Seattle police ready for championship parade

SEATTLE -- Police say they are ready for Wednesday's championship parade.

The Seattle Police Department says everyone will be working, responding to 911 calls, keeping traffic moving and making sure the celebration is safe.

In 1979, hundreds of thousands of fans packed the streets of downtown Seattle to celebrate the Sonics' NBA championship. On Wednesday, the celebration is expected to be even bigger.

“In 1979, we had a great turnout, but we have more people in the area now,” says Paul McDonagh, the assistant chief of Homeland Security and Operations for Seattle Police. “Plus, I think with the 12s, it’s more regional. You can’t just think of the city, you have to think of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, the whole Northwest.”

So Seattle police are calling on their friends from around the Northwest to help with security. It was the only way they could make sure crowds would be safe, with only a few days to plan.

“We’ve actually pushed our regional partners quite a bit,” says McDonagh. “And they’ve stepped up.”

“Our Metro guys will be all over bus and transit areas,” said Sgt. Cindi West of the King County Sheriff’s Office. “We’ll be providing a number of deputies at CenturyLink Field to help provide security, basically monitoring the crowd.”

There were big crowds in the streets after Sunday’s game, and there were a few incidents with fire and vandalism. Police are not expecting that Wednesday.

“This is a family event,” says McDonagh. “But if something like that were to happen, we’re prepared for it.”

Mayor Ed Murray is hoping the focus will be on the team. He says they displayed sportsmanship and respect throughout the season and fans should display that Wednesday, too.

“This is an opportunity for us to salute athletes, and I think we should salute them in the spirit with which they played these games.”

The mayor did not know exactly how many officers or city employees would be working extra shifts Wednesday. But he said the team has agreed to pick up those costs, so they don’t have to worry about the budget while keeping everyone safe.