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:
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.