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UW adds unarmed security officers near campus after recent spike in violent crime

The U District has seen a recent spike in violent crime. The university is adding security officers in the area Friday and Saturday nights to increase safety.

SEATTLE — The University of Washington (UW) is adding more security patrols in the University District as part of its plan to improve safety after a recent spike in violent crime.

On Oct. 14, the university and the University District Partnership placed two unarmed security officers to walk along University Way Northeast and Brooklyn Avenue Northeast between Northeast 42nd and Northeast 45th streets. They will patrol the area from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. every Friday and Saturday night.

The UW is covering the cost, and the University District Partnership hired the staff as part of an expansion to its security contract that is already in place.

According to a UW spokesperson, there is a benefit of having extra sets of eyes on incidents if they occur. 

"They are trained in de-escalation and intervention and can directly communicate with SPD, as needed,” they said.

Some students said they don’t feel particularly safer or any less safe.

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"It does feel like a band-aid solution,” said Lakshin Kumar, a UW student. “There are issues that haven’t been solved in decades, not a new occurrence of violent crimes happening.”

Seattle police added emphasis patrols in the area earlier this month after two separate shootings in the U District left four people shot and one man killed after being hit by a driver leaving one of the shootings.

Just outside the area of increased patrols sits the College Inn Pub, which opened in the 1960s.

The bar’s owner Jen Goyner bought the place in July of 2021 after it closed due to the pandemic. Goyner was a regular for 30 years.

“I didn’t know there was a third act for me and the pub, but here we are,” Goyner said.

Goyner said the bar is just removed enough that it hasn’t faced security issues like other businesses, but the crime did impact the bottom line.

“We have noticed a drop in business since the incidents that happened on Oct. 1, but I think more people are starting to feel comfortable and are starting to come back again,” Goyner said.

According to Seattle Police Department’s crime dashboard, there have been 31 calls for service in the U District neighborhood in the last seven days. The majority of those calls were thefts, followed by reports of assault.

“It's great to have a lot more security or police presence, but when you get down to it, we’re not a tiny little small town,” Goyner said.

Goyner said she feels for her fellow business owners and hopes these efforts work.

“The U district is sort of an organic system, and you need to make sure everyone is healthy and doing well business-wise and community-wise because then everybody rises,'' said Goyner. “I really appreciate what the business leaders here in the U district are trying to accomplish. We see it, we notice it, and we’re grateful.”

There are ongoing discussions with the UW, the University District Partnership and the city of Seattle to increase lighting in some areas and to work with business owners to deter crime.

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