Jessica Schulte, event planning manager at Event 360, had a very positive experience partnering with the Seattle Police Department last year. We thought it was a story worth sharing, and she agreed to be our guest blogger this month.
Jess joined Event 360 in 2004, but has been planning and working events since college. Even when she’s not at work on her events, she donates her time to help local organizations plan their fundraising events. She enjoys engaging the community in all special events so that they have a sense of ownership and are invested in each event’s success.
Take it away, Jess …
As an event planner, it’s not always pleasant to reach out to jurisdictions. You’re often contacting them with requests — to close roads, to set aside sidewalks for participants and so on.
But sometimes, the jurisdiction is ready and willing to help, even before you ask. For instance, soon after taking over planning of the Susan G. Komen Seattle 3-Day for the Cure, I heard from an officer with the Seattle Police Department (SPD). Would we be interested in having the police get involved in the event in a bigger way?
Needless to say, we were interested. The SPD had more than 200 officers willing to donate their time to provide security and traffic assistance while paralleling the route on bicycle. As it turned out, we only needed about 70 officers over the three-day period.
Having the SPD sign on was a major selling point. After sharing this news with the six other jurisdictions that the route passed through, three said their bike patrol wanted to take part in a similar way. It actually became competitive!
Prior to the event, I met with SPD officers to hand out route maps and discuss how they could best support the event and the walkers. Come day one, we were all on the same page.
Logistical Support Made a Difference
The bike patrol added so much to the event — first and foremost, a real sense of energy and fun. Wherever there was a dead spot along the route, the officers would fill the gap and cheer on the walkers. And the fact that most were sporting some combination of pink sleeves, leggings, angel wings and even tutus made it truly fantastic.
The presence of the bike patrol also created a heightened sense of safety for walkers and neighbors along the route, which helped put everyone at ease.
But the biggest thing with the bike patrol was the additional logistical support. On the last day of the event, a power outage knocked out traffic lights along multiple streets on the route. The bike patrol quickly had everything under control, managing traffic and helping walkers through intersections.
A Mutually Beneficial Relationship
It’s safe to say that both the Seattle 3-Day and the SPD benefited from our partnership. Our participants had a great experience that made it more likely they’ll be back again. And the officers clearly enjoyed the personal interaction with the walkers and playing a different type of role in a public event.
Soon after the event, I received an email from the officer in charge of event details. Here’s an excerpt:
“It was truly an honor to be alongside such inspiring people walking for such an awesome cause,” she wrote. “I am still receiving emails and calls from the officers providing positive experiences and conversations they had while along the route and every one has said if we are allowed to participate next year, they want to be there!
“I truly feel the event gave us a large amount of positive press and the officers are now renewed and know we do have positive supporters out in the community and we have an ability to do good things if given the chance.”
We can’t wait to work with the SPD at this year’s 3-Day in September!
“Patrick and Sarah’s Experience Hub” blog posts are featured monthly. Directors of production projects Patrick Riley and Sarah Coniglio have many years of hands-on experience in almost every aspect of event operations and production.