— SEA Mayor's Office (@OfficeofMayor) June 21, 2016
Mayor Ed Murray said his increased public presence on Capitol Hill over the past week was intended to send a clear message: “We can’t be afraid.” As a longtime Capitol Hill resident and Seattle’s first openly gay mayor, Murray has struck a cautious but defiant tone as the city heads into this weekend’s Pride celebration in the wake of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
“There is a lot of grief and a certain amount of fear out there,” Murray told CHS “I thought it was important to be with folks in LGBT bars.”
In a first for Seattle Pride, Murray will activate the city’s Emergency Operations Center, which allows increased coordination between city agencies. Murray said it was part of the extra precautions the city is taking in the wake of the Orlando tragedy that left 50 dead.
Barb Graff, director of the Office of Emergency Management, said activating the center equips the city to better respond to emergencies:
It puts people from various City departments (like Police and Transportation) in the same room with people from partner agencies (like Public Health and Hospitals) to coordinate field and strategic activities. The mission of our City Emergency Operations Center is to minimize the impact of emergencies on the community through coordinated planning, information-sharing, and resource management between all city departments, partnering agencies and the public.
The Seattle Police Department will have its emergency operations center open, which it does for most major events.
SPD will also have a greater presence on Capitol Hill’s streets and sidewalks. Murray said the city may call in additional officers from outside jurisdictions, but “not in a way that it’s like an armed camp.” While staffing levels might be up slightly from past Pride events, SPD says it is mainly sticking to its playbook.
“We’re all operating with Orlando in our thoughts, but we have to fall back on training,” said SPD spokesperson Patrick Michaud. SPD staffing managers are also having to contend with President Barack Obama’s fundraiser visit on Friday.
Last week the FBI said it had no information on specific or credible threats in Seattle heading into Pride weekend. SPD says it too has no information to suggest there is outsized cause for concern.
That has not stopped many Capitol Hill nightlife owners and workers from preparing. More than 100 people showed up for the first of two “active shooter” trainings on Capitol Hill Monday evening. Tuesday’s session focusing on outdoor venues was booked to capacity as well. Jeff Geoghagan, a member of the SPD’s SWAT team, is leading the training sessions at the The Cloud Room coworking space on 11th Ave. His training focuses on what he calls the ABCs: avoid, barricade, combat.
Mayor Murray also attended a public safety event at Poquitos on Monday, along with Cameron Black who runs a security staffing company that is especially active with several Capitol Hill bars and restaurants. Security personnel from his MacGregor Event Staffing will be using metal detecting wands at Capitol Hill venues, he said.
Some Pike/Pine owners have already taken extra precautions for this year’s Pride. Wildrose owner Shelley Brothers will have metal detectors of her longtime lesbian bar.
In another effort to get people home safe, the city has partnered with Uber and Lyft to offer discounted rides throughout the weekend.