A revival of the Q-Patrol is not the answer. A Capitol Hill-based group with hopes of citywide influence next week is holding a rally and march to push back on what they see as a rise in crime in the neighborhood and a growing sense that streets like Broadway, Pike and Pine are unsafe at night.
The event will also be the start of a new “Safe Space” program to create a strong foundation for a Capitol Hill-wide “block watch” program by turning first to the area’s business community.
“We’ve decided we will start with local businesses first,” Social Outreach Seattle founder and executive director Shaun Knittel tells CHS. “Business block watches have proven successful and produced a drop in crime.”
The CAPITOL HILL ANTI-CRIME/VIOLENCE MARCH & RALLY will also feature the launch of our neighborhood business watch program, BLOCK WATCH. DATE: May 22
TIME: 6 – 8:45 p.m.
LOCATION: Seattle Central Community College (1701 Broadway)
• 6 – 6:45 P.M. GATHER AND START RALLY AT SCCC
• 6:46 – 8 P.M. MARCH (E on Pine, R on 12th Ave marching S, R on E Union St. marching W, R on Minor Ave. marching N, R on Pine marching E, L on Melrose marching N, R on E Olive Way marching NE, L on Summit marching N, R on E Roy St marching E, R on Broadway marching S.)
• 8 – 8:30 p.m. END RALLY AT SCCC
***March route subject to change.
At the rally, Knittel hopes Capitol Hill businesses and organizations will join the Block Watch program, registering at no cost to get a safety packet prepared by the Seattle Police Department, opportunities for ongoing training and assistance — and the colorful sticker to display.
“We’d like to see maximum involvement in this,” Knittel said. “We have to show criminals that our neighborhood belongs to us and not crime.”
The rally and launch of the program comes as part of an ongoing effort from the new group to address concerns about street crime on Capitol Hill — especially among the LGBT community. Knittel said his group had been working with police for the past few months on a new program but the situation accelerated when one of Social Outreach’s own reported being robbed in a brazen daylight attack as onlookers failed to intervene. This stabbing in Cal Anderson came as the rally was already in motion. Meanwhile, CHS crime reports continue to provide anecdotal examples of the types of violence and street crimes that people in the area are dealing with. The most recent East Precinct crime statistics agree — we’ve seen a bump in crime around Capitol Hill. Even as Seattle’s overall crime continues to plummet, the timing, it seems for finding solutions in the neighborhood couldn’t be better.
Knittel said that SPD has turned out to be a big help in getting the program started.
“We told SPD we would march in the street,” Knittel said of early conversations that weren’t moving fast enough. “We got into serious conversations about what could be done. We went in there with demands but SPD has worked with us amazingly.”
The plan includes helping business owners and their staff know what to do to deescalate situations and to encourage an “eyes on the street” culture in the business community. If it’s successful, Knittel would like to see the effort spawn watches among residents in a similar spirit.
Knittel also said SPD and other officials advised against any kind of revival of a group like the old Q-Patrol — one possible approach that has been brought up on the Hill from time to time as crime waves peak. “We’re not going to organize a Q-Patrol,” Knittel said. “Police and other leaders don’t want a Q-Patrol. It’s a rise in violent crime.” Having groups like the volunteer public safety enforcers on the street would possibly just add to the problem, officials fear.
Knittel said the safety push also goes beyond the queer community — and beyond Capitol Hill.
“This has nothing to do with being LGBTQ specific — this is not about making Capitol Hill crime free first. This is not a race,” he said.
“If this begins to work. We’re prepared to go into every neighborhood in Seattle.”
You can learn more and contact Social Outreach Seattle at socialoutreachseattle.com.