Catching up: Being a Seattle police officer is an increasingly tough job for Melisande Manning.

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Original magazine story: Aug. 7, 2016

Pacific Northwest Magazine: 2016 Pictures of the Year & story follow-ups

President Obama shakes hands with a small child after arriving at SeaTac on Friday afternoon on Air Force One. June 24th, 2016. (Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)
President Obama shakes hands with a small child after arriving at SeaTac on Friday afternoon on Air Force One. June 24th, 2016. (Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

Seattle Police officer Melisande Manning is having a tough morning.

Five days ago, a woman struck her in the head with an aluminum mug containing hot coffee. Then came election protests, requiring police overtime, and the usual encounters with a hostile public she says has grown more bold.

“It’s always been dangerous, but the opportunities for danger present themselves more often than before,’’ says Manning, who joined the department three and a half years ago. “People challenge, and they don’t just challenge verbally. They challenge physically.”

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Manning, who spoke about what it’s like to be a cop in Seattle in 2016 for a story last summer, says her future as a police officer is uncertain.

“I’m tired of this,’’ she says during a brief morning “lunch” of cantaloupe and a Monster energy drink at the East Precinct on Capitol Hill. “That is not in my job description for responsibilities and duties. There is no section that says, ‘You will deal with physical abuse, and you will accept it, and you will be OK with it.’ It’s just to the point where I’m like, ‘Eh; it’s not worth it.’ ”

Manning says she was heartened by supportive emails and letters after the article ran. One person typed an eight-page letter that reminded Manning of how important her job is, and how much she is needed. Still, it’s a long career, 25 or 30 years, and she says, “That’s a long time to be dealing with this stuff.”

“Sometimes you just have to move along,’’ she says. “There’s a lot of good people here who are going to stick it out. I just happened to be one of those, if I have options, I’m not afraid to exercise those options. They chose to stay. Maybe they can put up with more than I’m choosing to. Life is too short, and I see that daily.”