West Seattle parents cautious about Halloween after flashing incidents

SEATTLE -- Halloween felt especially scary for some families in West Seattle, where there have been multiple incidents of indecent exposure by men near schools since early September.

Kids in West Seattle had candy on their minds Thursday evening. They might not have cared who was passing out the treats, but parents were cautious. Many say the holiday is not like it was when they were kids.

“When I was a kid, I just went. I’d come back at some point with a case full of candy,” said Lawrence Banker. “Now we all do it together, maybe that’s parenting in this day and age.”

Dawndra Budd said she never considering let her nephew approach strangers on his own.

“No, especially not with what's happened this year,” she said. “There are a lot of things I don’t even want to talk about.”

Since the beginning of the school year, there have been at least seven cases of flashing or indecent exposure in and around schools in West Seattle. Many parents took that into consideration when deciding where to take their kids trick-or-treating.

The businesses in the Admiral District seemed like a safe option for Rachel Manion and her two kids.

“It’s nice to do it earlier, when it's not so dark,” she said. “Especially when you have little ones, because it gets too late."

Businesses in the Admiral District have been handing out candy for several years. This year, they say, the crowds seemed bigger.

“It’s nice to see so many families coming out, moms and dads together with the kids,” said Molly Cousins of Wiseman’s Appliances. “I think in other years, we did see more children on their own. But now the parents are around, and that's a good thing.”

Banker still wanted his kids to have the neighborhood trick-or-treating experience, even though one of the flashing incidents happened nearby.

“Those things happen, it’s a horrible thing,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s endemic to this neighborhood.”

He did make a point of going a little bit earlier, and staying in familiar areas.

“This is Tom, that’s Don,” he said, as he pointed out the houses they were going to visit. “We know people just around. But even the folks we don’t know, generally, are fine. It’s a pretty tight-knit neighborhood.”

Seattle police arrested one man for alleged lewd conduct last week, but the misdemeanor charge was dropped.  And, police said, they weren't sure he was a suspect in other incidents.

So they have stepped up patrols at schools and parks in West Seattle, and they say they will continue those patrols until they’re sure the culprit or culprits are caught.