Mayor Mike McGinn and Interim Police Chief Jim Pugel announced today that they are investing in public safety in Seattle parks by hiring two new Park Rangers to patrol Cal Anderson Park and Occidental Square full-time. This announcement comes in the wake of several high-profile incidents of violence in local parks, particularly Cal Anderson.
“We heard from the community that this was an issue, that people weren’t feeling safe or able to fully utilize these parks, so we’re responding to those concerns” said Mayor McGinn. “By hiring new Park Rangers, we can create a safer and more welcoming atmosphere in our parks. And we’re asking park users to be proactive as well – our officers need your help to keep our parks safe. We encourage you to call 911 when you see any kind of disturbance or crime in our parks.”
The funds for the new Park Rangers will come from underspent Seattle Parks and Recreation operating budget dollars. Through careful management, Seattle Parks and Recreation was able to stay under budget this year, allowing the city to make this investment at a critical time.
“Park Rangers are key to the city’s efforts to keep Seattle parks safe” said Parks Security Supervisor Corby Christensen. “We remind park users of the rules, moderate disputes that can sometimes arise over things like use of playfields, and keep an eye on the park in general. We work closely with Seattle Police officers to address issues as they arise. I encourage all park users to approach Park Rangers with any questions or concerns you may have. We need the public to be actively involved in our efforts to keep our parks safe.”
“Thank you to the Mayor’s Office, Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Police Department for listening to concerns from the community and acting on them” said Michael Wells, President of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce. “Having a full-time Park Ranger on duty in Cal Anderson will make a huge difference in the way people perceive the park.”
The new Park Rangers will be hired, trained and on duty by the end of June, just in time for summer weather. In the meantime, police will contribute to this effort with emphasis patrols in Cal Anderson and Occidental, with existing Parks employees working overtime to create a safer atmosphere in these parks as well as others. Parks will be working with police to determine optimal shift schedules for the rangers to most effectively deter crime.
“With the warmer weather we are seeing an increase in public safety issues in Cal Anderson Park. We’ve begun several new approaches in response” said East Precinct Commander Captain Ron Wilson. “Our Anti-Crime Team will be spending more time proactively working to address public safety issues within the park and surrounding neighborhoods. Patrol officers will be making more frequent visits during park closure times to ensure all is well. Our Community Police Team has begun to assist our patrol resources by outfitting some of their officers with bicycle uniforms. These bicycle-trained CPT Officers will periodically break away from their traditional role in order to expand police presence in various hotspot areas within the East Precinct.”
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