Officer Greg Anderson has served the Port of Seattle for several years, but he’s off the job for now after posting a video encouraging his fellow officers to use their discretion and not enforce “tyrannical” social distancing or stay-at-home orders. The video, posted on May 7th, quickly gained attention on social media, drawing both praise and criticism for his blunt talk about Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home orders.
“I want to remind you that regardless of where you stand on the coronavirus, we don’t have the authority to do those things to people just because a mayor or a governor tells you otherwise,” he says. “We don’t get to violate people’s Constitutional rights because somebody in our chain of command tells us otherwise.”
Anderson said he was disturbed at the implication people would be violating the law by “going to church, for traveling on the roadways, for going surfing, opening their businesses, going to the park with their families or doing nails out of their own house using their own house as a place of business.”
Since the release of the video, Anderson has been placed on leave pending an investigation, and on Tuesday the chief of the Port of Seattle Police Department attempted to explain why.
“Greg has always had the ability to express his opinions on what is going on in the country like all other Americans,” Covey wrote. “However, he is not allowed to do so while on duty, wearing our uniform, wearing our badge and while driving our patrol car. Every police officer in the country understands that. I personally told this to Greg and told him that I would support his right to talk about these issues as long as he did so while not claiming any affiliation to our police department. Greg has chosen this course of action even after he and I spoke and while also knowing that his actions were outside of well-established policy.”
While it’s true that most law enforcement agencies have policies prohibiting officers from sounding off on current events while in uniform, there’s actually nothing in Anderson’s video that readily identifies him as a Port of Seattle officer. I actually ran across his video over the weekend and tried to track him down, but the video itself didn’t provide a lot to go on. The video likely would have quickly faded from the public consciousness if not for the fact that Anderson was placed on suspension as a result.
Now, interest has exploded, and not just in the Seattle area. A GoFundMe account set up to help Anderson with legal bills and living expenses has raised close to $350,000 in just the past couple of days, with more than 10,000 individuals donating to the fund, and I suspect that Anderson’s story will soon be shared on news outlets like Fox News in the days ahead.
By the way, if Anderson was disturbed back on May 7th, he’s likely apoplectic after Inslee recently announced new orders for a contact tracing scheme that one Washington paper says will keep some residents unable to leave their home, even for necessities.
For those businesses/individuals that don’t comply, the governor stated that he confirmed with Attorney General Bob Ferguson, there will be sanctions in civil or criminal court.
Therefore those individuals that refuse to cooperate with contact tracers and/or refuse testing, those individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes to purchase basic necessities such as groceries and/or prescriptions. Those persons will need to make arrangements through friends, family, or a state provided “family support personnel.”
Inslee himself avoided answering a question from a reporter at Tuesday’s press conference about how the state would enforce a quarantine order for individuals that have tested positive for COVID-19, saying in response that “it just shouldn’t come to that, and it really hasn’t.”
The governor went on to say that the state has “had really good success when we ask people to isolate, and they’ve done so in really high percentages, so we’re happy about that, and we believe that will continue.”
That’s ducking the question, not answering it, and it still remains to be seen just how a 14-day quarantine for positive coronavirus patients could be enforced across the state. With officers like Greg Anderson now speaking out and Republican lawmakers ready to challenge the governor for his unilateral action, I’m guessing the reason Inslee didn’t actually explain how his contact tracing order would be enforced is that he simply has no idea. Like his support for unenforceable gun control laws like universal background checks, it appears that making the law is far more important to Inslee than actually enforcing it.