Officials from the Seattle Police Department made an appearance at the East District Council Monday night as a first step towards insuring that “citizens have a voice through the police department.” East Precinct commander Cpt. Ron Wilson, Lt. Matt Allen and Sgt. Casey Sundin met with the council on Monday to answer questions and address community concerns on everything from panhandling to recent club violence.
Earlier in the day, SPD Chief John Diaz announced he was stepping down from his post to retire from the force.
“It’s my hope to continue to reach out and hold meetings where we can discuss issues that are of a concern to everyone,” Wilson said.
Club violence was a hot topic at the meeting, citing recent episodes at The Social and what speakers said was continued trouble at clubs along Pike and Pine as a top community priority. Community members were especially concerned about the frequency of brawls outside of The Woods and Grim’s on 11th Ave.
“It’s a complex issue,” Allen said, referencing the liquor licenses, noise ordinances and various other factors involved in dealing with clubs. “My advice is to continue to call 911.”
Agressive panhandling from the mentally ill was also a chief concern for community members at the meeting, who claimed they had seen a recent sharp upturn on Capitol Hill. SPD noted that many of those on the street panhandling or dealing with mental illness don’t need to be locked up in Federal prisons, and referenced the new Mobile Crisis Unit that debuted last year to serve as a middle ground solution. Rather than putting the mentally ill in jail, the new crisis unit can be dispatched to take those in need to proper mental health service centers where treatment can be administered.
“Often times, look, the person doesn’t need a jail cell, what they need is to get reconnected with mental health facilities and physicians,” Allen said.
Campers in Cal Anderson was one issue that wasn’t raised Monday night that often comes up at community crime meetings on Capitol Hill. That might be because this spring thus far, the park has remained remarkably free of people sleeping in its confines — especially in the area around the wading pool that seems to be favored by campers. CHS followed up with Wilson to ask about a possible change in approach by SPD to patrolling the park. “[W]e have been conducting routine patrols within the park and ensuring closure times are met,” Wilson wrote in response to our inquiry. “Additionally we are working closely with the Park Rangers and will continue doing so as we move into the summer.”
No word, however, on where people who normally stay in the park are being directed.
Monday night, Wilson also described the new “Predictive Policing” system that SPD is trying out, which will attempt to dispatch more officer patrols to areas where certain crimes like residential and commercial burglaries, car thefts and car prowls have been trending higher. “What that’s trying to help us do is identify areas where under each shift, crimes of that nature are more likely to occur,” Wilson said, “and when we have the resources, to send more patrols to these areas.”
Additionally, Wilson announced a new feature on the SPD website called “The Captain’s Log” which will feature monthly updates from captains (including Wilson) on happenings in their precincts.
UPDATE: Wilson’s first “Captain’s Log” is below.
Hello and welcome to the Captain’s Log for the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct. I am Captain Ron Wilson, and I have the pleasure of being your East Precinct Commander. The Captain’s Log is a new concept within the police department that will provide each Precinct Commander an opportunity to address a variety of issues ranging from; public safety, community concerns, crime trends, community partnership programs, public interest items, arrests of suspects, citizen recognition of officers, just to name a few of the issues you can expect to see.
The East Precinct currently has 126 sworn and civilian personnel assigned to it that continue to impress me every single day. I am proud to be a part of such a dedicated group of men and women that work diligently, day-after-day, to provide for the safety and welfare of our communities.
As many of you may recall we kicked off our Safe Communities Initiative on November 8, 2012. The Safe Communities Initiative is in partnership with the Mayor’s Office, Seattle Police Department and the Department’s Community Outreach Initiative (#19) under the 20/20 Plan. This Initiative helped the police department connect with a new group of community members and work together to address concerns in their neighborhoods. Over the course of the next four months we held 18 meetings in a continuation to gather community concerns.
As a result of those meetings, on Saturday, March 30th, we held our Safe Communities Initiative “Summit,” where we discussed and reviewed the communities’ top priorities..
Speaking of the Safe Communities Initiative, as part of the initiative, the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) is working on the 23rd Avenue Action Plan. The purpose of this project is to establish a city-community collaboration that creates a shared vision and action plan to improve the health and equity of three Central Area community cores: 23rd Avenue & E. Union Street, 23rd Avenue & E. Cherry Street and 23rd Avenue & S. Jackson Street.
It is my belief that by embracing and bringing together both East Precinct Safe Communities Delegates/members and the 23rd Avenue Action Plan, this precinct will help to establish trust and collaboration with our residents that will allow us to empower our community and build lasting partnerships.
As we move forward, the East Precinct will hold periodic meetings with all interested delegates and community members to continue open dialogue and discussions for improving public safety, communications and trust.
On Saturday, April 13th, DPD’s 23rd Avenue Action Plan will hold a Community Workshop and Resource Fair at Garfield Community Center. The East Precinct will bring officers from the Safe Communities cadre to participate and act as facilitators in round table discussions. Two Community Outreach Officers will be staffing a resource booth for attendees.
Another new East Precinct community partnership project is the Group Health Walk and Talk, which begins April, 23, 2013. This program is the result of Rosemary Agostini M.D.’s Tomorrow Medical Leadership and Innovative Grant from Group Health Foundation. I’ll discuss in greater detail in my next report.
As of February here are some of the crime trends we are seeing in the East Precinct – major crimes were down 11% from January. However, we have seen a rise in robberies and aggravated assaults, up by +52% and +13% compared with last year. Property Crimes fell by -25% in larceny/theft, and -30% in vehicle thefts, while burglaries were up +42%. The good news is that the major crimes total in February for East Precinct was the second lowest total for the month in six years.
I would now like to share with you the names of some of your officers that have been recognized by citizens and visitors to the East Precinct for their outstanding police work and efforts. I will also highlight one commendation each month: Officer D. Auderer, assisting a stranded motorist; Officer J. Britt and Officer D. Pelich, professional, informative, interested and courteous during a theft investigation; Officer R. Campbell, courteous and professional at an accident scene and hospital visit; Officer V. Flick, for her calm, collected manner in defusing a situation involving belligerent and intoxicated individuals; Officer C. Williams and D. Raguso, commended for their professionalism and pleasant demeanor involving a weapons call; Officer V. Flick and Officer S. DelaFuente, for their quick response and handling of a serious incident; A/Sgt. C. Kelley, for his years of dedicated service to the East Precinct community while assigned to the Community Police Team (CPT); Officer C. Whitlatch and Detective Mel Britt, for their investigation and arrest of the suspect involved in computer thefts from Seattle University Campus.
The East Precinct also received this wonderful note from the Crisis Solutions Center:
“I am the Program Manager for the Crisis Solutions Center at 1600 S. Lane St. I wanted to pass along to you how much the Crisis Diversion Facility staff and clients sincerely appreciate three of your Officers, Officer J. Britt, Officer B. Schoenberg and Officer R. Campbell. We have had the pleasure of working closely with these Officers numerous times and the compassion and professionalism they bring is to be commended. The overall experience in working with SPD East has been terrific and we very much appreciate the hard work your Officers do on a daily basis, especially on behalf of our most vulnerable clients.”
Thank you for taking the time to read up on the current issues within the East Precinct. Next month I will discuss, Social Outreach Seattle (SOS), Walk and Talk, Highlight CPT, trends and public safety. I will also spot light one of our officers each month with a photo and short biography.
Until next month take care.
East Precinct Captain Ron Wilson