Seattle PD struggles to keep city safe during Taylor Swift concert weekend amid record staffing lows

"...patrol operations is dangerously close to being 50% down from minimum safe staffing levels.”

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
Hundreds of thousands of people came to Seattle for a Taylor Swift concert and several other major events over the weekend, leaving the already understaffed police department stretched past the breaking point. 

Crowd counters estimated that over 250,000 people were in the SODO neighborhood Saturday and Sunday for Taylor Swift’s New Era Tour and sold-out Mariners games.

In a statement to his membership, Seattle Police Officer Guild (SPOG) president Mike Solan said, “Despite the hard work all of us are continuing to do, today patrol operations is dangerously close to being 50% down from minimum safe staffing levels,” adding that Saturday’s special events staffing was also “…down by at least 40%.”

SPD has lost almost 600 officers since the Seattle City Council worked to defund the department in 2020 during the George Floyd riots that rocked the Emerald City, leaving the staff well below minimum staffing levels. Officer departures were followed by a massive spike in crime.

Complicating weekend problems was a surge of officers calling in sick, with Solan stating that many officers are burnt out from all the extra demands on top of their already overloaded workload.

Early Sunday morning, officers were unsuccessful in attempts to break up an illegal street race near Capitol Hill after participants refused to comply with public orders. According to Seattle Police, though officers remained in the area, a few hours later four people were injured, and one was in critical condition after a shooting during the race.

Solan told KOMO News, “It was unruly across the entire city last night in terms of officers going call to call. They were 50% down on their minimum safe staffing levels, and I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse.”

The Post Millennial also received reports of light rail customers, including teens, coming home from the concert Saturday night being exposed to meth from vagrants and having to get off the train before their stops due to the side effects.

Sound Transit told The Post Millennial in a statement, "Unfortunately, we did not get any reports of this incident at the time, so security wasn’t aware of it. If we had been, we would have responded in real-time."

King County is on track to far exceed last year's record overdose totals, but rather than dealing with the crisis, county officials made time to declare "Taylor Swift Week."

Kayla Hannah of Olympia told KOMO News regarding going to the events, “Bringing extra water, bringing pepper spray.” 
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