Seattle’s Pride weekend is upon us which means hundreds of parties and events will bring out thousands of people from in and around Seattle and Western Washington. With the tragedy in Orlando still fresh in our minds, safety and security at this year’s festivities has been a hot topic.
I spoke with Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole on Thursday about Seattle Police Department’s plans to help keep this weekend’s events safe and fun.
Preparation for this year’s events has been significant, with SPD doubling the number of officers assigned to Pride related events this weekend. O’Toole has scheduled officers to be at 30 large Pride events and SPD is maintaining a comprehensive list of all the smaller Pride events to ensure officers are always in the vicinity. “We have a done a lot of community engagement in advance of this year’s events, meeting with event organizers and venue management,” says O’Toole. “It’s important we strike the right balance. We don’t want a police state. We want to have friendly visibility.”
SPD LGBTQ Liaison Officer, Jim Ritter will be working all weekend, visiting events, venues and personally overseeing response to any LGBTQ related crime this weekend.
People may see EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) teams prior to and during larger Pride happenings along with K-9 units, however, these units have been utilized for several years during the parade and festival and are standard for large events.
Security will be extra tight in Seattle this weekend, as President Obama and former President Bill Clinton are both scheduled to appear at various fundraisers over the weekend. O’Toole says, ” SPD was worked closely with the Secret Service and SDOT (Seattle Department of Transportation) and both organizations will be tweeting out any road closures as that information becomes available.”
I was assured, however, that the parade won’t be disrupted and that spectators should be able to get downtown for the parade and festival without presidential road closures.
The city and SPD will also open their Emergency Operations Center this weekend to better coordinate responses from various city departments.
O’Toole, who has participated in Pride activities since arriving in Seattle, will be out and about again this year, both on Capitol Hill and marching in the parade. Be sure to go say hi if you see her!