Ron Smith, president of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild, is resigning amid heavy criticism over a Facebook post about the death of five police officers in Dallas last week.
The resignation is effective July 31, and union Vice President Kevin Stuckey will fulfill the rest of Smith’s term, which was to expire in March, according to an email Smith sent to union members Tuesday. Smith became president in 2014.
In an interview Tuesday night, Smith said he did not want to become a distraction over the Facebook post. It read, in part, “The hatred of law enforcement by a minority movement is disgusting … #Weshallovercome” and it drew ire on social media.
“I’m at peace,” he said Tuesday. “Could I have chosen my words differently?” he added, saying he had made a mistake.
This Facebook post was later deleted by the guild.
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He also said he did not want to undermine the federally mandated reform effort under way in the Seattle Police Department by causing “further distractions.”
“I have poured my heart and soul into this organization …” he said in the email. “I have been made aware that I have let the membership down, something that I deeply regret.”
After deleting the post last week, the Guild took down its Facebook and Twitter accounts. Smith earlier said it was deleted because it had been taken out of context. In the Tuesday night email, Smith said he posted “in the heat of the moment.”
Smith wrote: “What the post was meant to say is that it is disgusting that a small segment of society perpetuates violence toward law enforcement officers across this country. At no time was there any intent to apply blame to any organized group; only the small segment of society which has the propensity for violence toward law enforcement.
“We shall overcome meant just that; law enforcement will persevere and work through this time in history just as law enforcement did after 9/11 and how local law enforcement did after we lost six local law enforcement officers in a 6-week period in 2009, including Seattle Police Officer Tim Brenton,” he continued. “I regret that this post offended anyone, as that was not the intent in any way.”
Smith left his position as a detective in 2014 to become the elected president of the Guild, which represents more than 1,200 officers and sergeants.
Smith worked with Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole to create a social-media policy for officers, which went into effect in 2015.
Information from The Seattle Times archives was included in this report. Jessica Lee: 206-464-2532 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Steve Miletich: 206-464-3302 or email@example.com.