A Washington police officer is on administrative leave after posting a video on social media urging cops not to enforce the state’s stay-at-home order.
Officer Greg Anderson with the Port of Seattle Police Department posted the video on his Instagram account on May 6. The video, in which Anderson is wearing his uniform in what appeared to be his police car, has garnered more than 800,000 views.
“I’m seeing people arrested or cited for going to church, for traveling on the roadways, for going surfing, opening their businesses,” Anderson said in the video. “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.”
In another video posted on his Instagram account on May 11, Anderson said he was getting pressure from command staff to take down the earlier video. He said his refusal to take down the video led to a call from his boss, Port of Seattle Police Chief Rod Covey.
“He said, “Greg, if you openly defy your governor, you can’t be a police officer in the state of Washington,’” Anderson said of his conversation with Covey.
He was then told by the department and the police union that he would likely be terminated for refusing to take down the video, an insubordination charge.
In a statement posted on the Port of Seattle Police Department’s website, Covey said Anderson was on leave for violating the department’s policy on the use of social media.
“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,” Covey said in the statement. “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.”
Washington state had the country’s first documented COVID-19 death on Feb. 29. An earlier COVID-19-related death was later found to have occurred in Santa Clara County, California on Feb. 6.
Gov. Jay Inslee has relaxed shutdown rules in some rural areas, but stay-at-home orders remain in place for the Seattle area, and starting May 18 residents in Seattle and King County will be urged to wear face masks in public.