Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

City Fights Crime with Big Lightbulbs

An officer once told me, “this is Free-attle, we can’t do nothin’ to you,” regarding after-hours lingering in Capitol Hill’s beloved Cal Anderson Park. But city officials are doing their darndest to make sure “closed” means closed.

On Aug. 15, Mayor Mike McGinn announced that the flood lights over Bobby Morris playfield would stay on throughout nights in an attempt to discourage crime at Cal Anderson Park in Capitol Hill, which had been on the rise.

Cal Anderson’s hours are 4:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m., but the park has for a while been a hotspot for after-hours lingerers and drug activity, scattered across the playfield and other shadowy areas of the park.

However, the success of using bright lighting to deter Hillfolk from entering the park past hours has been debatable.

For some, it has seemed to pose somewhat of an invitation, rather than expulsion.

According to the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog, the experiment has also posed a disturbance to nearby residents, such as those of Hunters Capital-owned building.

A representative of Hunters Capital told Capitol Hill Seattle Blog, “We feel that while the idea was a good one in theory, it has created more bad than good,” saying the park “appears to be open 24/7 with the lights on and people are treating it as such.”

The Mayor’s Office has said that they will be investigating the efficacy of the lighting experiment, and a decision on whether or not the lights will stay lit at night will be made by the time Thanksgiving rolls around.

McGinn’s administration also announced a $400,000 increase in an additional 6,000 more officer patrol hours. In July, another $150,000 was spent on the hiring of two new full-time Seattle park rangers as well.

The efficacy of patrol cars driving through the park at night is debatable as well, considering quick drive-throughs don’t necessarily keep people out of the park, as discussed by commenters on Capitol Hill Seattle Blog.

Personally, I’ve walked through the park at night before, and seeing a patrol car did inspire me to instead walk around the park. And I would have, if the police officer hadn’t stopped me and told me not to worry about it, because this is “Free-attle.”

Thus, it is questionable whether or not the Seattle Police Department really takes the nighttime kickouts from Cal Anderson all that seriously.

I also noticed a few instances at Cal Anderson of late-night lawn watering, which off the bat seemed to be another tactic of keeping people off the premises, though this is just speculation.

Methods like these have been criticized for not being the “greenest” of strategies to close the park, though has been said to be relatively cheap.

As of right now, it’s looking as though McGinn and the Seattle Police Department will have to come up with something else to keep Seattleites out of one of their favorite parks, as it remains a popular spot for youth to hang out at night, as well as maybe some criminals.

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