Is the city responding to 911 calls in the CHOP?

Last night and this morning, there were various (often conflicting) reports on social media about a possible burglary in the CHOP (formerly known as the CHAZ) area on Capitol Hill that is the site of an ongoing occupation and protest. There has also been conflicting information about whether first-responders have been told not to enter the CHOP if the city receives a 911 call from there.

I asked the Mayor’s Office what SPD and SFD have been instructed to do if the city receives a 911 call from the CHOP. Below is their full response.

The City of Seattle has been on site working with many of the organizers every day – this includes Fire Chief Harold Scoggins – to help ensure the safety of individuals, residents, and businesses. Chief Best and SPD have been on site multiple times, and there is no “police free” zone in the City. City staff, including representatives from the Mayor’s Office, Fire Chief Scoggins, and department directors from Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), and the Office of Economic Development have been meeting daily with CHAZ/CHOP leaders to work with the organizers on sanitation, hygiene, and any other needs since June 9. Utilities including Puget Sound Energy and SPU have been able to respond to the area for service.

The Seattle Police Department will respond to significant life-safety issues within the CHAZ/CHOP (defined as the shaded area in the below map). The Seattle Police Department’s definition of life-safety issues may include an active shooter incident, an assault, a structure fire, significant medical emergency (i.e. heart attack, stroke, trauma) and other incidents that threaten a person’s life safety. The Seattle Fire Department will respond to fire and medical emergencies within the CHAZ once SPD officers secure the scene and say it is safe for fire crews to enter. For all other calls originating from this area, SPD dispatchers and officers will attempt to coordinate officer contact outside of these boundaries when safe and feasible.

The Seattle Police Department’s decision regarding service calls within the CHAZ/CHOP is part of the City’s effort to proactively de-escalate any situations that have the potential to jeopardize officer or community safety. The Seattle Police Department will continue to respond to life-safety situations and facilitate the Seattle Fire Department’s safe response to significant medical incidents.

As part of this effort, SFD has worked with the volunteer medical staff at the site to ask that if a person becomes injured in this area, residents walk them to the perimeter of the crowd and call 9-1-1 to report their location. SFD fire extinguishers and Mega Movers (portable stretchers), have been provided by the fire department to the volunteer medical staff (unaffiliated with the City) to assist with this effort. Additionally, SFD has advised businesses in the area on how to proactively remove combustibles, such as removing garbage and recycling on a daily basis to minimize the risk of intentionally set fires spreading. It is incredibly important to clear a pathway for emergency vehicles as the respond into the area, so medical and fire responses are not further delayed.

Chief Scoggins and SDOT have also been meeting with the organizers to discuss how the City can appropriately allow additional traffic access to the area. This could include an updated footprint to facilitate more access and ensure CHAZ/CHOP residents can continue to protest peacefully around the East Precinct while allowing deliveries, sanitation, and easy access.

To sum up, according to the city:

  • The police will respond to “significant life-safety issues” in the CHOP. For other calls (such as reporting property crime), they are trying to “coordinate officer contact” outside the area’s boundaries.
  • The fire department will respond to fires and medical emergencies in the CHOP, once police have secured the scene.
  • The fire department has worked with the CHOP’s volunteer medical staff to arrange for them to take anyone injured to the perimeter of the area and call 911 from there.

There are obvious tradeoffs to this policy. It has clearly helped to de-escalate the nightly standoffs between protesters and the police. But it’s not what local businesses and residents expect when they call 911 — a service they pay taxes for the city to provide.

I hope you found this article valuable. If you did, please take a moment to make a contribution to support my ongoing work. Thanks!


  1. So in conclusion, they’re not responding to 911 calls. Mayor Durkin failure.

  2. Crime is increasing in CHAZ/CHOP. A guy I know left after his belongings were stolen out of his tent. He seemed quite disillusioned. Almost felt bad for him, but feel he learned something about people

  3. With the new king tut blocks the city put in place around CHAZ, no fire truck or ambulance will be able to access those areas.

  4. Sad that early in CHA\Z, one mans small business was completely looted and the SPD would or were not able to respond. A sad and unfortunate event. Reports are coming out that it’s beautiful place to see with a calm, however I’m sure events may unfold to the reality might become marred by opportunists. And if they have the ideas of a socialist society, Give them tickets to Cuba to see how these ideals actually play out.

  5. From a little distance, admittedly, CHOP seems to be devolving into more and more a distraction from the longer term issues and work of social justice, by hangers on perhaps riding the Black Lives Matter wave, good intentions notwithstanding I am sure. And Black Lives Matter!

    Seems more and mote like an updated version of Deadwood, albeit without the Shakespearean overtones or irony.

    Two participants reportedly shot early this morning inside the zone, one dead, one critical, transported to Harborview by private car, as medical and police personnel were turned away, as if to say, “Thank you very much, we can shoot ourselves…victims and suspects to be sorted out, maybe.”

    Meanwhile, some of the people who own small businesses, or who work there or frequent them, or those of us who call this neighborhood home, are beginning to feel unsafe, and would like to move beyond being a right wing talking point and help create the lasting change that is needed.

    To quote Samuel L Jackson, or words to his effect, America is giving birth and is in labor…Cornel West laughed and could not disagree. Let’s hope the newborn grows into something, someone we can be proud of, a descendant of multicultural beauty, a better, more just country.

    rafael sabitini

  6. This is not a protest. Nothing as been accomplished other than PUBLIC buildings and spaces have been vandalized, area merchants and residents are being denied police protection and access to EMS, taxpayers money has funded part of this…just to name a few. All condoned by an incompetent mayor. Now there has been a shooting; leaving one person dead and one person in critical condition. This young person’s death is 100% the fault of our ineffective mayor. Perhaps the equally ineffective Sawant can explain to the young person’s family how “this is a victory.”

  7. These failures not only reflect poorly on the Mayor and the chief of police the reflect very poorly on the ELECTED SHERIFF. If the police department is going to fail to do their job. Why has the Sheriff not stepped up to the duties of their elected office? The County Sheriff is not in office to serve government servants they are there to serve the People by guarding against government abuse. The lack of effort being perpetrated by Seattle’s Chief of Police amounts to dereliction of duty at best. Life is not the only liberty guarantied by the US Constitution. So that is not the only protection the Seattle police should be interested in enforcing… The people of King county should be demanding the elected Sheriff step up to the duties of the office or resign.

  8. As a lifelong Seattle resident I’m favorably impressed by the level of communication and respect Seattle officials and CHOP protest leaders have shown each other. I would have loved to see news cameras show that they are working together to keep everybody safe. Why so many Americans status quo of unequal justice is a good place to stay is a mystery to me.

  9. Nobody thinks “unequal justice is a good place to stay” but looting, burning, and kidnapping fellow citizens is not “showing respect”.

Comments are closed.