Cops ask for more lights around Cal Anderson during Pike/Pine crackdown


The Murray administration is dusting off one of the public safety experiments from the McGinn camp’s attempts to quell Capitol Hill crime.

A Seattle Parks rep tells CHS that the lights around Cal Anderson’s sports field will be left on until 2:30 AM on weekend nights for the coming weeks:

We will leave the lights on at Bobby Morris Playfield until 2:30 a.m. this weekend and next. The lights will remain on early Saturday mornings, 9/13 and 9/20, and early Sunday mornings, 9/14 and 9/21.

The representative tells CHS the move comes at the request of SPD as it increases patrols, has officers walking the beat, and has brought in gang units to attempt to calm spiking street crime numbers in the neighborhood. “The short-term strategy is obviously we’re saturating this place not just with precinct resources but with city-wide resources,” SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole told CHS about the efforts around Pike/Pine. “The long-term strategy is that we’re developing a community policing plan for every neighborhood of the city.”

In 2013, Mayor Mike McGinn’s office was credited with the idea to keep all of the park’s lights on overnight as street crime also spiked that summer. But the “experiment” was brought to an end in November as officials said they had “not been able to conclude that having the lights on at night was an effective deterrent to crime” and that the lighting caused neighbors to complain. There were also issues with inappropriate use of the park at night.

Cal Anderson is open to the public from 4 AM to 11:30 PM but many people walk through the green space — and hang out there — at all hours.

We have questions out to Parks about the decision including what it would take to make the extra lighting a permanent schedule.

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17 thoughts on “Cops ask for more lights around Cal Anderson during Pike/Pine crackdown

  1. “Cal Anderson is open to the public from 4 AM to 11:30 PM but many people walk through the green space — and hang out there — at all hours.” So here’s a crazy idea. How about the police actually enforce this rule that is obviously being flouted all the time. It seems a lot of scumbags use our poor park as their base of operations. So let’s at least toss ’em out at night. The perimeter isn’t particularly large, and it wouldn’t be that hard to patrol. So…11:30pm comes along. Everyone out! Or is that too fascist of an idea for my fellow Capitol Hill dwellers?

    • They do enforce the rules. This past Wednesday about 1:30 AM I saw 3 officers ask & escort someone out of the park near the grassy knoll.

      It doesn’t have anything to do with fascism or snarky attitudes. Your idea is impractical as anyone asked to leave at 11:30 could return at 11:35. It takes more than a single sweep. SPD has been doing patrols around the park at all hours for some time. I see them often patrolling around the park. The perps & crims know this as well & keeps their eyes out for the cops. The difference lately has been that they are on foot in the park late at night rather than in their car.

      I’m a smoker and live across the street from the park. Am often in the park, on its edges, in the wee hours.

      • Your wording was a little vague when you said “The difference lately has been that they are on foot in the park late at night rather than in their car.” I’m guessing by “they” you mean the police. If that’s the case, then a foot patrol within the park is a HUGE difference over an officer staying in their squad car and just tooling around Cal Anderson.
        And sure, the scumbags keep their eyes out for cops. I would too if I were a scumbag. But I’m guessing if the scumbags know there’s a regular police patrol in Cal Anderson and its vicinity at the wee hours of the night, they won’t be so eager to rob and harass people.

      • Apologies. The difference is that SPD has been using foot patrols in the park rather than driving their cars through the park. I have seen SPD drive their cars on the paths throughout the park often over the last two years I lived across the street. It has only been recently that I have seen them on foot patrols. All of this during the wee hours.

  2. Or, they could enforce the park hours. Just a thought!

    The park is three city blocks. It’s not exactly enormous – shouldn’t be unthinkable to enforce the rules.

    • They do enforce the rules. This past Wednesday about 1:30 AM I saw 3 officers ask & escort someone out of the park near the grassy knoll.

      It takes more than a single sweep. SPD has been doing patrols around the park at all hours for some time. I see them often patrolling around the park. The perps & crims know this as well & keeps their eyes out for the cops. The difference lately has been that they are on foot in the park late at night rather than in their car.

      I’m a smoker and live across the street from the park. Am often in the park, on its edges, in the wee hours.

    • An argument could be made that the closure hours contribute to crime in the park. The more people present and using the space, the police will tell you, the more eyes and ears to deter the most serious stuff like robberies.

      • I did a guided walking tour of Central Park in NYC last spring. It is a massive park in the middle of millions of people, and has very little crime. The park closes at night (1am?), and this rule is strictly enforced. It’s just a matter of making and enforcing sensible policies…and it should be easy considering Cal Anderson isn’t huge. Cal Anderson today is the Central Park of 20-30 years ago, basically a criminal hostel.

      • I don’t buy it, Justin. There will never be enough non-criminal people in the park during the wee hours to deter crime. The presence of law-abiding citizens in the park during the closed hours just provides people (and their smartphones, cash, etc.) for the criminals to prey upon.

  3. So why not remove hours and keep the park open 24/7. Keep the new LED lights on during all dark hours. Install lower level lights under the trees so the park is well-lit and inviting for regular people to enjoy throughout the night. If the Capitol Hill is supposed to be vibrant and welcoming, why are we closing a city park at all.

    People who complain about the light pollution, install black out curtains just like those who are annoyed with the cities new LED street lights elsewhere.

    • yeah, great idea. let’s install a bunch of fancy, expensive lights for the idiots who hang out there to destroy. hey, maybe we’ll get lucky and they’ll choose to destroy the lights and the irrigation at the same time.

      • I never mentioned expensive or fancy so not sure where you’re getting that out of my post.

        It must be difficult for you to live life with a half-empty glass.

  4. I see no reason to close the park.

    It’s in the middle of the neighborhood, and would be a huge operational burden to the police who theoretically could be doing more important things.

    I think the extra lighting will help, at least from a psychological perspective.

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