said the suspect’s injuries were caused by his own actions. Two days after the email was sent, an officer suffered facial injuries during an attempt to arrest two suspects near the Cal Anderson basketball court.
In addition to sometimes onerous levels of paperwork, East Precinct officers are also facing increasing pressures as the area’s population grows and recent years have brought slowdowns and freezes in police hiring. Mayor Ed Murray has pledged to boost SPD hiring in 2015 with budget to bring on 50 more officers. More than 1,300 officers already serve the city. Meanwhile, a leaked memo reveals that “most” burglaries in the North Precinct are not being investigated because of a lack of detectives to work the cases.
UPDATE: Following the spree of armed robberies around Capitol Hill early Thursday, there were no hold-ups in East Precinct reported overnight.