Seattle Police Foundation celebrates decade of partnership

The Seattle Police Foundation Celebrates a Decade of Partnership with the Seattle Police Department

This week, as our communities mark the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, we are reminded that the Seattle Police Foundation (SPF) is now in its tenth year. Moved by those events and their impact on first responders, a group of community volunteers led by former Seattle Mayor Wes Uhlman and then Seafair President Beth Wojick, together with then Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, began discussions about forming a private non-profit organization that would become the Seattle Police Foundation. The Seattle Police Foundation, patterned after those in other cities and similar organizations in Seattle (Seattle Parks Foundation, Seattle Center Foundation, and Seattle Public Library Foundation) was officially incorporated as a non-profit charitable corporation on January 4, 2002.

The Foundation was started to provide ethical and legitimate means whereby the community and business leaders could partner with the Seattle Police Department (‘SPD”) to financially, and otherwise, support public safety. SPF acknowledges that it is the responsibility of the City of Seattle to fund basic law enforcement services and needs for Seattle.  However, consistent with experiences of law enforcement in other major metropolitan cities, private investment can significantly assist the SPD. This is done by:

  • enhancing relationships between the community and the SPD,
  • improving officer and citizen safety by supporting educational and training opportunities for officers and citizens that would otherwise not be available, and
  • funding cutting edge equipment and technology.

 In the past decade the SPF is responsible for funding more than 200 projects or programs totaling more than $4 million dollars in support.  Efficiency has been the hallmark of the organization — for every dollar raised by the Foundation, approximately 80 cents goes to support programs that help SPD. Meanwhile the Seattle community and Seattle Police Department have benefited greatly from an ongoing partnership between the Seattle Police Foundation and the SPD. “SPD is undoubtedly better equipped to fulfill its mission of fighting crime, reducing fear, and building safer communities as a result of its partnership with the Seattle Police Foundation,” says Chief John Diaz.

 SPF’s civic contribution, like that of other public-private partnership foundations in Seattle, is especially important during the challenging economic times we are currently facing today.  “We are always able to help propel the Department into the future by funding innovative programs and technologies, and during very challenging budgetary times, we are happy to step in and help preserve its past and present,” notes SPF’s CEO Renée Hopkins.

Among its most significant accomplishments has been to sponsor an annual awards banquet honoring the outstanding work of Seattle police officers. Proudly on Friday October 28th the Foundation will be hosting the Tenth Annual Seattle Police Awards Banquet at the Sheraton Seattle. Some of the significant programs of note funded by SPF include:

  • Multiple domestic violence programs (Victim Support Team, DV Assessment Tool, etc.)
  • The IF Project to improve the rehabilitation of female inmates and prevent youth from entering the criminal justice system. (www.theifproject.org)
  • Life-saving decontamination spray for all officers
  • Mounted patrol
  • Bridge House (funding for teen prostitution programming)
  • Youth and Community Outreach including truancy prevention, SPD ethnic advisory councils, and youth police academy, etc.
  • 8th year of hosting community Picnics at the various Precincts
  • The purchase of all Canine dogs currently in the Unit
  • Specialized equipment to assist dedicated units of the SPD including SWAT, CSI, and Canine in their duties

Exemplifying the difference the SPF makes involves a recent shooting earlier this month in the Rainier Valley, where suspects left the scene in a vehicle and a chase ensued. One suspect jumped out of the car and fled on foot. However, officers recovered a handgun that the suspect threw while running away (The traffic pursuit continued and the other suspects were arrested).

Officers from the Canine Unit tracked for the outstanding suspect. As darkness fell, officers and their canines tracked through a wooded area with a creek and heavy brush, an area described as a knee-deep swamp. As they searched for the suspect, one officer had a hand-held FLIR thermal imaging camera that was purchased by a grant from the Seattle Police Foundation.

Canines gave some indications that the suspect may be near but nothing could be seen, and maneuvering through the thick brush and water in the dark was challenging. Officers used the FLIR camera to scan the area where their canines showed interest, and saw a small sign of a heat source in the distance. A short time later they located the suspect hiding – in mud and water up to his chest! The suspect surrendered when challenged and did not force the officers or canines into a physical confrontation and was safely apprehended.

This hand-held FLIR helped the Seattle Police Canine Unit locate and arrest a dangerous suspect who needed to be caught! 

No one appreciates the success of the SPF’s mission than former mayor, Wes Uhlman. In 2001 Uhlman said “We see our role as providing funding for items the department’s budget simply can’t afford, but which will enhance the department’s ability to protect the public safety.” Today Uhlman, who is still involved with the organization, says he is “proud to still be associated with an organization that has so carefully held to its charge and has greatly impacted the safety of our community.”

As we look back ten years, the Seattle Police Foundation would like to thank its thousands of supporters who have helped improve public safety in Seattle. SPF’s current Chairman, Sam Baker noted, “In a time of huge public skepticism, it is heartening to see the outpouring of community support provided through the Seattle Police Foundation for those that keep us safe daily. We look forward to the next ten years of helping to keep Seattle safe.”

For more information about the Seattle Police Foundation, please visit www.seattlepolicefoundation.org or contact Foundation President Renee’ Hopkins at (206) 684-0373.