A half-dozen Seattle police officers who attended the Jan. 6 rally where then-President Donald Trump spoke are being forced to provide city officials with personal and financial data or face termination.
According to an online post by Seattle talk radio host Jason Rantz, the controversial demand for information comes after the department began an investigation into the officers in January after two of them posted photos to social media showing they attended the rally. Afterward, four additional officers self-reported that they had attended the rally as well.
“Though there was no evidence that any of the officers participated in the riot, the civilian-led Office of Police Accountability (OPA) began a proactive investigation to see if any of the officers broke any laws,” Rantz wrote.
“Months into the investigation, sources say no evidence has emerged of any wrongdoing. And none of the officers have been federally charged for any illegal behavior,” he added. “That doesn’t mean OPA won’t offer findings of guilt against an officer for witnessing an illegal act at the Capitol without reporting it.”
Rantz went on to note that his show has confirmed the OPA has instructed the officers to turn over personal data and information regarding their trip, essentially forcing them to prove their innocence, he added.
The OPA is demanding the officers turn over all text messages to friends and family, pictures of them while in D.C., hotel and restaurant receipts, “and even personal bank records during the time they were” in the nation’s capital for the rally, Rantz noted.
An internal email obtained by his radio program from the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) to its members says that “the city told us that Director Myerberg’s order was supported with the threat of termination.”
“I can confirm that OPA has ordered the officers to provide evidence of their whereabouts and activities on January 6 and, specifically, during the time that the insurrection was ongoing within and around the U.S. Capitol. This includes receipts, texts, photographs, and records of financial transactions,” OPA director Andrew Myerberg told Rantz’s radio show.
But the “prying” extended beyond financial and electronic records, Rantz reported.
He noted that “at least some” of the Seattle officers were queried about their personal “political beliefs” by OPA officials, though Rantz said it is not clear “what specific questions” were asked of the officers.
“Given the investigation, the officers were likely asked if they thought the election was stolen or if they attended the rally because they believed claims made by then-President Trump over election integrity,” Rantz wrote, adding that SPOG leaders “objected” to the line of questioning.
“In several of the interviews, the named employees were ordered to answer personal protected political questions that in SPOG’s view had absolutely no bearing on this investigation,” SPOG president Mike Solan noted in an email to members. “Our board of director representatives vehemently objected to these questions for the record as they were improper and exemplified a violation of civil rights.”
Rantz further noted that in the city of Seattle, discriminating against someone based on their political beliefs is illegal because “political ideology is a protected class under its discrimination law.”
Myerberg told Rantz that the officers were being treated fairly.
“Officers are entitled to all of the rights and privileges set forth in the contract, including the officer bill of rights, as well as protections under city, state, and federal law,” the director said.
Rantz disagreed, however, writing that the officers have not been “afforded legal protections” and adding that thus far, they haven’t been “presented” with evidence they committed any criminal acts.
Nevertheless, “they still face an investigation for engaging in undisputably protected political speech,” he wrote. “City employees are legally allowed to attend a speech by the president, even if it’s Trump.”
“These officers aren’t afforded due process. And it comes off as less of an investigation and more of a politically-driven witch hunt,” he added.
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