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Flashback: How Seattle police helped protect the public during wartime

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SEATTLE METROPOLITAN POLICE MUSEUM — The bombing of Pearl Harbor brought President Franklin D. Roosevelt to declare war on japan — and the United States full bore into World War II.

Much before that infamous day in our history though, Seattle police, the city, and the entire community were already deep into wartime.

Officer Jim Ritter explains in ‘Flashback.’

“Several years prior to the United States declaring war on Japan and Germany in December of 1941, Seattle played a major role in the war effort. The city was not only a major troop and equipment deployment hub, but it was also considered a major target for Japanese bombings and sabotage due to its proximity to Japan and our major military installations.”

“Many officers left the police department to go fight in the Pacific and over in Germany. They also performed federally mandated seizures of weapons, radios and other contraband from Japanese-Americans. They also detained Japanese-Americans for federally mandated internment. In addition to this, they were also responsible for enforcing the residential and vehicular blackout laws, providing security at all major bridges and critical infrastructure as well as tunnels, and using their personal vehicles for duty-related activities. While using their personal vehicles they would often have to display placards like this on their license plate numbers, letting the military police know the person driving this vehicle was friendly and not an enemy.”

“When World War II ended in 1945, the police and citizens throughout the region breathed a collective sigh of relief and soon returned to a welcome sense of normalcy.”

“Nearly 70 years later, police continue to train for and assist in preventing threats to the region by a different enemy, terrorism.”

“We should all take comfort in knowing that our dedicated police officers continue to keep us safe regardless of the challenges. I`m Officer Jim Ritter, and this is 'Flashback.’''

If you have questions about law enforcement history, email Ofc. Ritter at

To find out more about the museum, go to

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