A Seattle cop who has been guarding Mayor Jenny Durkan's $7.5 million mansion said the post sometimes leaves shifts at the North Precinct understaffed and subjects officers to hours of boredom without relief.
"We don’t even have a bathroom out there. There's no bathroom. And [her street] has the worst fucking cell phone service. You just sit there and stare and think about how shitty your life is for four or five hours," said one officer who requested anonymity.
Cops who need to use the restroom while working "the Windermere detail," as the 24/7 assignment is known, end up using the facilities at a nearby 76 gas station.
Last week I observed two officers sitting in separate, idling police SUVs parked on either side of the road outside Durkan's house. One cop appeared to be staring down at a cell phone, while the other simply looked around.
The Seattle Municipal Code authorizes the police chief to assign a regular security detail to protect the Mayor's person and property, but the cop said that the uniformed officers parked outside her Windermere mansion at all times work in addition to the Mayor’s Executive Protection Unit, which "is not 24/7 like many departments across the country," according to a spokesperson for Durkan.
Since Durkan lives north of the ship canal, the North Precinct is tasked to staff each of the day's three shifts with two of its patrol officers. When cops call in sick or when commanders tap patrol officers to handle protests in other parts of the city, the need to guard the Mayor's mansion sometimes leaves the precinct below minimum staffing, according to this officer.
The police officer said the Windermere detail began in late November, after summer protests that sometimes occurred in front of Durkan's mansion and at the homes of other local politicians continued into the fall.
Due to death threats stemming from her time as a U.S. Attorney, Durkan is enrolled in the state's Address Confidentiality Program to keep her address under wraps. Nevertheless, the place isn't hard to find.
Anthony Derrick, a representative from Durkan's office, said the Mayor's address became public over the summer, and since then she's "seen a significant increase in death threats, multiple swatting attempts, and violent, homophobic, and misogynistic threats."
At the end of last June, Every Day Marchers, Seattle Democratic Socialists of America members, and others demonstrated outside Durkan's mansion as part of a protest campaign to pressure her and other city leaders into divesting from the Seattle Police Department by at least 50% and then investing that money in Black communities. Some people who marched with the group spray-painted misogynist and threatening phrases on the street.
After protesters made more rounds at the end of July, City Council President Lorena González issued a statement about “targeted protests at the homes of council members" that urged people to refrain from engaging in "personal attacks, intimidation or potential violence."
Derrick said the Mayor's Office retooled its threat-reporting protocol after Trump tweets led to an "increase of calls, handwritten letters, and emails," some of which included "specific threats to rape and kill Mayor Durkan's children."
In mid-October, some protesters again spray-painted "uncivilized, and frankly seventh-grade stuff" on the public road outside her house, to use the words of former Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw.
This is what our Mayor found at her house this morning. Uncivilized, and frankly seventh-grade stuff. Come on people. We need to build some bridges to solve our social problems. Name calling and spray paint don't hack it. pic.twitter.com/5ZIiSmC0lA
— Sally Bagshaw (@sallybagshaw) October 16, 2020
Derrick said people have gathered and "vandalized the Mayor’s home" "a dozen times—including on Christmas Eve," and that "there’ve been individuals with weapons and others who have thrown objects into her yard like fireworks."
Her office also claimed that the graffiti on the street "caused tens of thousands of dollars of damage to her home, which she personally paid to address."
In October, after the FBI discovered a plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the Seattle Times reported on the Mayor's security measures and noted that only one threat to Durkan had resulted in criminal charges. That situation "involved a series of phone and email messages left in 2017 and 2018 by a man who was indicted on a charge of making numerous death threats against Durkan and another individual," though a judged dismissed the charges after determining "the man was incompetent to stand trial," according to the Times.
Derrick said that harassment and threats continued into the fall, including some from sovereign citizens, who believe that the Sheriff is the only true enforcer of the law. Durkan has also received "dozens of death threats from individuals," Derrick added.
Though the practice of protesting outside politicians' homes has slowed if not completely stopped in recent months, a cop said one woman has been showing up to Durkan's mansion "pretty often" but "sporadically" and stands on the street holding signs. The woman yells, "Jenny resign," and flips the police cars off, but "she stays on the public roadway and she's no threat," the cop added.
This cop said the last time this woman showed up at Durkan's house was last week.
According to Derrick, the person who shows up to her house with the signs has a "recent history of arrests for other crimes coupled with mental health issues," which have "caused considerable concern for the safety of the Mayor and her family as this individual has visited the Mayor’s home repeatedly since October."
In a direct message, Kristin Mowery said she had gone to the Mayor's mansion "a few times" before December but has shown up "about half a dozen times" from then until now. "I put up signs, stickers and I have yelled at her and thrown signs over her gate. I have assured the cops I mean no harm. If I felt I had a voice in our community, I wouldn't do this prank-level shit," she said.
Court records show cops arrested Mowery six times since September of last year on suspicion of various crimes Mowery said were protest-related; a couple arrests for pedestrian interference, obstructing an officer, property destruction, and dumping trash.
Mowery said she has a Class A felony "because of something I did in the midst of a mental health crisis," but said she's been stable on medication for bipolar disorder since then. Records show that felony case was from 2018.
According to one officer, the department pays cops overtime for the work, but cops routinely complain about the need for the detail given their purported staff shortages. "She’s got a ton of money. She could pay private security or hire us off duty," the officer said.
On top of that, the requirement of having at least one officer parked directly outside Durkan's house leaves cops in a "bad position" strategically, with no easy exit if protesters start marching down the street again, the officer said.
As far as this officer understands, the detail may continue “until her term is over."
Ultimately, the Mayor's Executive Protection Unit and SPD will determine how long the Windermere detail will remain active.
I've asked SPD for comment and will update this post if I hear back.
Derrick said, "The Mayor is grateful for the work of police officers to keep residents of our city safe including those providing safety to the Mayor and her family in a year where the Mayor has faced an unprecedented level of threats."
As for the wifi and bathroom issues, Derrick said "the Mayor has often reported having terrible cell phone reception at her home," and the cop's complaint "appears to corroborate that."
"We are happy to follow-up on these issues with SPD," Derrick added.
This post has been updated to correct some protest dates and council-response dates.