SPD officers will ride in pairs following Dallas police shootings


SEATTLE -- Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole tells KOMO News that she will grant the police union's request to have patrol officers ride in pairs as a safety measure in response to the officer-involved shootings in Dallas Thursday night.

O'Toole said the department will have patrol officers ride in doubles "to the best extent possible." O'Toole is currently in Washington D.C. for a work conference.

Assistant Chief Robert Merner said the plan is to have patrol officers only handle priority 911 calls -- meaning calls regarding major crimes.

When asked how threatened officers feel, Merner said, "obviously cops are concerned."

Seattle Police Officers' Guild President Ron Smith made the request Thursday evening following the shooting at a Dallas protest, which left 4 officers dead and 7 wounded

The police union made a similar request for officers to ride in pairs after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. Smith said the department had some squad cars ride in doubles after that incident as well.

Hundreds of people marched through downtown Seattle Thursday night to protest the police-related shootings of two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.

The rally was led by the family of Che Taylor, who was fatally shot by Seattle police in February. People gathered at a park and then marched through nearby streets, stopping for a time at the federal courthouse and chanting "black lives matter." Police were able to stop the crowd from marching onto Interstate 5.

Many in the crowd held pieces of paper with the names of the men killed.

A smaller protest took place in Olympia which resulted in minor damage to vehicles and officers firing pellets at people who were resisting them, The Olympian reported.

On Wednesday, a Minnesota officer fatally shot Philando Castile while he was in a car with a woman and a child. A day earlier, Alton Sterling was shot in Louisiana after being pinned to the pavement by two white officers. Both were captured on cellphone video and shared widely online.

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