Last November the Bellevue Police Department hung a banner over a door in the patrol garage that read, "Welcome Seattle laterals."
At the risk of ruining a joke, the banner served two purposes. One was simply to welcome newly hired police officers from the Seattle Police Department to the BPD. But because the BPD does not plan only to hire laterals from the SPD, and because the department also welcomed a lateral who wasn't from Seattle the day they hung the banner, the message also served to troll the city of Seattle.
It's a little inside joke between the BPD and the SPD laterals. "Don't worry," the banner implies, "The residents of this mall won't threaten to take away your chemical weapons. We love the work you do."
The gesture at least appeared to break the heart of Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan, a variously great and fantastic human being on a mission to
scare the living shit out of everyone he meets with the power of his violent-looking haircut reclaim "the activist narrative:"
What does this tell us? So sad watching unreasonable activism decimate #Seattle. @BvuePD, you’re getting great @SeattlePD #cops. This will take years to recover from @SeattleCouncil. What’s the solution? https://t.co/XCZY9Uktm5 #PublicSafety #HOLDTHELINE!🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/wjsqe3SBIs
— Mike Solan (@realmikesolan) December 1, 2020
@BvuePD @EverettPolice @PuyallupPD @KennewickPolice ... area departments benefit from the exodus, as the hypocritical @SeattleCouncil continues to be protected by officers from the department they seek to defund. https://t.co/9Pg11UqtGK
— WAStateC.O.P.S. (@WAStateCOPS) December 1, 2020
Over the phone, BPD's public information officer, Meeghan Black, said a rank-and-file officer suggested she create the banner and hang it up because "it's been a tough time" for the SPD. She then ran the idea by BPD police Chief Steve Mylett and Major of Patrol Operations Andrew Popochock, and they both approved.
According to emails, at the time Black anticipated six officers from the SPD starting work at the BDP at the end of November "and more in December," plus "a few other agency laterals joining in between." However, some Seattle laterals didn't survive the hiring process, and BPD ended up welcoming only four cops from Seattle and one from Honolulu. The department plans to fill "several more" openings soon, Black said.
Not everyone in the department expressed approval of the idea for the Seattle lateral banner, though. "For what it is worth.....I’ve had a couple people say something to me about the 'Welcome Seattle Laterals' banner," Major Mark Tarantino wrote in an email to Black. "Their basic thought is that we should not be singling them out from other laterals and also why would we want to add pressure to those laterals by highlighting them. Just thought I would pass it along. I don’t think it is a big deal.....but I guess I would agree with the sentiment."
Black admitted similar feelings in her reply. "I don’t entirely disagree," she wrote. "The banner was suggested to me and supported by the Chief and Popochock... so... there it is."
Just following orders.
To include everybody, Black ended up creating a more generic banner that simply read, "Welcome laterals," which a member of Bellevue facilities services hung inside the patrol briefing room.
Despite the mild trepidation, Black nevertheless endeavored on a noble effort to get the guy in the City of Bellevue's graphics department to draw up a rendering of the jokey banner. While I don't feel much sympathy for any effort put into a publicly funded troll, the struggle to get the graphics department to create something that aligns with a writer's vision is real, and my heart goes out to Black. (I mean no shade on the brilliant people who work in arts departments. It's just difficult to communicate visual concepts.)
First, Black filled out a form detailing the banner's specifications. The guy at the graphics department then hit her back with this:
After a request to drop the words "Bellevue PD," he sent her a condensed version that combines the message:
After a request to drop the word "new," the graphics guy hit her back with a combo banner and two separate banners:
Black ultimately filed her request with the city's Copy Center, and then later contacted the facility services people to discuss her concerns about the sign's length relative to the doorway.
No matter how you feel about losing a few cops to the city across the lake, hopefully we can all agree that this troll was an excellent use of public time and resources.