Law and order and hotdogs

Members of the community and the Seattle Police Department enjoyed the sunshine last Saturday during a picnic at the North Precinct.

Organized by the Seattle Police Foundation, this is just one of the events planned in the Picnic at the Precinct series this summer at police headquarters in the different city neighborhoods.

The department's Bomb Squad, Harbor Patrol Diving and Rescue Unit, Mounted Horse Patrol, Traffic and SWAT teams all attended and showed off their equipment.

Police officers handed out free hot dogs and ice cream and there were several raffle prizes good for dinner, hotel stays and blue police coffee mugs.

"One of the goals is to provide an opportunity to interact with the public in a non-law enforcement way," said Seattle Police Foundation Executive Director Renee Cunningham.

Officer Garth Green of the SWAT team was on hand to answer questions about the "Peace Keeper," an armored vehicle. The "Peace Keeper" has been shot by criminals with high-powered rifles and shot guns. The thick armor has stopped the rounds each time.

"Andorra," the department's robotic device used in bomb searches was demonstrated by Officer Donna O'Neal. A robotic arm can pick up virtually any object and is guided by a video camera. The unit is operated through a fibre optic cable. The bomb squad goes on an average of 300 calls a year.

The Dive and Rescue officers were there with their equipment. Officer David Sylvester works with a "Side Scan Sonar." A torpedo like device is lowered into the water to search for bodies and is connected to a computer. It saves officers from spending too much time underwater and zeros in on what they are looking for with minimum risk to the diver.

Sylvester says working with the unit is "a kick in the pants." He has worked on a police beat, bike patrol as well as undercover and finds the Dive and Rescue Unit the most fun.

Neil Hansen a crime prevention coordinator worked a table with information on fighting crime. He was selling a yellow "club" device to lock the steering wheel of a car to keep it from being stolen.

"It works for sure. If the thief has a choice of stealing a car with a club or not, they steal the car without it," said Hansen. The clubs can be ordered through the Seattle Neighborhood Group for $20 by e-mailing kay@sngi.org or calling 323-9666.

Officer Lydee Steinberg was perched high up on her six-year-old police horse Blaze. The pair works downtown and most recently in the Green Lake area. Police horses go through training to work in areas that are very distracting, such as crowds.

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