JASON RANTZ

Rantz: Seattle is so dangerous, King County security will escort employees to bus, train, ferry

Nov 10, 2021, 9:12 PM | Updated: Nov 11, 2021, 5:40 am
courthouse, Seattle City Hall Park...
A homeless encampment outside City Hall Park in the summer of 2021. (Photo: Jason Rantz/KTTH)
(Photo: Jason Rantz/KTTH)

Downtown Seattle and Pioneer Square have become so dangerous that the King County government will now have security escort employees to the bus, train, or ferry for their commute home.

The county’s Walking Bus pilot program was announced internally to employees on Wednesday at the downtown campus, located at the King County Courthouse. Two security escorts will walk employees from the courthouse to the King Street Station and the Colman Dock. Additionally, they will escort staff for several blocks to get to their cars or bus stops safely.

The move comes after years of security complaints from county staff due to the growing and aggressive homeless population that has consumed the neighborhoods.

Seattle isn’t safe for county workers

The pilot program launches on Nov. 15 and will offer two dedicated security escorts for the group walks.

They meet at the 4th Avenue entrance of the King County Courthouse. The 3rd Avenue entrance was shuttered because the homeless living on the street kept attacking or harassing workers and building visitors. An escorted group will walk to the King Street Station once each afternoon. The escort groups to the Colman Dock are offered four departure options.

The announcement does not indicate if these security escorts will be armed, but it seems unlikely. Security with the department running the pilot, the Facilities Management Division, only carries pepper spray and wears a bullet-resistant vest while patrolling the property.

Security guards have complained that they face a dangerous disadvantage while patrolling should they encounter armed criminals.

Rantz-county

When will the police be able to do their jobs?

That it’s this unsafe around the county courthouse should embarrass city leaders. An unarmed security escort won’t make that much of a difference, unfortunately. The area-homeless can be unpredictably violent.

In September, one of the homeless men who frequented Occidental Park stabbed a passerby at random. He slashed the victim’s face while walking his dog.

“I want Seattle City Council to see this,” the victim told KIRO 7 TV at the time. “I want them to hear it and stop putting out little sound bites where they’re like we need this taken care of ASAP. ASAP is too late. We need to get it done yesterday.”

Rather than support a sweep of the several encampments or recommend police get involved, Seattle City Councilmember Andrew Lewis, who represents the district, pretended Mayor Jenny Durkan is responsible for the mess the city has become under the Council’s policies.

“Under the charter, the council sets the budget priorities, and we provide oversight,” Lewis told KIRO 7 TV. “But we don’t actually execute services. The mayor executes services.”

Among the current council budget priorities? More cuts to the Seattle Police Department. The council proposed nearly $11 million more in cuts, including hiring incentives to recruit more police to the force. The SPD currently operates with under 1,000 deployable staff, which explains why violent crime has been trending in the wrong direction. Their staffing should be over 1,500 for a city of this size.

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Rantz: Seattle is so dangerous, King County security will escort employees to bus, train, ferry