Seattle Parks and Recreation is doubling its manpower following a spike in assaults and violence.
Starting Monday, a total of eight park rangers will be on patrol. The department allocated $150,000 for two positions that will concentrate on Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson Park and Pioneer Square’s Occidental Park where residents say crime is getting out of control.
“We get a little uncomfortable,” said Kelly Ross, who works in Capitol Hill.
Concerned about the impact to businesses and residents, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce contacted Seattle Police and the City of Seattle for help.
“Physical attacks, sexual assaults, those obviously concern us,” said Michael Wells, Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce Executive Director.
Doug Hamilton was attacked by a man last week. He’s recovering from a black eye and punches to the head.
“He decked me right there,” said Hamilton.
Peg Bohan and Ken Conder are the newest park rangers that will patrol the area that’s now prone to attacks.
“I like to think of them as challenges and opportunities,” said Bohan.
Rangers won’t carry a gun or have the ability to arrest anyone.
“We’re going to be that visual deterrent,” said Corby Christensen, a security supervisor.
The rangers will be able to write tickets, give warning and if the situation warrants it, call Seattle police. Response times are expected to be quicker.
“I think as a concept it sounds really great,” said Ross.
Victims like Hamilton fear the city’s solution is only a band-aid, but believes it’s a start.
“It’s not going to stabilize a crazy person’s meds (medicine) that’s out decking people. I’m glad they’re putting more foot patrol in Cal Anderson. That’s a step in the right direction,” he said.
The two new hires will begin their new positions paired up with experienced rangers. They’ll patrol until 10 p.m. seven days a week and during peak times.