Officer Javier Sola Del Vigo sees the Olympia Police Department’s reinstatement of the night walking patrol as a return to an older style of policing — a time when everyone knew their neighborhood cops because they were always out in the community.
“It’s just old-fashioned policing,” Sola Del Vigo said. “We’re out there talking to people, we’re approachable, and people are getting to know us.”
Sola Del Vigo and his counterpart, Officer Paul Frailey, started their new assignment May 6. They walk the streets of downtown Olympia from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. The program runs through the end of September.
Lt. Paul Lower said the goal of the walking patrol is to make downtown safer in summer, when police typically see an increase in disorderly activity.
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The night walking patrol isn’t a new idea. The department used to run a similar program, but it was cut when several officers retired and the force’s numbers dwindled.
But now that those officers have been replaced, the department once again has the resources to staff a night walking patrol, Lower said.
So far, the officers have been introducing themselves to business owners and establishing relationships.
“We want to learn how business owners see downtown, what it’s like to work here,” Frailey said.
He said many people are concerned about finding syringes and other drug paraphernalia in alleys behind their businesses. Some are worried about people sleeping and sometimes urinating in doorways.
The first week of patrols was relatively quiet, but the officers made their first arrest at about 2 a.m. Sunday after a man vandalized their patrol car.
“We were thinking it was a successful weekend,” Sola Del Vigo said. “We didn’t have any bar disturbances.”
Then the officers were called to a nearby parking lot, where their car was parked, after witnesses reported that a man was vandalizing their car.
“The individual just wanted to take out some aggression on one of our patrol cars,” Frailey said. “We’re not sure why.”
The man was later identified as Chaske Lindgren, 25.
Witnesses told police the suspect tore off the passenger side mirror and slammed it into the windshield, kicked the car and threw a garbage can at it.
While being detained by police, the suspect struggled with officers and kicked one of the officers in the shins and stomped on his feet, according to police.
“No one was hurt, and that was the most important part,” Sola Del Vigo said. “We know crime’s not going to completely stop just because we’re out here.”
None of this is new to the officers, who have each worked for the Olympia Police Department for more than two years. Sola Del Vigo said he’s lived in the community for about 16 years and loves spending time downtown.
“I always used to love working the downtown patrols,” Sola Del Vigo said. “So when this opened up, I thought it was perfect.”
Frailey said he was born and raised in Olympia, so he knows downtown well. The biggest adjustment: walking for about 10 hours straight.
“I just got some new boots,” Frailey said. “I was wearing my normal ones the first week, and my feet were covered in blisters. These should help.”