Use of tear gas goes against public health, furthers spread of COVID-19
Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle and South Park), and Chair of the Council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee, released the following statement after the Community Police Commission, Office of Police Accountability, and Office of Inspector General jointly recommended the Seattle Police Department stop using tear gas due to its adverse health effects:
“I support the CPC, OPA and OIG call to cease the use of tear gas ‘until such time as any appropriate use can be vetted by oversight entities and incorporated into a written SPD policy’ with sufficient training.
“My Council colleagues and I were alarmed to hear story after story of protestors, bystanders and residents affected by the police department’s use of tear gas during Wednesday’s public safety committee meeting. We heard from constituents who had tear gas projectiles thrown directly at them, and others who were not in the protests, but because they live Downtown or in Capitol Hill, had tear gas seep into their homes.
“I am concerned about the use of tear gas from a public health perspective, especially during the time of COVID-19. Infectious disease experts, and our own Dr. Jeffery Duchin of Public Health of Seattle and King County, have warned police departments around the country against tear gas, because it causes people to cough and can make the body more susceptible to infection. Coughing because of tear gas could further cause the spread of coronavirus during this pandemic, which is disproportionately affecting people of color.
“While I’m confident that Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best and Mayor Durkan will seriously consider these recommendations, legislation to support the CPC, OPA and OIG’s recommendations may be forthcoming.
“We can and we must do better.”