SPD investigating another round of East Precinct shooting incidents — UPDATE: ATF cams in the Central District

This City Light pole is home to an ATF surveillance cam (Image: CHS)

This City Light pole is home to an ATF surveillance cam (Image: CHS)

East Precinct cops continue to have their hands full collecting shell casings from the streets of the Central District and Capitol Hill.

Police collected evidence at two Central District shooting scenes Wednesday — fortunately, there were no reports of injuries in either incident. In the first, SPD units flooded the area around 24th and E Olive St around 1:20 PM following a report that people were shooting at each other and that vehicles had fled the scene.

Wednesday night around 10 PM, police also found shell casings but not victims in a shootout near Garfield High School.

A similar gunfire incident played out on Capitol Hill Sunday morning just before 2 AM on the rooftop parking garage above the Pike/Broadway QFC as streets were full with last call crowds: Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 3.12.38 PM

Police detained three people in a vehicle believed to have been at the scene but all were released.

The shooting incidents follow a spate of gunfire in the area this summer — some of it deadly. The early June murder of a man on the street near 24th and Spring remains unsolved. There have been more — most with no reported injuries. Unlike Wednesday afternoon’s shootout, many go unreported by SPD’s Twitter feed.

Chief Kathleen O’Toole said in July that the FBI and ATF have partnered with SPD in a new partnership with the federal agencies. O’Toole said the Puget Sound Regional Crime Gun Taskforce –- a partnership between Seattle Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Washington State Patrol crime lab — is improving Seattle’s ability to analyze crime scenes. O’Toole said that ATF technicians were able to connect 10 recent shootings in Seattle to one handgun thanks to ballistics analysis.

SPD says it is also seeking to move forward with a plan to bring gunshot detection surveillance technology to the city following community calls for the technology in the wake of recent violence. Meanwhile, the City Council is moving legislation forward sponsored by ex-cop Tim Burgess to institute a $25 tax on gun sales and a 5 cent tax on each round of ammunition. The city estimates the taxes would raise up to $500,000 per year. Burgess said taxpayers paid more than $12 million in 2014 to offset unpaid medical bills for gunshot victims at Harborview. The revenue from the tax would fund a two-year gun violence prevention program.

UPDATE 5:00 PM: While SPD and Chief O’Toole have said they will pursue a transparent and public planning process for implementing new technology to track gun violence, it appears the ATF has quietly moved forward with deployment of surveillance equipment in the Central District, KIRO reports:

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms confirms to KIRO 7 it has installed two video cameras in Seattle’s Central District as part of a criminal investigation. Both cameras are on Seattle City Light poles. One is near 23rd Avenue and East Union Street, another is near 23rd Avenue and South Jackson.

An ATF spokesman told KIRO 7 the video from the cameras is stored but not monitored.

In July, Mayor Ed Murray said the city was still in the process of “looking at” deploying advanced surveillance cameras and also promised that, unlike past use of cameras in Seattle, the process to deploy the technology would be fully public.

The officials announced that SPD has begun the process to reassess the use of surveillance camera technology as an avenue to reduce street violence in Seattle.

Chief O’Toole said that community and business groups in the Central District and International District have asked for the technology.

“We are open and we are looking at it,” Murray said.

Both O’Toole and Murray were apparently unaware of the ATF camera plan at the time:

Murray and O’Toole said that SPD is approaching things differently this time with the chief looking at “national models” for how other big cities handle the technology. There is no current plan or timetable for deployment, the officials said.

 

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16 thoughts on “SPD investigating another round of East Precinct shooting incidents — UPDATE: ATF cams in the Central District

  1. Must be those darn gentrifiers again. Maybe “UnitedHoodMovement” can paint another crosswalk and get em all out of here.

  2. 24th and Olive…yikes! I live on 25th between John and Thomas, and for a few years anything north of Union has seemed very, very safe and tranquil.

  3. The courts have ruled there is no expectation of privacy on a public street. Why this group felt it important to out these cameras does not reflect legal reality. Here’s another news flash (not) the Feds have been off and on involved in trying to deal with gang violence in the CD for some time. I would agree with adding Cal Anderson Park to more action toward making it a city park again.

    • It’s reasonable to expect that someone is not using a camera to look up your skirt when you walk down a public street. Similarly, it’s reasonable to assume that someone is not using a parabolic microphone to listen in on a quiet conversation you have with someone while walking down the street, and also that our government staff are not recording the fact that you are walking down a public street at a given time.

  4. Apparently the ATF doesn’t feel transparency is best way to deal with our lead crime fighter. Why is the ATF leading ballistic analysis? I assume this is still being done at the WSP crime lab on Airport Way but shouldn’t this be driven by SPD or is ballistic analysis yet another thing SPD doesn’t do? The fact that the ATF and WSP are taking a more active role in crime scenes in Seattle is very telling about how outside agencies view the abilities of SPD. Or is it Chief O’Toole who doesn’t feel her force is competent? We need officers who live in Seattle and actually care about the communities they serve. The Night Out event I attended on Tuesday had representatives from Seattle Fire stop by to say hello but, once again, no one from SPD.

  5. I’d like to add some clarity about Shotspotter’s surveillance aspects. Their devices continuously record and the data is written over after 5 hours unless there was suspected, in which case 2 seconds before and 2 seconds after are saved.

    If this sort of tech comes to Seattle, I’d really like to see some strong legal language about how the recordings are kept and how they can be used. A statutory limitation on any use of any content not directly related to the suspected shooter, for instance.