SPD asking people to put their phones down at Seafair Torchlight Parade

by: Joanna Small Updated:

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SEATTLE - Seattle police are asking people to put their phones down at this Saturday's Seafair Torchlight Parade.

The Seattle Police said it's worried that tweets and Instagrams could delay the 911 system on Saturday, maybe even cause it to crash.  Their request is unusual, and many would say unrealistic.
  
"Just watch the parade.  You can tweet about it later, you can post it on Facebook, post all your pictures on Flickr,” Patrick Michaud with the Seattle Police Department told us. 

Text messaging doesn’t eat up as much data but SPD is asking you to curb almost everything else you do on your phone, even though officers admit, the 911 system has never failed for that reason.
 
"It has never gone completely down We’ve been very lucky where some agencies have lost their 911,” Michaud said.
 
He said there have been problems getting through to 911 though during past Torchlight parades and other big events like the Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory parade.  We checked -- about 140 people call 911 in the city every Saturday night.
 
There is a partial solution.  Wireless companies like AT&T, Verizon and Sprint have satellite trucks that look just like the ones our news station operates.  They can park them at a major event and create a mobile hotspot.  Sprint says we really don't need it, though. A spokesperson said historically. Torchlight hasn't needed additional network capacity.  But the hydroplane races have and Sprint already has that in place.
 
Still some plan to heed SPD's warning.
 
"Everyone needs to be safe around here.  There's people getting shot at, getting hurt; you need to have a safe line secure,” Lisa Sawyer said.
 
Others plan to keep talking.
 
"Would you stop doing it if they asked you not to?" we asked Chris Ballard, also downtown.
 
"Probably not,” he said.