During the protests a month ago, police from the East Precinct entered a nearby school and stored official police vehicles in its parking garage without permission, according to a statement from the Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Footage posted on social media on June 4 shows a parade of police vehicles entering the parking garage at SAAS. Now, the school has confirmed that the parking lot was occupied by police who did not have permission to use it. Administrators have suspended the school’s relationship with SPD officers, who provided traffic control, and will convene a task force to review future involvement with the police.
Starting in 2010, SAAS contracted with off-duty police to provide traffic management and security services. (In fact, the current Google streetview image of the parking garage shows a person in a Seattle Police Department uniform seated by the door, checking his phone.)
SAAS is surrounded by a mix of high-traffic avenues and some small neighborhood streets (it’s across the street from Pony), and for the last decade, off-duty officers have helped manage cars during pickup and dropoff, as well as at special events.
But on June 8, one of the officers who had worked traffic control in the past reached out to the school with an urgent request. They were preparing to vacate the East Precinct, the officer explained, and they wanted to use the school’s lot to store their personal vehicles. (It’s worth noting that the footage posted to Twitter—which is embedded below—is dated June 4, suggesting the police vehicles were already in the lot at the time the request was made.)
After some discussion, the school says, they granted the request on the condition that no official vehicles would be stored in the lot. But that’s clearly not what wound up happening.
“We were dismayed that these conditions were not met and that multiple uniformed officers entered our building on that night,” the school says in a statement sent to The Stranger. “The Seattle Police Department officers have been informed that they are not authorized to use the garage or our premises. Our goal in agreeing to this temporary request on June 8 was to help expedite the evacuation of the East Precinct. In hindsight, it was a mistake.”
So far, the school hasn’t received an explanation for why official vehicles were stored in the lot.
The school has now suspended its relationship with off-duty SPD officers, and has appointed a Safety & Well-Being Board Task Force to review SAAS policy regarding police. They’ll be engaging with students, families, faculty, staff, and alumni to revise security policies over the next few months.
Right before press time, SPD responded to say that they're looking into what happened and might have more information soon.