The Seattle Police Department is making final preparations should a Seahawks win – or loss – send fans into the streets en masse.
All five of the city’s precincts will have extra patrols, focusing on districts with more clubs, bars, and restaurants.
Following the Seahawks’ victory against the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl last year, thousands of fans took to the streets of Seattle in celebration. Some took the fanfare too far, lighting fires in intersections in the University District and Pioneer Square. At First Avenue and Yesler Street, a historic pergola was damaged when fans climbed on top of it.
“That was celebratory damage. People were trying to be cool, trying to be happy,” said Assistant Seattle Police Chief Paul McDonagh, who will lead the department’s overall response to potentially rowdy fans on Sunday. “Obviously we’re going to take steps to mitigate that this year, but at the same time they weren’t out there to do damage.”
West Precinct Captain Chris Fowler will be in charge of managing the department’s response to celebrations in the downtown core, including Pioneer Square, on Sunday. He said a Seahawks win would create a higher risk of danger or damage.
“Because people are going to want to celebrate and they get around other people who are celebrating and, of course, you add alcohol into that mix and that can create some concern,” he said.
Captain Fowler said he has gotten a chance to review video and other material from last year’s celebration in Pioneer Square, which ended with officers using flash bang grenades to clear fans out of the street.
“There was a clear point where the behavior of the crowd went from a celebration into a riot,” he said. “So at that point the commanders on the scene decided that the need for public safety was enough where they began to clear the streets.”
Still, the vast majority’s of 12’s celebrated in a respectful way, and Chief McDonagh hopes that will continue this year, should the Hawks win.
“You can’t endanger other people and call it celebratory,” he told KIRO Radio. “Go out, have a good time, be respectful, don’t hurt anybody.”