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On Monday, I joined the Martin Luther King Jr. Day march from Garfield High School to downtown Seattle.

Along the route, many police officers were directing traffic and assuring the safety of the marchers and the orderliness of the march.

Most of the officers were either motorcycle or bicycle officers. All of them had their helmets on. The motorcycle officers looked, I am sorry to say, like storm troopers in their black long-sleeve uniforms and boots, with those massive helmets on their heads. The bicycle officers hardly looked more friendly.

I was surprised at the tone deafness of the Seattle Police Department. By removing their helmets as they stood watching us go by, the officers could have sent a message that they were a benign, helpful force that is of us, not apart from us. As it was, I felt as though we were being observed by troops, dispatched from some faraway barracks.

Jeffrey R. Bernstein, Seattle