City Hall

McGinn Claim that He's Implementing First Police Foot Patrols is Off Base

By Erica C. Barnett June 28, 2010

Mayor Mike McGinn has claimed repeatedly that he (and new SPD chief John Diaz) implemented the "first police foot patrols" in the city---most recently on KING-5 TV last week, when he said that under his and then-interim chief John Diaz leadership, "we have foot patrols for the first time."

At a press briefing this morning, I asked the mayor about this curious claim, and he  said, "My understanding is that regular foot patrols have not been a feature of the police department for some time. If my facts are wrong, I'll stand corrected, obviously, but that was my impression."

A brief review of news reports over the decades shows that foot patrols have been a regular part of Seattle policing since at least the early 1990s, and that while they have gone through periods of more and less staffing, they have been a consistent presence downtown (and one that, incidentally, has been credited with reducing visible crime).

In 2008, downtown businesses credited foot patrols with dramatically reducing crime in that neighborhood.

In 2007, Mayor Greg Nickels called for expanded foot patrols in the U District during his State of the City speech.

In the weeks after the Mardi Gras riots in 2006, the city boosted foot patrols in Pioneer Square.

In 2004, the city beefed up foot patrols on Broadway.

In 2003, the city increased foot patrols by 75 percent.

In 1998, the Weed and Seed program helped expand foot patrols in the Central District.

In 1993, the number of foot patrols was an issue in the reconfirmation of then-police chief Patrick Fitzsimons.

In 1990, Capitol Hill residents credited the presence of foot patrols, horse patrols, and bike patrols in the neighborhood for reducing a growing drug problem in the neighborhood.

In 1989, Pioneer Square employees suggested expanding the foot patrols that were already working in the area to reduce crime.

That same year, Pike Place Market residents said foot patrols and other community-policing efforts reduced crime in the area.

In 1987, the city expanded foot patrols around crime-ridden Yesler Terrace.

Back in 1986, the council discussed expanding foot patrols by 75 percent.  (The expansion never happened, but the existing foot patrols remained).

McGinn was elected in 2009. It's just plain weird that McGinn told KING TV the he and Diaz have  implemented the "first foot patrols" at least 25 years after the city first implemented them.
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