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Volunteers needed to walk the Capitol Hill beat for community safety patrol

They've got a logo and a Facebook site but OutWatch still needs volunteers before patrols can begin

They’ve got a logo and a Facebook site but OutWatch still needs volunteers before patrols can begin

Organizers of a recently revived Capitol Hill safety patrol say they’re flush with enthusiasm, now they just need some feet on the ground. In March CHS reported on the formation of OutWatch at Dr. Jen’s House of Beauty, the group’s informal headquarters, following a spat of LGBT targeted street violence on Capitol Hill.

Organizer Dr. Jennifer Dietrich had planned to get safety patrols out and patrolling a week after the initial meeting, but said more volunteers are still needed.

“There is a tremendous amount needed to get this off the ground, but we’ve done most of it,” she said. “Once we get enough volunteers, we can start patrolling immediately.”

Those interested in joining OutWatch can stop into Dr. Jen’s or contact Dietrich directly. Dietrich said OutWatch already has t-shirts designed, Zipcars to shuttle drag performers and others to and from gigs, and planned patrol routes. The plan is for members to walk Capitol Hill beats from 10 PM – 3 AM in groups of four, wear OutWatch shirts, and carry mace. Dietrich said she wants all members to receive some self defense training, but that having a public presence will be the most important deterrent to would-be criminals.

The original Q-Safety Patrol was formed in 1991 in response to a rash of gay bashings that organizers felt police were unwilling or incapable of preventing. The original group was trained by the New York City-based Guardian Angels and adopted their signature berets.

In 1996 an up-and-coming Lt. Jim Pugel, then running the East Precinct’s community policing team, gave credit to the group for drastically reducing reported hate crimes in the city. Precinct leaders more recently have been less keen on the idea saying that the patrols could put un-trained citizens at risk and spark confrontations.

You can learn more on the OutWatch Facebook page.

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12 thoughts on “Volunteers needed to walk the Capitol Hill beat for community safety patrol

  1. I’m confused by “…Zipcars to shuttle performers to and from gigs…” — are they talking about drag performers and others who might be especially targeted? Or is this some weird terminology for the OutWatch volunteers themselves?

  2. Two questions:

    Is there a general defense fund in case an outwatch volunteer is arrested?

    What’s the weapon policy?

  3. There are a lot of missing details regarding the structure and methodology of the organization.

    What training is to be provided to volunteers and who is doing the training? Does the organization have the support of the police department, and, if so, what does that support look like? Is there insurance to cover injuries to volunteers while patrolling? Is there legal representation provided to if an alleged perpetrator wants to press charges against the volunteer? Are volunteers being explained the limitations and legal consequences of involvement using force or weapons like mace? Who makes decisions when an incident happens? What is the accountability if someone breaks the law (think excessive force) while interacting with an alleged aggressor?

      • You’re assuming I have already tried and found them unresponsive. I’ve done this work before and I’m deeply concerned about the lack out transparency and/or outreach to those who came before. There are some huge safety and financial liabilities to volunteers that I haven’t seen addressed in public forums. At the same time, this lack of transparency makes me hesitant about any involvement, regardless of my experience.

        I can act as an individual to make my neighborhood safer. It doesn’t need to be an organized group, it needs to be all of us, as individuals, willing to stand up and say “no.” Just this week I stopped a domestic violence incident in front of Seattle Central, called 911, and followed the couple till the police arrived, resulting in the perpetrator’s arrest. I had no weapon, no mace, I’m a middle aged female, and all it took was me yelling stop and telling him no for the violence to end. This isn’t rocket science, people. We just have to stand up.

  4. The people who attack us many times are what people call “normal looking”. Many times they will attack when you are alone just for that one moment, even in a supposedly safe area. They are just around the corner, or sometimes right in front of you. Many times they are not alone.

    These people have the same look in their eyes when they rape, attack gays, or attack minorities.

    Seattle proper is a haven. Then you have the rest of the northwest & commercial media. Fight back. Organize.

    No more divide & conquer.

    Tracy? You out there? Didn’t you work with the squad in the 90’s & then security at SCC? Can you give them some ideas?

  5. Pingback: Capitol Hill’s Out Watch anti-hate crime citizen patrol meets — Plus: ‘A History of Queering up the Hill’ | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle