Capitol Hill safety and crime around Cal Anderson Park were the topics Thursday night at the park’s Shelterhouse where community members and Seattle police had an open dialogue that ranged from crime horror stories to practical ideas in solving them.
The Capitol Hill Community Council led the night with two group discussions running simultaneously; one with police officers and the other with community members.
“We intend this to be an ongoing discussion,” said Melissa Blankenship, Capitol Hill Community Council treasurer.
Concerns were raised specific to Cal Anderson, but police say things have calmed at the park after a summer spike in crime.
“Things have died down [at Cal Anderson Park]” said Officer Chris Brownlee noting that seasons are important factors in the levels of crime. Responding to another question on what can be done about dangerous people that hang out in the park Officer Brownlee said not much if they aren’t breaking the law.
One building manager thanked SPD officers for increased patrols around Nagle Place but another woman revealed seeing a serial flasher on the Hill who exposes himself to children. “I have seen it,” she declared. One of the officers in attendance promised to speak with the woman after the meeting to take down details on the matter.
Also noted during the discussion:
- Park closure times: Michaels Wells of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce said “I would love to talk to the parks department” regarding the park’s closure time of 11 PM and how this can be enforced. Officers noted this is difficult due to the park’s open layout.
- Summit Slope Park drug use: One resident called the park a “shooting gallery” in regards to intravenous drug use.
- Sleeping doorways/blocking foot traffic: Seattle Central President Paul Killpatrick asked the officers about people on properties blocking the flow of traffic and sleeping in doorways. The officers noted this was a civil matter and explained the nature of failure to appears sometimes resulting in prosecution — when a warrant is put out for not appearing in court.
Across the room Seattle City Council President Sally Clark listened intently to community members while sitting nearby was Boe Oddisey as the group switched to community discussion.
One idea raised was implementing Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) on Capitol Hill that was piloted in the Belltown neighborhood.
The program in a nutshell “cuts out the criminal-justice system and assigns participants to social workers,” according to the Seattle Times. This is done by allowing some people who have committed low-level drug or prostitution crimes to be diverted into drug programs in lieu of arrests, and “That is one community based solution that is on the table,” said Blakenship.
Videographer Chris King posted this report on the night: