After the second major shooting of police officers in as many weeks — first Dallas, now Baton Rouge — Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said her department will continue to ask officers to work in pairs when possible.
After three law-enforcement officers were fatally shot and three others wounded Sunday morning in Baton Rouge, La., the Seattle Police Department will extend certain safety measures it put in place when five Dallas police officers were killed earlier this month.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the officers in Baton Rouge and the loved ones and the community they serve,” Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said. “In Seattle, we’re taking additional safety precautions both in our office of deployment and security at our SPD facilities. We’re in close contact with our federal partners and will continue to monitor risk and mitigate risk, but we have no reason to believe there’s any threat in Seattle.”
After five officers were killed in Dallas on July 7, O’Toole directed Seattle cops to work in pairs as often as possible. Before the incident in Baton Rouge, the department was monitoring results to see if that order could be scaled back, but O’Toole said Sunday morning they will now continue to enforce the pairing system for “the foreseeable future.”
O’Toole held administrative positions in the Boston state police force and spent six years as Chief Inspector for the Irish National Police Service before assuming her role as Seattle’s police chief two years ago.
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Through a career of more than three decades, she said this has been the toughest time for her profession.
“This is the most difficult time in policing since I’ve been in the business,” she said. “Sadly, I did witness significant threats to police when I was working in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, police there had to work in highly secure facilities that looked more like fortresses than police stations. My hope is to never have that situation here. We want our facilities to be welcoming to the community.
“We’re going through a very difficult period nationally, but my hope is that it gives us an opportunity to work harder and build bridges to our community so we don’t have to resort to more security measures,” she added.
Shortly after speaking with The Seattle Times, the chief posted a statement on the Seattle Police Department’s online blotter expressing empathy for “our brother and sister officers in Baton Rouge” and noting the safety measures.
“Sincere thanks to the dedicated, hardworking men and women of the SPD who put their own safety at risk each day to make our community safer,” the statement concludes. “Also, thanks to our Seattle community for the overwhelming support you have demonstrated during these very challenging times.”