Freaknight organizers switch up security plan as rave begins

SEATTLE -- A two-day Halloween party and concert known as Freaknight is expected to draw more than 20,000 people to CenturyLink Field when it kicks off Friday night.

But it's an event that has many concerned about safety -- including police. In fact, this year, the Seattle Police Department and King County Sheriff's Office are refusing to allow off duty cops to work the rave.

Police officials say last year's event was a nightmare when multiple drug overdoses, assaults and unruly crowds overwhelmed private-security workers, police and paramedics.

To make sure that doesn't happen again, CenturyLink Field security and the Seattle Police Department have changed their security strategy for the event. This year, there will be about 150 more private security personnel inside, but none from Seattle Police.

SPD says the department's off-duty officers won't be allowed to work this year's event because the presence of drugs presents a potential conflict of interest. Department policy prohibits off-duty officers from working at raves because it could possibly be in the interest of the private company hiring the officer to not report illegal activity.

Seattle Police say they'll have presence this year managing traffic outside, but did not say how many officers would be there.

"Having officers deployed in the way we are going to have them outside is going to be very helpful and should be fairly reassuring to people going to and leaving from, knowing there's going to be that many police in the area making sure people can go to the event and leave safely," said Sean Whitcomb with Seattle Police.

Police say on-duty officers will still respond to emergencies.

To reduce crowds outside, there will be two entrances this year to admit ticket-holders, who will not have in-and-out privileges.

The Seattle Fire Department will also be increasing its presence with more on-scene paramedics and EMTs this year. The event's creator also hired a safety adviser to reduce the number of medical emergencies and drug usage.