Seattle, WA – The Seattle Police Department (SPD) has launched an investigation into at least six officers who were allegedly in Washington, DC on the day of the U.S. Capitol riot.
The probe involves the largest number of identified officers from any law enforcement agency in the U.S. to have been present in the nation’s capital on Jan. 6, Business Insider reported.
“We’re not keeping it a secret,” Seattle Office of Police Accountability (OPA) spokesperson Anne Bettesworth told the news outlet.
SPD Chief Adrian Diaz issued a statement two days after the U.S. Capitol Building riot announcing the agency had been made aware that at least two Seattle officers had allegedly been in Washington, DC on the day of the riot.
“The incident has been forwarded to the Office of Police Accountability for full review of any SPD employee activities at the U.S. Capitol,” Chief Diaz said in the Jan. 8 statement.
“The OPA will investigate whether any SPD policies were violated and if any potential illegal activities need to be referred for criminal investigation,” he added. “If any SPD officers were directly involved in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, I will immediately terminate them.”
Chief Diaz further noted that any officer under investigation would be placed on administrative leave.
The OPA has six months to wrap up its investigation and to present those findings to the SPD, Business Insider reported.
The SPD will then determine whether or not the officers violated any department policies and if criminal investigations should be launched, according to the news outlet.
Seattle City Council President Lorena Gonzalez, who is running for mayor, said that the six SPD officers being present in the nation’s capital on the day of the riot “sets us back,” Business Insider reported.
Gonzalez has also blasted Seattle Police Officer’s Guild president and current SPD Officer Mike Solan for issuing a tweet on Jan. 7 suggesting that antifa and Black Lives Matter had participated in the U.S. Capitol riot.
Gonzalez, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, former SPD Chief Carmen Best, and the entirety of the Seattle City Council called for Officer Sloan to resign.
Gonzalez said Officer Sloan’s comment was “fearmongering at its core, and not a representation of who we are as a city,” and that he had done “a disservice to the work that we’ve been doing here for decades to reform this police department,” Business Insider reported.
The mayoral hopeful has described the SPD as a paramilitary organization.
“Cultural reform is really difficult in an institution that is a paramilitary organization,” she lamented during an interview with Business Insider.
“Officers need to understand that they are public servants and that means shifting from a warrior mind to a guardian mentality that is designed fundamentally on understanding who we are as a community and that you are here not to supervise us or to occupy our space in a military sense, but to be here as a protector,” Gonzalez added.
The six officers under OPA investigation filed a lawsuit against the city in late February after they were notified the city planned to release their personnel records to a local reporter and three other individuals who had requested them under the state’s Public Records Act, Business Insider reported.
King County Superior Court Judge Sandra Widlan temporarily blocked the release of information, but refused to issue a permanent injunction.
The Washington Court of Appeals extended the restraining order temporarily on March 17, Business Insider reported.
The next court hearing for the matter has not been set.