Dan Hall starts his morning route in downtown at 7:00 a.m. rousing sleeping individuals from storefronts and doorways so that it’s business as usual by the time shopkeepers arrive to hang out their shingle.
A twenty-year veteran of the Downtown Security Ambassadors, Hall oversees the team of men and women whose job it is to serve as the eyes and ears of downtown safety. Ambassadors can be seen throughout downtown six days a week between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. A typical day for an Ambassador includes everything from jumping a car battery, advising visitors on proper use of Lime Scooters, offering restaurant recommendations, to assisting downtown Police Officers with trespassing or arrests.
Over the last few years, Ambassadors have transitioned from a mostly responsive team to proactively engaging in the safety and security of downtown. As Ambassadors have taken a larger role in policing, they have added tools to their toolkit in order to provide the maximum amount of service available to members of the downtown Business Improvement District (BID) for their residents, workers and customers. One such tool is the certification of team members as Limited Commission Officers, which allows them the authority through the Spokane Police Department to detain, cite and arrest people for a predefined set of crimes and municipal infractions, which vary but generally include only misdemeanors.
While a morning wake up call usually occurs without incident, Hall’s number one priority is making sure that his team is prepared for any number of interactions. That’s why in early May, Ambassadors began sporting stab vests, which provide additional protection should an interaction turn violent.
The decision to purchase the vests was considered in late 2018 and approved by the Board of the Downtown Spokane Partnership (DSP), who are contracted by the City of Spokane to manage the BID. The DSP’s mission is to advocate for policies that create a vibrant downtown, of which safety is a top priority. According to Hall the decision was not made lightly, citing concerns that the vests might inaccurately portray an image of downtown as unsafe. Ultimately, it was decided to error on the side of caution. “My preference is for the team to have the vest, and not need it, as opposed to not have the vest and need it.”
Most violent interactions that happen in the downtown area are the result of personal conflict. “When an incident happens,” says Hall ” it’s usually because two or more people who know each other are having an issue.” Hall states that the recognize-ability of his team and nature of their work put them at greater risk of potentially being inserted into a dangerous situation. “Ambassadors are often the first individuals to arrive at an altercation. We don’t always know what we’re walking into, but it’s our job to make sure that the public feels safe. We can be better at our job when we know our personal safety is taken care of.”
Worn over bright blue polo shirts, the vests help the Ambassadors stand out from the typical pedestrian in downtown. “We’re actually more visible to the average downtown visitor now,” says Hall.
To reach an Ambassador during service hours call the Security Ambassador hotline at 509.353.9111.