Military and Police

Cop Sues City Over Toxic Exposure at ‘Homeless’ Encampment Cleanup

I’ve written about the “Navigation Team” the city of Seattle deploys to handle “homeless” camp “cleanup” tasks. I’ve criticized the team not because it’s not worthwhile to help people in need but because it seems intentionally onerous, intended to obstruct the enforcement of laws that should apply to everyone.

The city will not allow cops to enforce city laws against trespassing and camping in restricted areas. Instead, a navigation team comprising multiple city agencies, including the police, must all be present before police can “evict” lawbreakers from where they are trespassing.

And now, another unintended consequence rears its proverbially ugly head. The Seattle Times reported Seattle police Officer Timothy Gifford, who’d served as a Navigation Team member, is suing the city for $10 million. Officer Gifford is accusing the city of negligently exposing him to “an extremely dangerous man-made toxin.” The toxic chemical is polychlorinated biphenyls or, more commonly, PCBs.

The cleanup took place at an encampment south of Downtown Seattle. According to the CDC, PCB exposure can cause several health conditions and can also be lethal. Officer Gifford’s suit notes he’s been managing a “life-long liver condition” since he joined the department seven years ago.

The CDC reports “Increased levels of some liver enzymes, with possible hepatic damage,” which directly links the exposure to possibly affecting the officer’s specific medical condition. Since the cleanup, the suit indicates the officer has experienced poor health, including “early onset Type 2 diabetes.”

The city thinks enough of Officer Gifford’s claim that it reportedly sent notices of possible PCB exposure to some 58 city workers. The suit claims the city failed to properly prepare or equip employees for working at such a hazardous location. The city gave no warnings of possible exposure and it failed to provide protective clothing and equipment.

This seems just another example of a leftist city putting its religiopolitical ideology above the safety of its employees. Shouldn’t the city treat such matters with an abundance of caution? For the city’s virtue signaling virtuosos, it’s always full speed ahead, and damn the reality torpedoes.

The city seems to care more about the lawbreaker’s welfare than its law enforcers. So, shouldn’t they at least be concerned about all those “homeless” folks’ exposure to PCBs? After all, it’s the city that allows them to trespass and illegally camp at potential toxic waste locations all over the city.

Recently, I wrote about unintended consequences that make me giggle. However, this unintended consequence is nothing to laugh about.

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Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at

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