The Mayor of Seattle and the chief of police announced they’ve agreed to ban the use of tear gas to disperse protesters amid ongoing demonstrations after the death of George Floyd.
The leaders suspended the gas until watchdog groups and oversight officials can fully review and recommend changes to policies and training for use of the chemical agent, The Seatle Times reported Saturday. Local health officials expressed concerns over use of tear gas and other respiratory irritants in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
“After hearing concerns about the use of CS gas for crowd control purposes earlier this week … we decided we were going to suspend its use for 30 days,” Police Chief Carmen Best said, according to the news outlet.
The ban only applies to tear gas– not flash-bang grenades, pepper spray and other crowd-control techniques– but Seattle’s female African American police chief said that “everything will be reviewed.”
“It’s really important we’re looking at every aspect of force and how we’re utilizing it. We’ll review everything we’re utilizing,” the chief said, according to The Seattle Times.
The review is to be conducted by the city’s civilian-led police accountability groups and federal oversight officials, along with input from public health officials and outside experts, Best and Mayor Jenny Durkan said.
“This review should better emphasize de-escalation tactics and incorporate recommendations from our accountability partners on the use of any crowd control techniques, including the use of tear gas and flash-bangs,” Durkan said.
Earlier this week, the police chief ordered officers to make their badge numbers visible after criticism of officers reportedly covering their badge numbers.