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Updated Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 06:25 AM

Seattle police to boost patrols downtown during holiday season

By Jennifer Sullivan
Seattle Times staff reporter

Plan on visiting downtown Seattle this holiday season? Expect to see a surge of police on the streets.

The Police Department's longtime practice of increasing patrols in the retail shopping core has returned after a two-year hiatus. Starting Nov. 23 through Dec. 26, extra uniformed officers and the department's mounted patrol will be walking the beat, said West Precinct Capt. Jim Dermody.

Mayor Mike McGinn, Dermody, Downtown Seattle Association President Kate Joncas and others gathered Tuesday morning at Pacific Place to announce the patrol strategy. Police said the patrols will be funded by the department's overtime budget.

"There's going to be cost, but it should be within budget," said police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, adding that budget analysts have not yet released how much the patrol emphasis will cost the city.

Whitcomb couldn't say how many extra officers will be working the emphasis, since the officers haven't been selected.

The Seattle Police Department historically has added patrols in the downtown shopping core during the holidays, but because of budget constraints it hasn't for the past two years. McGinn said a strong shopping season is projected, with lots of visitors downtown over the month.

"We want to encourage people to come out," McGinn said. "We anticipate very large crowds."

Dermody said that the overtime staffing emphasis was not triggered by any recent safety concerns in the downtown shopping core.

"It's about visibility," Dermody said. "Presence is important in those 30 or so days. We'll be out there during the peak times."

Dermody said the increased patrols will operate between Third and Seventh avenues and from Union Street to Olive Way. The patrols will be in effect from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, and 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. weekends.

He said extra patrols also will be on hand during those hours in Pioneer Square.

"We're the only concierges on the streets seven days a week," Dermody said.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @SeattleSullivan.






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