East Precinct brass to meet with Capitol Hill neighbors over safety concerns — UPDATE: Diaz out

UPDATE: Some big changes at SPD are in the offing. Seattle Police Chief John Diaz will leave his post:

Diaz, who, who has more than 30 years with the Seattle Police Department, became the interim chief on May 7, 2009, and was sworn into office as the permanent police chief by Mayor Mike McGinn on August 16, 2010. “The most important thing that I bring to the table is I want to do the best for this city and the best for this Police Department,” he said in 2010.

Wilson (Image: CHS)

Wilson (Image: CHS)

Original Report: Statistically, the trends for the East Precinct don’t look good. Things aren’t looking so great anecdotally, either. Early Sunday morning, two men reportedly walked into the 15th Ave E QFC with a handgun and robbed the grocery market before disappearing into the night. Concerns about the numbers and some recent violent incidents will be on the table Monday night as the East District Council hosts a community discussion with East Precinct commander Capt. Ron Wilson:

The East District Council is an umbrella organization that brings together the  First Hill, Yesler Terrace, Capitol Hill, Montlake and Madison Park neighborhoods to discuss and act on topics of shared interest.

Neighbors had public safety concerns, we asked for a Police Officer to our next meeting, and we got three: the captain, Lieutenant and a Community Police Team Sergeant.

Please join us at 5:45 PM on Monday April 8th in the upstairs meeting room in the Capitol Hill library, and share your observations and concerns with the Police Department.

Andrew Taylor
Chair, East District Council

Earlier this year, CHS on troubling crime trends around Capitol Hill:

Based on 11 months of data from SPD and a projection for December’s totals, crime on the streets around Capitol Hill’s dense core above and below Broadway appears to have leapt significantly in the past year fueled by a rise in assaults and a remarkable leap in reported burglaries.

More on our 2012 preliminary analysis here

More on our 2012 preliminary analysis here

Meanwhile, recent incidents also have raised concerns including this brutal March beating that nearly cost a man his eye or the murky details around this February assault reportedly involving a man seriously injured in a fight with panhandlers. Nearby, violence in the Central District turned deadly last week as a 19-year-old man was gunned down in what is believed to be a gang-related attack.

Capt. Wilson began his command of the East Precinct last summer as five crime “hot spots” were identified for increased patrols and presence by police. This year, his East Precinct is part of SPD’s new trial of predictive policing software that will eventually be deployed across Seattle to pinpoint area’s for patrol increases. Already a common dispatch heard on SPD radio chatter in the precinct is an officer returning to “predictive patrol.”

In addition to the challenges on the statistical front, Wilson also must manage changes from the Department of Justice-mandated “20/20″ program to curb excessive use of force by Seattle Police. The precinct is also preparing for a possible return of protesters on May Day 2013 and dealing with charges from the City Attorney’s office against the cop involved in this East Precinct melee last year.

If you can’t make Monday’s meeting, you can provide feedback for the East Precinct or ask questions of community liaison Fran Tello at francisco.tello@seattle.gov.

Here are some tools to help you better understand the crime happening in your neighborhood:

UPDATE — Here are ways to connect with City Hall:

City Council Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology
Chair: Bruce Harrell
Vice-Chair: Mike O’Brien
Member: Nick Licata
Alternate: Sally Bagshaw

Mayor’s Office: Citizen response page

22 thoughts on “East Precinct brass to meet with Capitol Hill neighbors over safety concerns — UPDATE: Diaz out

  1. There is no umbrella large enough to cover the concerns of the CD, Cap Hill, and Madison Park.

    Bad things occasionally happen on the Hill, like the QFC holdup. Murder attempts are routine in the CD, like the shooting you describe here and the multiple retaliations which have happened this weekend. I guess Mad Park is whining about parking again?

    In any case, this meeting is a waste of time. A bunch of people will plead their cases and SPD will conclude that everything east of Broadway averages out to a mildly interesting crime zone.

    What would help this meeting transcend the parking-whingers? A dose of perspective. Whether you live on Cap Hill or in Mad Park, there are people a mile from you who can’t walk home alone without risking terrible consequences, especially if they are women. If you care about your neighborhoods, please advocate for the safety of your neighbors. Things are getting pretty bad out here.

    • Not endorsing all of your points but your comment was a good reminder to add contact information for City Hall officials dealing with crime. Added above.

  2. I think I’d feel safer getting a briefing from a bunch of criminals than our corrupt Seattle Police Department. If you ask me they are a bigger problem than a bunch of petty thieves.

    • Agreed, 100% and then some. If the SPD can’t even adequately prevent the violent attacks that take place directly across the street from the front doors of the East Precinct in that well-lit portion of Cal Anderson Park, I don’t know what hope we have for the rest of the Hill. Let them talk all they want to. I carry pepper spray.

  3. After living on the Hill for the last 15 years, I would rather put my safety in the hands of SPD than weaponized civilians.

    The NRA would tell the civilians to arm themselves to protect themselves from the cops and other civilians. I’m so glad the Anarchists, Hippies, and the NRA have something in common.

    • What?! So, after 15 years on Capitol Hill, you believe that you live around nothing more than “anarchists and hippies?” Oh, please.

      • Caphilllifer,

        No, but they do tend to take their grievances with the SPD out of the courts, out of city hall, and out of the other citizens’ hands and take it to the streets with disruption, violence, and destruction of property.

        So, if they’d rather I arm myself to protect against myself from them, rather than trust people whose goals are to uphold the law, they’ve turned a neighbor into an enemy.

        Capitol Hill is full of wonderful people – artists, families, tech wizzes, and the like, but it also is home to people who want nothing more than to tear down what else everyone has contributed to and build. If people would get to know their local police departments, local city workers, local business owners, then maybe we could move toward progress, but no, people are complacent enough to let the anarchists lead the conversation.

        yes. “Oh, please”. Aren’t YOU tired of it?

    • The SPD is nothing but a group of racist thugs. I don’t want to have a conversation with them or the anarchists, as it would mean that I believe they deserve some sort of credit or are worthy of my time.

      The SPD is not going to protect you from the anarchists, they stood idly by last year while the anarchists destroyed a number of storefronts. Phoenix Jones did more to help protect us than any Seattle officer did. It was a disgrace.

      Fact is, that I feel less safe when I see a cop car on the hill. They are rogue and you have no idea what to expect from them.

      • Iluvcaphill,

        So are you telling people to resort to Vigilantism? That’s your solution – people should be Batman?

        To say that SPD is nothing but a group of racist thugs, is as accurate as the line, “Capitol Hill is just a bunch of hippies”.

        Your judgment lacks nuance or depth and is as shallow as Republicans calling all Democrats “socialists”. There are definitely police officers in the Seattle Police Department that would lay down their lives to protect the rights and safety of civilians.

        If you live in fear of the Police Department, that’s your own fear and blindness projected.

      • Iluvcaphill’s comment about “racist thugs” is the most ridiculous and inaccurate generalization I have ever heard.

        • Sorry, but it’s the truth. Pretty much evidenced by the fact that they are under a consent decree after the DOJ pretty much said they were a racist organization who violates the civil rights of the city’s citizens.

          How does a cop say “I’ll kick the mexican piss out you” and keep his job? That man still works for the department. Seriously? One can only assume that the entire leadership endorses this cops racist views. And yes, he is a racist. It’s a fact.

          Just like it’s a fact that Officer Burke murdered Mr. Williams in cold blood because he was native american. Anyone who had anything to do with hiring Officer Burke should have been fired immediately. Since they weren’t one can only assume that the leadership supported Officer Burke’s racist and murderous behavior.

  4. WOW! I just read the update regarding the resignation of Diaz. I suppose that this was expected by others but it nonetheless surprised me. Interesting.

  5. My friend’s husband is a cop who works outside the city. We had an interesting discussion about what’s going on in SPD these days.

    A couple years ago, there was a small number of bad cops on the street causing almost all of the problems. Seattle residents demanded that the bad officers were removed, and is seems that actually happened.

    Unfortunately, the pendulum has now swung too far the other direction, and the problems of incompetent administrators and poor leadership remain. Even though the “few bad apples” identified in that big study have been removed, the supervisors continued to come down like a ton of bricks on any cop if they received a citizen complaint, regardless of the cop’s record or the circumstances of the event.

    This has had a chilling effect on police effectiveness. The cops on the street are very reluctant to engage, even when they know they have the right person, because even an unfounded complaint can cause them a lot of grief.

    Maybe 5-10 years ago, the cops used to take jobs in the suburbs or with county in hopes of transferring in to Seattle when something opened up. Apparently, things are now going in the other direction and there aren’t many cops who want to work for SPD.

    We agreed that the best solution we can hope for is that the public insists that the “no bad cops allowed” policy continue, but also demands “no bad supervisors” so that the increasing crime problems can be addressed.

    It would be a huge help if we found a new chief who is driven by a desire to have effective policing rather than his politic ambitions.

    • * to clarify: I don’t mean to imply Diaz was driven by political ambitions–he may or may not have been–I don’t know much about him. I haven’t heard otherwise, so I’m assuming he was making a good faith effort. I was talking about whoever replaces him.

    • Interesting perspective, Jonathan; thanks. I rather wondered if the resignation of Diaz had anything to do with McGinn’s re-election campaign in light of the Dept. of Justice investigation, etc. Unusual timing, is all.

      • Diaz was just the wrong man for the job and has caused so much harm to the department in the last three years. And, by the way, none of those cops, not the one who told the kid he was going to kick the mexican piss out of him, or the cop who punched the 17 year old j-walker, were fired. They should have been.

        I think we need an elected board who supervises the cops and has the ability to fire any cop immediately who does not meet community standards. The people who hire these cops should lose their jobs as well. Especially the person who hired cop that murdered the wood carver in cold blood.

        I come from a family of law enforcement, and let’s just get real. Nobody gets into that job for any altruistic reasons. It’s nothing but a money and power grab. That is the only thing that motivates people to become a cop. Period.

        • “I come from a family of law enforcement, and let’s just get real. Nobody gets into that job for any altruistic reasons. It’s nothing but a money and power grab. ”

          Sounds like somebody has some personal family issues projecting on to their position on SPD.

        • The cold-blooded murder of John T. Williams (not to minimize the woman who was punched in the face and the Hispanic man who was stomped on) was the single-most unforgivable and unforgettable incident ANY police officer ANYWHERE could possibly have committed. I, for one, have little to no trust in the SPD because of it. The death of that man is something that had better not ever, EVER occur in this city again.

          • NRA and caphilllifer would say, John Williams should’ve had a gun himself. He’d have been able to fight back and things would all be better.

        • Well there’s obviously a kernel of truth to the power thing (maybe not so much with the money) but it’s pretty cynical to paint all police with that brush.

          Growing up in NY, I spend a lot of time around a homicide detective and he absolutely hated exercising his power. He even carried around a .22 pistol so that if he had to use it, there was less chance he’d kill the guy.

          Over the last 18 years in Seattle, I’ve interacted with two or three cops who were belligerent asswipes, a couple who were clearly phoning it in, and about a dozen who were super polite and obviously trying hard to be effective.

          • It’s similar to other public service workers like teachers… the job changes you if you’re not strong enough internally.