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Some security guards in Belltown will be armed

The city is promoting night life, but leaving the owners of the clubs in a position where they feel they have to carry more of the public safety burden.
Tia Lou in Belltown

Tia Lou in Belltown Ronald Holden

A hot dog cart on First Avenue is part of the nighttime scene in Belltown

A hot dog cart on First Avenue is part of the nighttime scene in Belltown Ronald Holden

You're going to start seeing patrols of gun-toting, black-uniformed guards along Seattle's First Avenue in coming days and nights. Not the likes of costumed, publicity-seeking "superhero" Phoenix Jones (who goes about unarmed) but employees of a privately owned security service called Central Protection.

This is in response to the fatal stabbing of 22-year-old Faustino Cervantes outside Tia Lou's lounge Oct. 26. A suspect in that crime was arrested several days later, thanks to identification made through Facebook. According to a Seattle Times report, one witness who saw the fight told police she didn’t know the attacker’s name but they had mutual acquaintances. She was reportedly able to find the man’s name by looking through her friends’ Facebook accounts.

Meantime, there's a new protection program for First Avenue between Battery and Lenora that comes from an initiative by Belltown club owners themselves. 

Nightlife industry observers regularly complain about a lack of parking for patrons, except for the few establishments that provide a valet service. Here's a similar situation, with Belltown club and lounge owners complaining about a lack of police presence; and someone is in fact stepping up and providing security services.  

As it happens, Central Protection is owned by Dino Stalina and Denis Kurdija, the proprietors of Sarajevo Lounge, a block north of Tia Lou's. 

The Seattle Police Department said it has no problem with armed security guards in Belltown. SPD spokesman Sean Whitcomb told Q13, "You've got additional eyes and ears on the streets." No word yet on staffing levels or the hours of the Central Protection patrols.

On its Web site, the state Department of Licensing outlines the requirements for security guards to carry arms. One requirement is holding a firearms certificate from the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission. 

Private security services themselves are nothing new, of course. Stadiums and arenas use them at sporting events and concerts; gated residential communities depend on them, the point being that a security service is hired by and works on behalf of a private property owner rather than the well-being of the general public. There are several dozen security services in the Seattle area, including national firms like Pinkerton and local outfits like Northwest Protective, in addition to "alarm" companies like ADT. But Central Protection appears to be the only one that specifically promotes armed guards. 

Is this a logical response to a need that the police department seems unable to fulfill (despite Mayor Mike McGinn's enthusiastic promotion of Seattle nightlife)? Or is it the beginning of a sort of Wild West approach?

Ronald Holden is a regular Crosscut contributor. His new book, published this month, is titled “HOME GROWN Seattle: 101 True Tales of Local Food & Drink." (Belltown Media. $17.95).


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Comments:

Posted Tue, Nov 6, 1:58 a.m. Inappropriate

So, if these security people that work for private businessmen are carrying guns, then I need to carry a gun as well to protect me from these businessmen/women hired thugs. One of these thugs had better not attempt to mess with me. They are not police, and they have no authority over a citizen. If myself and the businessmen/women hired thugs have to shoot it out, then so be it. I refuse to be bullied by businessmen/women. Then after the shoot out with their thugs, I will go after the businessmen/women who hired the thugs.

jhande

Posted Tue, Nov 6, 10:25 a.m. Inappropriate

It would be even more interesting if the security force is vetted to a very high standard such as Green Berets or SEALs who can kick some serious ass without resorting to use of guns first. Wonder whether violence will go up or down first?

Maybe a good basis for another reality TV show to help pay for them?

Posted Tue, Nov 6, 1:19 p.m. Inappropriate

Personally, when one of these individuals approaches me, my gun comes out pointed at them.

jhande

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