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Night lighting at Cal Anderson part of McGinn’s new crime prevention strategy

Following increased neighborhood concerns over crime around Cal Anderson Park, Mayor Mike McGinn announced yesterday that lights in park will now stay on throughout the night as part of his new crime prevention strategy. The nighttime lighting, which includes the flood lights on the turf field, went into effect last night. The park’s hours will remain 4 AM-11 PM (sorry to anyone who had their hopes up about midnight softball).

McGinn also announced that he would spend $400,000 for increased police patrols, to be used through the end of the year.

“These patrols, initiated in early spring to combat the major crimes that typically come with warm summer weather, will continue to address hot spots where crime data show additional resources are needed. This additional funding will extend the violence prevention emphasis patrols detail through the end of the year, funding 6,000 extra officer hours.”

“We’re getting more officers out on the streets, including on foot and on bike, to protect public safety and respond to recent serious incidents and community concerns,” said McGinn in the press release.

According to the mayor the crime data will be used to target busy transit corridors, such as 3rd Avenue in downtown and Broadway on Capitol Hill. The city is also in the process of hiring 30 more police officers. The increase patrols comes on the heels of full-time park ranger patrols inside Cal Anderson Park.

McGinn’s announcement came three days after Martin Anwar Duckworth shot a bus driver in the face while exiting a downtown bus. The announcement also came on the same day that the Seattle Times published this front page story that reported downtown crime has stayed constant over five years even through McGinn has touted crime reductions on the campaign trail. Following the story, council members Sally Clark, Tim Burgess, and Bruce Harrell penned this blog post about what further actions the mayor should take to stem violence. Here’s an excerpt:

“Last Monday morning’s shooting of a Metro bus driver reinforced for many a belief that downtown street crime and disorder is out of control,” wrote the council members. “Seattle has a reputation as a city of innovation and creativity. We can use this spirit to tackle public safety challenges, but to do so requires that the Mayor acknowledge the problem, embrace a continuum of response (including arresting and prosecuting the high frequency, persistent offenders causing the most harm), and give our police officers clear and consistent direction to keep our community safe.”

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31 thoughts on “Night lighting at Cal Anderson part of McGinn’s new crime prevention strategy

  1. You mean since his re-election campaign has him in second place he thought it’d be a good idea to do something meaningful instead of worrying about how high a new apartment building can be?

  2. While I applaud this move by McGinn, it was a long time coming and seems to strangely coincide with the upcoming election

  3. Meanwhile, a block and a half away, SPD remains safely behind the walls of their bunker. Why aren’t they on foot patrol?

  4. If you want criminal activity to go away stop providing lights for the criminals. They don’t go where they can’t see what they are doing.

    The 4&6 story limits have produced high rents. If developers were permitted to build higher bigger buildings, we would have more supply for the demand. This limited supply of places to live and work which has been created has caused rents to be ridiculous. What a waste.

  5. Hope this has some positive effect. It certainly can’t hurt. I also like the idea of turning on the sprinklers at night at the park

  6. If crime has remained constant, but the population has increased, the crime rate will have fallen. However, as rational people, we don’t respond to crime rates, only crimes.

  7. Here’s an idea, how about assign 4 officers to walk pike/pine and cal Anderson? And have them ticket anyone in the park after it closes or doing illegal activities such as drinking or smoking pot?

    Problem solved, and it doesn’t cost any money or much thought. It’s really not hard, lets stop trying to be creative solving our crime problem and just put boots on the ground and enforce current laws.

    • Yeah, I would think that having SPD randomly walking beats through the park and the surrounding area would make the riff raff uncomfortable. I don’t understand why they don’t do it.

      • Seattle is passive aggressive. We’d rather turn on lights or sprinklers than have a face to face conversation with others when needed.

    • People drinking or smoking pot in the park is not the problem. The problem is criminals from outside of the neighborhood selling hard drugs or targeting people for robberies. Ticketing otherwise peaceful people who are discreetly drinking or smoking is a waste of SPD’s time.

      • There’s actually no such thing as discreetly drinking or smoking. I agree that these things are (and should be) very low on the enforcement priority list as far as “crimes” go, but they are both against the law in public.

  8. Another documented tactic that has worked wonders in cities across the world is short ornamental fencing around city parks. Of course they are well-designed as to be attractive to look at and any criminal worth their salt could leap them in a bound – but the studies have shown that they decrease crime and loitering or sleeping in public spaces. Essentially working on the human nature of people who are doing something illegal don’t like to be behind fences or have to come and go through only a narrow number of access points. By no means am I advocating that we spend money on this in times like these – especially when, as other commenters mention the easiest approach, there being a precinct a friggin’ block away and foot patrols would be very effective. But, while the city parks dept. has recently considered and executed on environmental design approaches to reduce crime in Cal Anderson such as trimming back of certain landscape features – why are we not as such a progressive city, with so much development occurring not having a broader consideration of CPTED strategies? Oh, wait! Because crime rates are at a 30 year low and the SPD is utilizing data to respond to, blah, blah, blah… So, there’s nothing wrong. We fixed it. Or we are fixing it. So, just vote McGinn!

  9. Are the new park rangers actually patrolling in Cal Anderson? Little Tashkent park on Boylston has been recently overrun by folks who seem to be living there. Their trash, needles, bodies, and kibble are scattered all over the grass. A couple of weeks ago I called the Parks Dept about this and was told that Seattle Police have an injunction against any park rangers leaving the downtown area. That said, the police have swung by several times, and the squatters are down to just 2 or 3 from 8 or more, but would like to know more about this injunction.

  10. How much is this extra electricity going to cost, especially the field lights which are quite expensive. I’m all for more light at night but this might also be a time to replace the space lighting/non-dark-sky compatible globe lamps in the park as well. And I’m as suspicious as the next person as to the timing of this with the election. No matter, he doesn’t have my vote.

  11. Hmmm . . . does this fall under the premise that when you turn on the lights, the cockroaches will scatter? Better take refuge then, McGinn. This gambit isn’t going to convince me to vote for you.

  12. Yesterday my daughter told me that St Joseph School is no longer going to use Cal Anderson for soccer practice for the second grader’s because some of the parents’ were concerned. I am dissapointed in that and I took my grandson down to the playground today, and I was surprised at the number of loose pit bulls…that scares me more than the people.

  13. Sorry to hear that. Maybe the next mayor will stop setting policy by the Stranger whispering in their ear and actually put people who aren’t criminals first.

  14. As someone who works with Cal Anderson Park Alliance and spends a large amount of time in the park, I can say that police patrols have definitely increased and I have observed the park rangers on multiple occasions. Also, McGinn has taken special concern for the park over the last several months, and has been working closely with Seattle Parks and the community to come up with solutions. I do believe he is legitimately concerned about crime there. So far he has done everything that has been suggested in the community meetings.

    • Thank you for your work and it is appreciated to hear from someone involved in the situation. I still like the idea of turning the sprinklers on at night though :)

  15. If the lights are going to be on, why not have midnight softball (or soccer, or field hockey or whatever)? Allowing organized groups to use the park on a reserved basis 24/7 would go a long way toward deterrring the criminal element.

    • Not to be too much of a NIMBY, but the park is in a mixed neighborhood, and people live next to the park on two sides. Part of the purpose of park hours is to address noise concerns. I love living next to the park, but at 11pm people should have a reasonable expectation of being able to sleep. This also comes back to the lights. Lighting the field won’t do anything for crime. The people sleeping on the field aren’t the ones mugging and stating fights. It’s a waste of money and frankly a nuisance. A more effective solution would be to improve patrols around the park and improve the sidewalk lighting.

  16. McGinn is such a disingenuous weasel. He had been repeatedly denying a crime problem, saying crime rates are down, until The Seattle Times exposed his statements as inaccurate a few days ago. Then, and only then, did he start to address the problem, which is obvious to just about everyone both downtown and on Capitol Hill. Gosh, wonder why he did this? What’s that, you say?….”There’s an election coming up.” He’s a disgrace.

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