Everett approves agreement for security services to improve safety downtown

Everett City Council recently approved agreements with Snohomish County Human Services to fund contracts for security services. The goal of the $187,500 investment is to increase safety in downtown Everett.

Behind his barber chair at Prime Fades, manager Kyle Wells has a front window view of what is happening in downtown Everett.

"I’ve seen over the last few years, it’s definitely gotten a lot worse, it’s gone downhill," said Wells. "Businesses in the area have been vandalized, like our door. We just, about three weeks ago, had a rock thrown through it. That was the second time it happened to us in a week and a half. And four other businesses on this block have had their windows broken out in the last month."

Recognizing the need for increased security downtown, city council members voted during their Aug. 30 meeting to fund a contract for security services. Financial summary documents show Snohomish County’s American Rescue Plan Act funds will pay for the increased security services.

The documents state, "The City of Everett shall utilize the funding to contract for enhanced security services in the downtown Everett area. Areas of focus will include businesses and residential areas that have been negatively impacted by the supplemental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Increased patrols will be emphasized around emergency and cold weather shelters within the downtown Everett area that have additional security needs."

"I think security would be a great idea for us," said Wells. "Ideally, we would be able to stop crimes before they happen, stop vandalism before [it] happen[s], or at least we can hold people accountable, because we don’t even know who’s doing it. We just come to work on the morning and there’s glass all over the ground."

The financial summary said the funds will provide $178,125 for professional services for a contract security provider and $9,375 for City of Everett administration of the funds. The funds are set to expire on June 30, 2024.

The extra eyes and ears downtown comes at a time when police agencies across Washington, like Everett Police Department, are dealing with staffing shortages. Before the council’s vote, Mayor Cassie Franklin mentioned her 2024 budget proposal during the budget committee meeting. She said the budget proposal will ask the council to approve a request for nine new officer positions at the department.

"As you all talked with our residents, that’s what we hear over and over again, is their top priorities is what are we doing in public safety and what are we doing to address the incredible needs in our community," said Franklin.

The mayor will be presenting the 2024 budget proposal later in September.

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For now, the federal dollars available for the hired security guards would support six months worth of services. Wells said the investment is a step in a safer direction for downtown.

"We need something. We need somebody to patrol downtown," said Wells. "Small businesses are definitely struggling. They’re moving out. There’s a couple businesses on this block alone that are leaving at the end of their lease within the next year or so. And if it keeps going at this rate, then I don’t see us probably staying past our lease either."