On Monday, police received a report of a suspicious man in Ballard’s Salmon Bay Park. The man’s presence in the park alarmed several families, who contacted police. While officers were quickly dispatched to Salmon Bay Park, a chain of events created a delay in SPD’s response to the park. The incident—and concerns over SPD’s response—understandably generated a lot of questions from neighbors and news outlets and, after researching the incident, we thought it was important to walk through how the department handled this call.
- 911 dispatchers received the call at 6:21 pm. The information officers had at the time from the initial call is that this was a suspicious person.
- Following the initial dispatch, officers did not have information that the suspicious man had made any physical contact with or threatened anyone in the park.
- The incident, which was happening during the North Precinct’s shift change, was logged as a “urgent” Priority 2 call, which required a two officers to respond. All 911 calls are flagged as Priority 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5, with Priority 1 calls being the most life-threatening emergencies—like active shootings, violent assaults and calls involving weapons. Officers are then dispatched to the highest priority calls.
- As officers were responding to the Salmon Bay Park, the 911 communications center received an unrelated report of a possible abduction in progress—a man carrying a screaming child into a vehicle at Golden Gardens park—which required an immediate priority 1 “critical” response. Officers investigated the report, which took some time. The incident at Golden Gardens turned out to be unfounded.
- As officers were investigating the Priority 1 call at Golden Gardens, police received a second call about the man in Salmon Bay park, indicating the man had attempted to make contact with a child in the park.
- While officers were still investigating the Golden Gardens call, a second group of officers just coming on-shift responded to Salmon Bay Park, but the 911 callers and the suspicious man had left the scene.
- Officers contacted the first caller on the Salmon Bay Park incident at home and took a report. Officers also checked the neighborhood for the suspicious man but weren’t able to find him.
Police continued to investigate the Salmon Bay case Tuesday, as news of the incident began to circulate amongst concerned neighborhood groups in Ballard.
- Tuesday afternoon, SPD received a report that a man matching the description of the suspicious man from the Salmon Bay incident was hanging out in Ballard Commons Park.
- Officers contacted the man, took his information and ran his name, which came back clear. Officers were also not able to immediately verify whether he was the same subject from the Salmon Bay incident.
Wednesday morning, police received a delayed out-of-state data response, indicating the man contacted in Ballard Commons Park was a missing man from Montana, who may have some mental health issues.
- Officers continued searching for the man and, once again, found him in Ballard Commons Park.
- Officers and the Crisis Intervention Team brought the man to a local hospital for treatment and a mental health evaluation.
- Officers believe the man contacted Ballard Commons is the same man from the Salmon Bay incident. Police are still investigating the incident.
After reviewing the incident, the 911 call center has determined this call should have merited a faster response from police. The call center will continue to review incidents like this one to ensure our dispatchers are doing everything possible to ensure they are providing the best information to officers on the street. SPD is still investigating the case and anyone else who witnessed the incident at Salmon Bay is encouraged to call 911.