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A Breath of Fresh Air for Seattle


March 12, 2001
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A Breath of Fresh Air for Seattle

We are posting a letter from one of our users, a Seattle officer, to a California radio station, which solicited donations after the murder of Officer Steven Underwood. The actions of the radio station and its listeners were a breath of fresh air, especially for our members in Seattle and we wanted to share it with other PoliceOne.com users. The death of this officer has hit the Seattle Law Enforcement community hard due to the circumstances surrounding his death. Seattle has been under fire lately for the handling of the Mardi Gra's Riots, the deaths during those riots, the EarthQuake, and more...

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Dear Editor,

I am quite sure I speak for all in blue when I say that we as a family have taken quite a hit these last few weeks. Whether it was mardi Gras at its worst, an earthquake or the senseless loss of a caring, devoted father and fellow officer in the case of Steven Underwood. I have never felt the need to voice my thoughts in a forum such as this until now. As I stood on top of the sunken ship parking garage with the rest of my squad that violent Tuesday night, I reconfirmed my belief that we must watch each others back with ever increasing vigilance. I didn't agree with how things were handled that night like alot of you but was powerless to do anything about it. I was both embarrassed and proud to be a Seattle Police Officer that night. That I felt physically ill as I observed the beatings from a vantage point above the crowd is no consolation to the Kime family as they have to adjust and grieve the loss of a son and brother. My thoughts and prayers go out to them in their time of need. That said, the embarrassed point speaks for itself.

But I was proud of my unit as a whole, proud of the leadership shown by Sgt. Dyment and Sgt. Hooper, proud of the actions taken by my squad and the professionalism that we displayed in the face of ineptness and controversy. Like the old saying goes, "Damned if we do, damned if we don't", I'd much rather live with the ramifications of "Do" then spend time second guessing myself for what happened as a result of "Don't". The city is and will continue to take a lot of heat for that night and many like that in the past. And we will keep doing the job, day in and day out. Do it professionally, honorably and be proud of who you are and what you do. No one can take that away.

This morning, I was listening to a syndicated morning show out of southern California. Out of the blue, they told the tragic story of Officer Underwood's murder. These voices on the radio were so upset that they began to solicit donations for the grieving wife and son he left behind. As I listened to caller after caller donating what little they could, I understood why I do this job. I along with many of you have a desire and determination to protect and serve these people. I heard high school students calling and donating up to $200.00. A busboy at Denny's donated $400.00. A caller wishing to remain anonymous stated he would match whatever the show generated up to $25,000.00. Going into my 11th year here in Seattle, spending a majority of my time in pro-active bicycle squads dealing with mostly thugs and the like, I sometimes lost sight that people like this existed. They are out there. They do care about us and they damn sure outnumber our critics. Remember that as you go to work today. These are the people we took the oath for. They are not the most vocal and they definitely don't get the press coverage but they are our bread and butter. Hearing this on the "Rob, Arnie & Dawn Show" (99.9 FM) this morning gave me a renewed sense of self worth and I refuse to let the problems of this city and it's leadership keep me from serving it's citizens in the professional way they deserve.

On a final note, "routine" doesn't exist on this job. Each stop we make, each alarm or disturbance might be the one where we are faced with insurmountable odds. Watch each other’s back. Put the coffee on hold. Put the report down. Drive by that traffic stop a few blocks away. Check on each other, keep each other safe and remember, we are all in this thing together.

Sincerely,
Chris Garrett #5639, West Pct, Seattle




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