Why Seattle Police were out in force along Alki Beach on Sunday

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

If you were at Alki Beach on Sunday afternoon/evening, you might have noticed a significant police presence. While driving Alki Avenue between 5:30 and 6 pm, we noticed at least half a dozen police vehicles – including unmarked and marked SUVs patroling, as well as a parked van and specially equipped SUV in the Don Armeni Boat Ramp parking lot.

Don Armeni has been the focus of frequent reports of drivers racing/doing stunts; Southwest Precinct Lt. Dorothy Kim told the Alki Community Council last month that she and a colleague were tasked with drawing up a plan for addressing seasonal recurring problems.

Wondering if Sunday’s show of force was a preview of that plan, we asked precinct commander Capt. Kevin Grossman for comment this morning. Here’s his reply via email:

SPD received information last week that the car racers that have been problematic throughout the Puget Sound—including an impromptu event in the U-District on Friday that resulted in a car being flipped were planning to gather in Des Moines and travel to Alki and the Don Armeni Boat Ramp to assemble and race.

With that information, I directed Lt Kim to put together a plan to deter racing and criminal activity using a combination of on-duty and off-duty SPD resources and in coordination with our partners, including the Seattle Parks Department, Washington State Patrol, and the Port of Seattle Police Department. Although the Community Response Group was initially tasked with responding to a demonstration downtown, when that event concluded, some CRG resources were redirected to Alki to assist the Southwest Precinct and WSP.

While the Don Armeni parking area was held mostly empty as shown in our photo, we noted driver groups parked along stretches of Alki and Harbor Avenues. No major incidents were reported.

As for the longer-term spring/summer plan, with warm weather on the way later this week, Capt. Grossman told WSB:

We are in the process of putting the final touches on a plan for Alki for this summer. This has been a larger challenge than in previous years due to SPD’s staffing: the Southwest Precinct is down by one-third from last year, we no longer have our bike squad or our Anti-Crime Team to dedicate to Alki, and overtime is hard to come by. That being said, we will finalize and implement our Alki plan, and we will continue to monitor events on Alki throughout the summer in a joint effort with the Seattle Parks Department.

As reported here last month, Southwest Precinct had 58 patrol officers at year’s end, down from 70 three months earlier.

41 Replies to "Why Seattle Police were out in force along Alki Beach on Sunday"

  • JohnW April 12, 2021 (2:07 pm)

    I rode my bicycle the whole harbor island to Alki Light House yesterday.  
    Part 1)
    Passing the Don Armeni  I noticed half a dozen street racing cars in a row backed into the parking places.  Perhaps fifty feet away a SPD SUV was parked.  
    Sometime later while returning, I paused to look at the cars.   Two of them had no license plates or temp ‘plates’ on their rear.  As I circled admiring the aggressive modified racer look of vehicles, I noticed that none of these vehicles had a front license plate displayed.  
    I then circled over to the still idling  SPD SUV with two uniformed officers (in masks) sitting inside.  
    “High Officers.” I said.  
    “Just one quick question.  Does Washington State require the display of license plates on vehicles?” with a jerk of my masked helmeted head toward the in-your-face  offenders.
    The two PSD exchange locks with each other and a chuckle as I road off.
    Part 2)
    I continued the road along the bike path until it converges into the closed  traffic section of Alki  beyond beach and boardwalk.  
    This is the section that is closed to traffic around point including where it becomes Beach Drive to  Cormorant Cove where another city barricade closes that to traffic.  
    As I was riding, perhaps fifteen mph, in what would be the shadows traffic lane, I heard someone yelling honking and reving their motor.   I looked back to see an all black, blacked out windows, maybe Chrysler 300.  I never saw the driver.  
    I hollered, “road is closed” and  continued riding in the proper lane for bikes.  
    Couple of seconds later, a black clad motorcyclist on a black Japanese performance motorcycle started raving it’s motor and charged up beside me.  The black full face helmet hit his face while he yelled at ne to pull over.    
    At that point our little parade with the motorcycle and me abreast and the lunging roaring sedan behind me, the road ‘widens’  at the curve near the point and the motorcyclist followed by the sedan roared off.   Incredibly, I pedaled around the point to see they had both pulled over and parked along the waterfront.  
    Stupidly, I paused long enough to remind them the road is closed.  
    I was not angry enough to pull out a recording device which was probably wise. 
    Must be getting old.

    • jackson April 12, 2021 (3:23 pm)

      I don’t understand the point of someone doing this. If you are so interested in upholding the law and it means that much to you join SPD. Citizens who do this endanger themselves for no reason, not all people are going to be kind enough to drive off like these guys did. Use your head, stay out of it, the cops have it under control. If they wanted to cite them for no plates they could have. They don’t need people like you making sure they know how to do their job. 

      • ProudPapa April 12, 2021 (4:17 pm)

        I am completely aligned with Jackson here – what a ridiculous set of events JohnW instigated. I know I’m getting older and more grumpy too- but instigating altercations with people is just stupid. The police are there to stop racing – they are smart enough not to just walk up and start harassing. They have probable cause to approach if they chose to as the cars were missing plates – so just leave them alone and let them do their job. As for trying to provoke them while riding a bike… do you realize a car will win that battle. Don’t even go there. Just let them pass – and if they are racing then call the police. I don’t want to see you become a statistic just because someone irritate you.

      • Matt P April 12, 2021 (4:40 pm)

        I agree about confronting the people revving their engines.  That’s just asking to get run over, but I don’t agree with keeping our nose out of police business.  The police work for us and when citizens help, it makes their job easier.  It may not have been what they were there for, but citing cars for not having front plates when they were sitting there not doing anything but being a presence would help in overall deterrence.  And the cops don’t have it under control.  If they did, what happened in the U-District last week would have never happened.  Street racing then trashing and flipping a car.  The police were nowhere to be seen during all of that and it’s not like street racing is a new thing.  They do it all over Seattle especially in Belltown.

        • StopCuttingDownTrees April 12, 2021 (5:45 pm)

          Washington State law requires license plates to be attached conspicuously at the front and rear of each vehicle [if two license plates have been issued]; however, the law also allows for an exemption if it is impossible to affix the plate. According to RCW 46.16A.200, “The Washington state patrol may grant exceptions to this subsection if the body construction of the vehicle makes compliance with this section impossible.”

      • Resident April 12, 2021 (7:49 pm)

        Are you kidding me? You’re going to Taryn to the person that is the law abiding Citizen and protect the law breaking citizens? This is the exact problem. Get a life. Don’t try to protect the people breaking the law and dinner great the person trying to protect it.

      • Art V April 13, 2021 (5:31 pm)

        Seems like a bad idea for John to join the SPD. While I understand his desire to have the law enforced, I’ve never seen such stupid spelling errors. “High officers””as I road off”We clearly need police officers to tell the difference between tasers and handguns, and I wouldn’t trust John to be anywhere near that smart.

        • WSB April 13, 2021 (6:11 pm)

          I suspect John and others have become victims of auto-correct/auto-complete. Yesterday another commenter complained that, in criticizing someone else, they were trying to “dinner great” that person.

          • JohnW April 14, 2021 (7:45 am)

            Thank you WSB Editor.
            It is the thought and ideas that many of us attempt to communicate that should count.  
            Posting comments is a casual writing endeavor for me.  
            I try to introduce facts and opinions that are not the norm.  I don’t mind being criticized for the content of what I write, but the casual nature of this format and auto-correcting that haunts this luddite should not overwhelm the content and thoughts.
            And regarding the police shooting tragedy jab at me, I will point out the commonly reported act of people driving cars their whole lives who confuse the gas and brake pedals causing accidents and deaths.  
            The rare occurrence of such tragedies of people making lethal mistakes with guns or cars is not the subject.  It is, rather,  a personal attack on me by way of uncorrected typos and software glitches.
            Sometimes I attempt to re-format and correct but get timed out in the middle with the resulting errors.
            I suggest attacks like Art V’s  reveal a bankruptcy of intelligent response?   

    • StopCuttingDownTrees April 12, 2021 (4:04 pm)

      1) No roads are closed along the Alki area. Anyone can drive through and park in the SHS zone from 63rd, past the Lighthouse, to Constellation Park. 2) Unless you are law enforcement on duty and West Seattle is your jurisdiction, you have no business confronting legal, law-abiding, tax-paying motorists.

      • KBear April 12, 2021 (6:09 pm)

        Law abiding motorists have front license plates and don’t threaten bicyclists.

        • Teo April 13, 2021 (2:23 pm)

          I’m a 100% law abiding motorist and I don’t have a front license plate on my car.

          • JohnW April 14, 2021 (7:50 am)

            Maybe TEO can explain what he drives and why he makes such a claim.  The law was confirmed by SPD and is in the code. 

      • JohnW April 12, 2021 (7:46 pm)

        Stay Healthy StreetsFrequently Asked QuestionsApril 2021

        1. What are Stay Healthy Streets?Stay Healthy Streets are open for people walking, rolling, biking, and playing and closed to pass through traffic. The goal is to open up more space for people rather than cars as a way to improve community and individual health.
      • SHS Supporter April 13, 2021 (9:29 am)

        Hello -Please check the current language from SDOT’s website  https://www.seattle.gov/transportation/projects-and-programs/programs/stay-healthy-streets
         that says, “
        local access, deliveries,
        waste pickup, and emergency vehicles are allowed” or 
        what’s on the SDOT signage, “Jobs, Homes, Deliveries”.   The residential streets between 63rd and Alki and Beach street are  closed to thru traffic so people can safely walk, bike, skate  and use wheel chairs in the street.  Please note too that  Alki Ave SW , 63rd and Beach SW south of 63rd  drive are all arterials with wide lanes designed to handle the volume of traffic and public transportation.  The streets around Alki Point are narrow, deemed  residential by the City, have a 15 mph speed limit and have never been designed to safely  handle arterial traffic. 

        • StopCuttingDownTrees April 13, 2021 (12:31 pm)

          It’s perfectly legal for anyone to drive into and park within a SHS zone. 

          • JohnW April 14, 2021 (8:04 am)

            it is perfectly legal as  long as drivers follow the rules in effect after they drive around the STREET CLOSED sign and barricade.  
            Those rules mean yielding the street  to pedestrians, wheelchairs, bicyclists, skateboarders, runners, sightseers and complying with the old posted speed limit of 15 mph.  
            Within those parameters, delivery services, residents and visitors are allowed to enter and drive carefully on this Closed Street.  
            The individuals I had the unfortunate experience with were in violation of multiple laws besides the obvious speeding on a STREET CLOSED.  
            Confronting and harassing a legally permitted activity (bike riding in an area closed to traffic) is outrageous.  
            I was the one confronted and threatened by these scofflaws.  
            It is amazing how commenters blame me, somehow shifting the narrative to me being the aggressive one.   

    • nwpolitico April 12, 2021 (4:29 pm)

      John, thanks for sharing your experience. Please ignore the negative comments directed toward you.

      • Steve April 12, 2021 (5:49 pm)

        I agree–thank you, John.

      • Eric1 April 12, 2021 (6:51 pm)

        LOL  I got to agree with NWP and John.  Somebody (not me) have got to put these satellite males in their place. I mean if they were primary males, they wouldn’t cruise around and “meet up” with other males harassing the only thing slower than their cars/motorcycle (which is a bicycle).  I had a friend who owned a really nice exotic car and there was no dark tint in the windows. Why?  Because you want to be seen in a nice car.   If you have to hide your face when you drive what does that say about you (or the car)? You might as well wear a bag on your head in a convertible.  I don’t  like Harley’s but cruiser bike riders tend to wear ineffective open helmets so you know who they are, looking good going slowly from bar to bar on a shiny, noisy bike.  Conversely, everybody looks the same bent over on a sport bike wearing a full face helmet no matter what you do.  How are you supposed to stand out and attract females if they can’t ID who you are?  SMH.  Probably why these guys act the way they do, they aren’t smart enough to figure out why the only “action” they got on Sunday was from an older male on a pedal bike.

        • mark47n April 13, 2021 (4:29 am)

          This is one of the more bizarre moments I’ve read in awhile.Your theory about being seen vs. not being seen is ridiculous, especially about motorcyclist’s helmet choices. As one of those pesky Harley riders I wear a skid lid in order to comply with the law. most of the years that I rode in CO I wore no helmet and that was an active choice…because I like it. I liked the way it felt. For the OP, This sounds like classic passive aggression. Not really much more to say about that. I also saw something weird, on Sunday evening. I was foolishly riding my Harley around Beach Drive while trying to salvage some of the nice weather, and when I was passing Salty’s there was a cyclist stopped on the right, straddling his bike, with his left arm stuck straight or to the side, hand all the way open palm facing back.  As I passed through the intersection trying to figure out what he was doing I noticed a family waiting to cross on the left. I was so busy watching the odd behavior of the cyclist making a left turn sign form the right side while stopped that I never saw the family behind the car wanting to cross. Given the cyclists manic expression of herculean effort I was wondering if he was having a stroke. Maybe he was…from rage.

          • JohnW April 13, 2021 (12:00 pm)

            Motorcycle style and dress is a prime element of the enthusiast rider.  
            They are defined by their choices.  
            Just as a Harley rider is rarely seen with a full face hemet and crotch rocketeers are rarely observed sporting German Army style helmets.  
            I personally, have never seen a a guy wearing “colors” on a sport bike.

            For examples that queer Mark47n’s  ridicule of being seen, one has only to watch a slew of movies where where such costumes are used to such effect.

            Mark in apparently making fun of someone attempting to warn him not to run over a legally crossing family in the middle of Alki on a sunny Sunday is confounding?  
            Mark was in violation of failing to yield to pedestrians as the bicyclist did and has no business riding a Harley, or any motor vehicle, if he is so easily confused by traffic laws and pedestrians.

      • JohnW April 12, 2021 (7:19 pm)
        1.  nwpolitico thanks for a rational response.
          But I post my comments fully aware and hoping they promote discussion.  Since I made the  rare WSB post ‘outing’ myself as ‘stupid but right,’ there is little need for the victim blaming of some comments.  

        But to the subjects at hand, I personally have been stopped and cited by SPD Motorcycle Patrolman in West Seattle for expired tabs (long story).  I also have had a my car ticketed for lack of front license plate while legally parked at a paid-up meter.  

        I may be old fashioned, but why can’t the laws be enforced equally? 

        For those  posting their ignorance about what the street closure means in regards to motorcyclists and performance vehicles demanding the right of way, speeding on a closed street please educate yourselves.
        – https://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/SDOT/ProjectsAndPrograms/Stay%20Healthy%20Streets/

  • Rick April 12, 2021 (3:45 pm)

    Sounds more like stupid.

  • spooled April 12, 2021 (4:00 pm)

    The visible Police presence probably kept it to a car show and not a burnout competition. This is worth funding.

    When there are enough Police to look at plates I wish they’d focus on expired tabs before lack of a front plate. This costs you and me both.

    The road is not closed.

    You were probably lucky.

  • Scubafrog April 12, 2021 (4:58 pm)

    We need SPD speed cameras on Alki.  More revenue for bridges, a deterrent for speeding filth who’d put our families in danger.  I’m going to contact the SW Precinct immediately (how cool is it they were down here on Sunday, in force!).

    • My two cents ... April 12, 2021 (5:40 pm)

      @scubafrog – RCW needs to be addressed or modified to allow for blanket speed cameras. 

    • The King April 12, 2021 (7:15 pm)

      And you say this because you believe money from tickets goes to bridges? 

      • Jort April 12, 2021 (10:57 pm)

        I don’t care if they take the money and then light it on fire, I want people to face severe and increasing financial penalties for breaking the law and endangering our safety. If people can’t afford the tickets then they can STOP SPEEDING.

        • StopCuttingDownTrees April 13, 2021 (12:10 am)

          So you want SPD pulling young men of color over (the majority of those with the street-racer cars) and harassing/citing them? Aren’t you always on here calling for SPD defunding for social justice?

    • invalidsyntax April 13, 2021 (10:08 am)

      Speed cameras on Alki sounds like a no-brainer. Not only would it introduce some accountability, but it would get more of these offenders into the police database. I don’t know what level of offense is required to impound someone’s vehicle, but It seems to me that impounding the vehicles of repeat offenders would send  a message that would be difficult to ignore.

  • Runner April 12, 2021 (6:03 pm)

    John W., I totally get where you are coming from. It’s very hard for some of us that care about where we live and the safety of so many people along Alki Ave.  The police should enforce the laws, I’m not sure why anyone would call that harassment. 

  • Michael April 12, 2021 (6:45 pm)

    Spare me the complainants about staffing and budget.  This has been a problem for years, even when the force had more resources.  They failed, time to try something new.

    • SHS Supporter April 13, 2021 (9:42 am)

      Enough people who have lived here for years are tired of the unsafe conditions caused by drag racing and  cars being driven recklessly.    Did you know that four cars were totaled  at 4 am last Friday at 63rd and Beach?   There has been a rash of  major car  accidents in  and around Alki Point in the last week and one fatality.      The current status quo is unsafe for  pedestrians and cyclists.     With police resources dwindling, there must be a better solution.      Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED).   Change the physical space to deter the unsafe and reckless  behavior.  

      • JohnW April 13, 2021 (10:53 am)

        Sadly, our infrastructure is built out and CPTED, a promising concept, would be controversial (ride free or die crowd), require massive spending, a long dance with the  Seattle Process with success decades away.

        I have been biking the Lincoln Park to Alki route since the 1960s and I have never felt so unsafe or witnessed such aggressive  selfish behavior on Beach Drive and Alki.
        I would like to see imaginative ways to add enforcement that could make immediate changes, maybe saving lives.  
        How about some sort of community support or crowd funding to hire SPD enforcement?

        Many of us that treasure the outdoor richness of West Seattle and use it respectfully are being edged out by illegal and outrageous behavior that appears to be ignored by the police.  
        I would be happy to contribute to make our streets safe, or at least as safe as they used to be.

        • GreenLakesLover April 14, 2021 (2:03 pm)

          John, “ignore” is indeed the operative word.   It’s my understanding when police were out in force on Sunday, the car rally that assembled  on the Alki Point SHS was not told to leave.  As one earlier post said, SPD has had far greater resources in the past and did nothing  to address the situation then. We can have a very long  discussion why SPD  has deliberately ignored,  and continues to ignore enforcing certain laws it chooses to,  including the noise ordinance which specifically identifies vehicles with modified exhaust systems as illegal. Reaching consensus on what “better policing” might look like in situations like this is still evolving . And there is the problem of addressing the growing erosion of civil cooperation as you have noted. The aggressive and unsafe behavior isn’t limited to Beach Drive alone.  All of this leads me to conclude that we need to create physical barriers to deter this behavior. In other words CPTED,  which is under SDOT’s jurisdiction.

  • No license plate no fine April 12, 2021 (6:49 pm)

    I was driving past Chelan Cafe turning from Delridge westbound to Spokane St around 4:30 when I noticed about a dozen of the racers come off the lower bridge exit.  I did not notice if they had license plates or not.  That’s one way to avoid the fine.

  • WS neighbor April 12, 2021 (7:03 pm)

    We live on Admiral Way, the speeding & loud noise vehicles are out of control.  I have called the SPD numerous times to no avail!  The speeding and loud noise vehicles will continue as there is never any police presence on Alki or Admiral Way! So sad we are paying high taxes for our property and when you call the Police Department you get minimal response.  So sad!

  • JohnW April 12, 2021 (7:29 pm)

    Missing from this piece is any data about citations that actually penalize the scofflaws endangering our community.  The piece mentions “no major incidents” thanks WSB.  But  Capt. Kevin Grossman’s email makes no mention of active enforcement, just the passive presence of SPD.

  • d April 12, 2021 (9:06 pm)

    Surprisingly, the bridge closure hasn’t deterred the fart cars.

Sorry, comment time is over.