Thank you for an Evening of Hope

On Saturday night I had the privilege of attending the Seattle Hotel Association’s Evening of Hope Gala and Auction.  The designated beneficiary for the event was our very own Seattle Police Foundation.  The honorees for the event were none other than my friends Gil Kerlikowske and Anna Laszlo.  As you undoubtedly remember, Gil was my predecessor as Chief of Police for the Seattle Police Department – he continues to serve our country as the “Drug Czar”, the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.  Anna can best be remembered for her work on the 5th Avenue Theatre Board and for spearheading our “West Side Story Project”, a collaborative effort between the Seattle Police Foundation, The 5th Avenue Theatre, the Seattle Police Department and Seattle Public Schools to talk about and counter youth gang violence.   The designated beneficiary for the event was our very own Seattle Police Foundation.   

With the theme, “Heroes Among Us”, the gala paid a fitting tribute to the men and women of the Seattle Police Department who protect our city every day and night.  Joining me at the event were Officers Joe Cepeda and Ryan Gallagher of Seattle Police Pipes and Drums, Detective Kim Bogucki of the “If Project”, Sergeant Kevin Grossman, Hostage Negotiator and Professional Standards supervisor and Sergeant Sean Whitcomb of Public Affairs.  They are just a select few of the heroes that have dedicated themselves to a career of public service – our department consists of hundreds of men and women just like them.  In fact, a number of department members – sworn and civilian, uniformed and plain-clothes – volunteered their time to attend this amazing event to ensure its success.

This event would not have been possible without the tireless effort of the members of the Seattle Hotel Association and Seattle Hotel Association President Howard Cohen.  I cannot begin to express the immense gratitude that I have for Howard, his board and those that worked closely with them to support their efforts. 

For the Seattle Police Foundation to have been selected as a beneficiary of the Seattle Hotel Association’s “Evening of Hope” fundraiser is truly an honor.  It is a great benefit to the Seattle Police Department and the communities that we serve.  Since 2002, the Seattle Police Foundation has raised more than five million dollars.  That money has been invested in community partnerships, employee development and specialized equipment and technology for our officers.  Many of you probably aren’t aware that department units like SWAT, CSI, Victim Support Team, K-9, and Patrol Operations are regular recipients of bi-annual grants funded by the Seattle Police Foundation.  Our Picnic in the Precinct program wouldn’t be possible without the Foundation and let’s not forget the horses!  In 2011, the Seattle Police Foundation stepped in to conduct a fundraising campaign to preserve our historic Mounted Patrol Unit, some of the most visible and beloved members of our department.

The work behind this year’s Evening of Hope has clearly been rewarded.  The Seattle Hotel Association successfully raised over $400,000.  Clearly, there is no shortage of generosity and goodwill in our community! 

As Chief of Police and on behalf of the men and women of the Seattle Police Department, I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to those who sponsored the event, those that made the auction items possible and also those who purchased them!  Once more, special thanks to Howard Cohen and the members of the Seattle Hotel Association.  Also, thanks to the Seattle Police Foundation President and CEO Renee’ Hopkins and the Seattle Police Foundation Chairman of the Board of Directors Sam Baker.  Thank you for making our officers safer and our communities stronger. 

John Diaz, Chief of Police