The first of June 2011 marks Renton's inaugural day of no-nonsense enforcement at the transit center.
"It's probably going to make some people upset," Deputy Chief Tim Troxel told a group of business owners this morning at a quarterly meeting of the Renton Chamber of Commerce downtown committee.
Officers — in uniform and plain clothes — will ticket anyone who breaks the law. That includes the transient population, high school students, men and women in business suits, and even Metro Transit bus drivers.
It they break the law, they'll get a ticket.
Wednesday's switch to official notification follows a two-week warning and education period that began on May 17, where officers issued about three dozen written warnings and citations to scofflaws. During that same period, the department expelled six people from the transit center for a seven-day period for various offenses including robbery, open container and fighting.
It's all part of the city's efforts to enhance public safety in downtown Renton and the Renton Transit Center. Officers will take a zero-tolerance approach for unlawful or inappropriate behavior such as trespassing, littering, jaywalking, and unlawful bus conduct as defined by the Revised Code of Washington.
The city unveiled its downtown public safety initiative early last month. The new plan calls for strict enforcement along with additional police presence — nine officers up from the six who were previous stationed downtown
Officers will patrol the downtown core, Rainier Avenue to Main Avenue between South Second and South Third streets, from noon to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday because that's when the area is most active, said Troxel. The downtown will be covered by regular patrols on the off-hours and on Sundays.
Commander Clark Wilcox also attended this morning's meeting and said that the department understands that the increased enforcement will likely deter repeat offenders from the transit center, but acknowledged that the activity may get pushed into the surrounding neighborhoods and cities.
"If they go out (of the downtown core)," he said, "we're prepared to deal with it."
Day One of Renton's Downtown Safety Initiative:
Renton's Direct Enforcement Team (DET) took to the streets around 5 p.m. Wednesday following a lengthy briefing and first-day preparations. A jaywalker earned the initiative's first citation not more than 200 feet from the Department's small office in the parking garage at the transit center.
"We will take action on every violation, big or small," said Sergeant Todd Frazier who oversees the eight officers who patrol the area on foot, bike and by car. "We're here to help this be a crime-free environment, and to improve safety."
The officers aren't here to profile possible violators.
"There will be no selective enforcement," he said.
At about 5:30 p.m., two officers on bike stopped another biker for two offenses: riding through the downtown business district and not wearing a helmet. The officers discovered that the man also had two outstanding warrants, one for theft and another for drugs. Instead of a simple citation for biking through the downtown district without a helmet, the man was arrested.
The department is also monitoring transit center activity through video surveillance cameras and will rely on tips from the public.
Not all police-civilian contact resulted in a ticket. Several interactions were educational. In a few cases, well-meaning transit center users simply had a question or two, such as,'Where's the smoking area?'
Misdemeanors such as jaywalking, spitting and cussing will result in a ticket.
Individuals who partake in the following activities at the transit center may be expelled for up to one year (lesser offenses may result in a one-week ban from the area):
* Camping, loitering, swearing, spitting, jaywalking and engaging in unruly activity
* Riding a bicycle, rollerblading or riding a skateboard within the boundaries of the Transit Center
* Possessing an open alcohol container; consumption or sale of alcohol; sale, use or possession of illegal drugs
* Brandishing or using a firearm
* Committing a sexual act
* Using a public address system or other sound amplifying devices within the Transit Center
* Engaging in gambling activity
* Committing a theft that may be punished as a Class A or Class B felony
* Causing damage, including graffiti, to any park property