Seattle Police Chief: Officers Responding to ‘Important’ 911 Calls in Autonomous Zone

June 16, 2020 Updated: June 17, 2020

Police officers are responding to some 911 calls coming from the so-called autonomous zone, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said, pushing back on claims that officers in her department have been instructed not to respond to 911 calls in the city’s Capitol Hill area.

A business located near the zone that was broken into late Sunday told The Epoch Times they called the police but officers never showed up.

“There’s not a no Seattle Police Department response zone,” Best said during a Monday night appearance on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time.”

The chief said officials are responding “to every single call in every area of the city” before appearing to make remarks that conflicted with that claim.

“When it comes to that particular area, if we get a call that’s an important emergency 911 call, we’re going in … but we also have to be considerate of the delicate situation that we have there,” she added.

Epoch Times Photo
The boarded-up Seattle Police Department East Precinct inside the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle, Wash. on June 10, 2020. (Ernie Li/NTD Television)

The Seattle Police Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for clarification.

An internal department message circulated several days prior showed a map of the autonomous zone, an area comprising multiple city blocks that activists took over after police officers abandoned the East Precinct. The zone was shown as red in the map.

Officers shouldn’t respond to calls within the red zone “unless the response is to a mass casualty event,” such as an active shooter incident or a structural fire that’s likely to endanger lives, the message stated.

If responding to a mass casualty event, officers “should muster with a supervisor outside that zone” to evaluate whether it’s feasible to respond and develop a plan.

Best wasn’t asked about the message on CNN.

Epoch Times Photo
A banner which reads “abolish the police” hangs from a building in an area being called the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle, Wash. on June 12, 2020. (Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images)

City officials have so far refused to use force to take back the streets.

“The last thing I want to do is have any issue of violence occur in the area, so we’re being very judicial about how we do it, judicious I mean, in how we do it, and how we go in,” Best said in the television appearance.

Officers are attempting to follow up on each report that comes in, she said, and make sure perpetrators are arrested.

Response times to crimes including rape have soared since occupiers took over the zone on June 8.

Barricades placed on streets that lead into the zone are hindering response times, she said, along with officers not being able to respond from the East Precinct directly.

Mayhem unfolded Sunday night as Car Tender, a car repair shop that sits about 100 yards from a border of the zone, was broken into.

The owner and family members rushed over and tried to search the suspect but the man refused. When occupiers heard of what was happening, they rushed over, tore down fencing, and threatened the owner’s life.

After at least two people at the business brandished firearms, the occupiers backed off.

Groups of occupiers wielding guns, including the Antifa-affiliated John Brown Gun Club, are acting as a security force inside the city streets. Some high-level Antifa members, including Luis Marquez, have been spotted inside the zone in recent days.

The Seattle City Council, meanwhile, voted Monday 9-0 to ban police officers from using chokeholds.

Officers also cannot deploy tear gas, pepper spray, and other measures typically used to control crowds.

“Our movement against racism and police violence made history today with the City Council’s passage of the permanent bans on the police use of chemical weapons and other so-called ‘crowd control’ weapons, and on police chokeholds,” Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, a Democrat, said in a statement.

She called for defunding the police department by at least 50 percent.

Councilmembers also approved legislation that requires officers to display badge numbers, after some protesters complained that numbers weren’t visible during recent demonstrations.

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