by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
In the wake of the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting, which left 49 dead and 53 injured after a crazed gunman entered the Orlando nightclub in the early morning hours of June 12, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray directed the Seattle Police Department to have as many officers as possible on duty throughout Pride weekend.
'The increased public presence of police on Capitol Hill over the past week was intended to send a clear message,' said the mayor. 'We can't be afraid.'
Murray says he will activate the city's Emergency Operations Center, which allows increased coordination between city agencies. The mayor said it was part of the extra precautions the city is taking in the wake of the Orlando tragedy.
Activating the center equips the city to better respond to emergencies says Barb Graff, director of the Office of Emergency Management.
The mission of Seattle's 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.
Murray addressed a crowd of business owners, police and fire officials, nonprofit leaders, and community organizers at Poquitos (1000 E. Pike St.) during a Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce safety event on Monday. The event, dubbed the Public Safety Happy Hour, was well attended; Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole was there, as was Cameron Black, who runs a security staffing company with several of his employees working in Capitol Hill bars and restaurants. Security personnel from his firm, MacGregor Event Staffing, will be using metal-detecting wands at Capitol Hill venues.
Hundreds of people, particularly those who work in security and nightlife venues, attended city-sponsored 'active shooter' trainings on Capitol Hill June 21-23. Jeff Geoghagan, a member of the SPD's SWAT team, is leading the training sessions at the Cloud Room co-working space on 11th Avenue and at Neighbours Nightclub (1509 Broadway). His training focuses on what he calls the ABCs: avoid, barricade, combat.
It is important to note that the F.B.I. has stated that there is no known threat to public safety or evidence that anyone is planning a copycat crime in Seattle. Still, officials maintain that participants and revelers at both the Pride Parade and PrideFest should remain vigilant.
The Department of Homeland Security wants the public to remember, 'If you see something, say something.'
To report suspicious activity, contact SPD. Describe specifically what you observed, including: who or what you saw; when you saw it; where it occurred; and why it's suspicious.
Suspicious activity is any observed behavior that could indicate terrorism or terrorism-related crime. This includes, but is not limited to:
* Unusual items or situations: a vehicle is parked in an odd location, a package/luggage is unattended, a window/door is open that is usually closed, or other out-of-the-ordinary situations occur.
* Eliciting information: a person questions individuals at a level beyond curiosity about a building's purpose, operations, security procedures and/or personnel, shift changes, etc.
* Observation/surveillance: someone pays unusual attention to facilities or buildings beyond a casual or professional interest. This includes extended loitering without explanation (particularly in concealed locations); unusual, repeated, and/or prolonged observation of a building (e.g., with binoculars or video camera); taking notes or measurements; counting paces; sketching floor plans, etc.
'Some of these activities could be innocent - it's up to law enforcement to determine whether the behavior warrants investigation,' DHS officials said. 'The activities mentioned are not all-inclusive, but have been compiled based on studies of pre-operational aspects of both successful and thwarted terrorist events over several years.'
Remember, if there is an emergency, call 9-1-1.
The 'If You See Something, Say Something' campaign respects citizens' privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties by emphasizing behavior, rather than appearance, in identifying suspicious activity. Factors such as race, ethnicity, and/or religious affiliation are not regarded as suspicious. The public should only report suspicious behavior and situations (e.g., an unattended backpack or package, or someone breaking into a restricted area). Only reports that document behavior that is reasonably indicative of criminal activity related to terrorism will be shared with federal partners.
'Informed, alert communities play a critical role in keeping our nation safe,' said DHS officials. 'The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is committed to strengthening hometown security by creating partnerships with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments and the private sector, as well as the communities they serve. These partners help us reach the public across the nation by aligning their messaging with the campaign's messages and distributing outreach materials, including public service announcements.'
In addition, President Obama and several other dignitaries are visiting Seattle this weekend just as Seattle Pride gets underway, which means it's time to start planning for traffic impacts around the city.
Downtown streets, arterials, and some freeway on- and off-ramps will be subject to intermittent closures throughout the weekend, altering normal traffic flow of buses and cars through downtown.
Travelers should expect delays and are advised to plan ahead on June 24, 25, and 26. Buses on surface streets in the north part of downtown will be rerouted; check with King County Metro Alert for routes impacted. The South Lake Union Streetcar will continue to operate, but the stop at the Westlake Hub at McGraw Square will remain closed. The downtown transit tunnel is expected to remain open and operating.
Roads in Capitol Hill and downtown Seattle will also be impacted by weekend Pride festivities. On Sunday, Fourth Avenue will close from Union Street to Denny Way between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. for the Pride Parade. A portion of Second Avenue will also close as part of the parade's route into Seattle Center.
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