SPD increases efforts to put ‘shooters in handcuffs’ after East Precinct gun violence

Seattle Police commanders say they’re taking a laser focused approach to identifying and arresting suspects of violent crime in the wake of an uptick of shootings in the city, several of which have occurred in the East Precinct.

Chief Kathleen O’Toole highlighted the department’s recent strategies to tackle gang violence with “predictive analysis” at a briefing Tuesday. The cornerstone of the increased effort is a daily meeting at the department’s Real Time Crime Center, where officials discuss every violent crime that occurred over the past 24 hours.

In the meetings which began last month, O’Toole said information on suspects vehicles and known gang affiliations is widely distributed and specific officers are tasked with making arrests. SPD also began holding a weekly violent crime meeting with regional and federal law enforcement agencies.

“Shooters in handcuffs, that’s our top priority,” O’Toole said. The effort recently led to the recovery of a stolen vehicle connected to the August 13th killing of 24-year-old Antonio Jones at 26th and Columbia. Continue reading

Garfield choir teacher fired for drinking alcohol during class trip to New Orleans

A popular Garfield High School choir teacher has been fired after she admitted to drinking alcohol during a March school trip to New Orleans. Seattle Public Schools broke the news about Carol Burton’s termination with a Friday night press release last week.

The superintendent found that numerous district policies, protocols and field trip guidelines were violated. Such violations included the consumption of alcohol by staff, allowing chaperones to consume alcohol, allowing boys and girls inside each other’s hotel rooms, ignoring curfew, and no random room checks conducted after curfew.

The firing comes after SPS hired a private investigator, a former U.S. Attorney, to look into claims that multiple school policies were violated during the trip.

The field trip has been marred in controversy since allegations emerged earlier this summer that one male student groped two female students in a hotel room. A chaperone was also alleged to have “engaged in inappropriate contact” with a student.

SPS declined to give media interviews about the firing which caused a backlash among some students and parents who say Burton was a scapegoat for SPS. Burton told KOMO, “I had 2½ alcoholic beverages on this trip and they are, without a doubt, the most expensive drinks I’ve ever had in my life.”

The New Orleans incident joins follows controversy over another Garfield school trip after the investigation of a sexual assault in 2012.

UPDATE: This article has been updated with a more clear description of the previous controversy related to a Garfield school trip. We have also removed reporting on schools-related budget issues from the post.


Design review: First Central Station’s out-of-the-blue six-story block, Capitol Hill Lofts on Boylston

First Central Station's future central courtyard (Image: First Central Station)

First Central Station’s future central courtyard (Image: First Central Station)

Two projects emblematic of the current waves of development in the neighborhoods where each is planned come before the East Design Review Board Wednesday night: adjacent Yesler Terrace, a plan for not one but three six-story apartment buildings — on Capitol Hill just off E Denny Way, an eight-story apartment building replacing the old two-story building that has run its course after being home to Boylston Ave tenants for 95 years.Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 9.44.08 AM

1203 E Spruce St
Design Review Early Design Guidance application proposing three, 6-story buildings containing 400 residential units, 16,000 sq. ft. of commercial space at ground level and parking for 270 vehicles to be provided below grade. Existing structures to be demolished. Project includes contract rezone / View Design Proposal  (22 MB)    

Review Meeting: August 12, 2015 8:00 pm, Seattle University, 824 12th Ave, Admissions & Alumni Community Building
Review Phase: EDG–Early Design Guidance
Project Number: 3018576  View Permit Status  |  View Land Use Notice
Planner: Holly Godard

The developers behind First Central Station are planning to create a six-story block of mixed-use apartments out of the blue on the edge of the wave of redevelopment cresting over the Yesler Terrace neighborhood. Continue reading

Federal agents confirm they quietly installed surveillance cameras along 23rd Ave in the CD


One of the ATF cameras installed along 23rd Ave. (Photo: CHS)

Last month, a wave of Central District shootings prompted some community activists to call for police surveillance cameras to help keep the peace. While the Seattle Police Department and Mayor Ed Murray said they were studying the issue, federal agents quietly moved ahead.

Last Thursday, the U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms confirmed it was the agency behind two cameras installed high-up on light poles at 23rd and Union and 23rd and Jackson.

ATF spokesperson Brian Bennet emailed the following statement to CHS:

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has placed video cameras in Seattle locations to support an ongoing federal criminal investigation. These cameras belong to our agency. They weren’t requested by nor are they monitored by the Seattle Police Department.

As our investigation is ongoing, we have no further comment on this subject.

ATF’s surveillance activities are part of the work it carries out as head agency of the Puget Sound Regional Crime Gun Task Force. Bennet did not divulge any further details on how the cameras were being used, only that recordings were being downloaded to a hard drive and not actively being monitored.

In a July community meeting, 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. Speaking before ATF representatives, Murray and SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole were both apparently unaware of the agency’s camera plan at the time.

During that meeting, Reverend Harriet Walden said her Mothers for Police Accountability should be counted among the city’s community groups calling for the new cameras. “We want convictions,” she said. Continue reading

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.


With Central District pride, MLK’s crosswalks painted red, black, and green

The colors of the rainbow flag celebrating diversity and LGBTQ communities are proudly represented on crosswalks throughout Pike/Pine — and more rainbow crosswalks are coming to Capitol Hill.

In the Central District, CHS found another flag being represented on the street along MLK Jr. Way.

Crosswalks near Powell Barnett Park and at the intersection of MLK and Cherry near the coming soon Fat’s Fried Chicken and Waffles and King’s Deli have been painted in the red, black, and green colors of the Pan-African flag. The area is part of neighborhoods that some — including City Council candidate and activist Omari Tahir-Garrett — have advocated should be part of a unified Africatown cultural and business district

The Seattle Department of Transportation said it is considering painted crosswalks across the city — but hasn’t acted yet. “Painted crosswalks in other neighborhoods is an idea we are exploring,” an SDOT spokesperson tells CHS. “We haven’t yet developed a plan or a process for this.”

Somebody in the Central District clearly has.

UPDATE 2:00 PM: The Seattle Globalist has more details about the crosswalks — and points to a statement from the The United Hood Movement issued via their Facebook page over thew weekend:

“On behalf of United Hood Movement It was our pleasure to be one of the group’s to help paint the sidewalks ‪#‎RBG for the Umojafest Parade.”

UHM has also posted our report on the project with a rebuke for City Hall:

Why you lying ‪#‎SDOT‬ you wasn’t considering with nothing until the people acted. We had to act. As you usual. You left us no choice. We will continue to act on the thing’s that we know our community deserves. With – or without you.You know what we learned from you? ”

“You either get down or lay down.”

We agree.


Five residents displaced after two-alarm apartment fire near 27th/Cherry

Seattle firefighters battled roaring flames and sweltering temperatures to put out a two-alarm apartment fire near 27th and Cherry Thursday evening.

SFD responded to 540 27th Ave at 4:40 PM, where flames had engulfed the front of the building. No injuries were reported, but SFD said five people will be displaced from the blaze. 

The fire was accidentally caused by improperly discarded smoking materials on the building’s front porch, according to SFD. 

Crews managed to rescue three cats and a dog from the building and treated the pets for smoke inhalation. Misting fans were brought out to cool off firefighters working in 92+ degree temperatures.


#fire #nobueno


A video posted by David Knirk (@senorfrijoles) on

Hack the CD hopes to help shape the ‘New Economy’ for Seattle’s Africatown

34de56e0-6153-4875-9785-c36ef0b7c342A “Cultural Innovation Conference” focused on Seattle’s Central District and Africatown returns to 17th Ave S’s Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute this weekend.

Hack the CD invites entrepreneurs and creators new and established to come together to collaborate on ideas, projects… and a party:

The 2015 Hack the CD Cultural Innovation Conference is a three day, all ages event held in Seattle’s Africatown – Central District, that convenes the brightest minds to participate in the New Economy through design, entrepreneurship, and technology.

Do you own your own business or thought about starting one? We’re calling all all artists, authors, chefs, developers, designers, hustlers, and tastemakers to an entrepreneurial jam session!

In one weekend, learn marketing and branding secrets from the pros, tips for new technology tools, and automation of your workflow to free up your time. Come with a new startup business idea or an existing venture.

  • 7pm – Friday, July 24th Network, Pitch Ideas, Form Teams, Begin Work

  • 10am – Saturday, July 25th Continue Work, Meet Coaches, Attend Workshops

  • 9am – Sunday, July 26th Finish Work, Present, After Party

Geekwire covered the first Hack the CD event held last fall.

For more information on attending, sharing experiences from your established Central District-area business, or volunteering, check out hackthecd.org.

Upzone the Central District: 23rd Ave Action Plan calls for 65 feet at Union, 85 at Jackson

It’s not exactly a preview of what is coming when the Seattle City Council’s select committee on affordable housing meets for the first time on Monday to begin the road to implementing the mayor’s HALA plan. But the plan to upzone three key areas along 23rd Ave and require the inclusion of affordable housing in the Central District fits right into the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda puzzle but with almost none of the buzz.

Monday is the deadline for public comment on the Department of Planning and Development’s approval of the early environmental review phase for three proposed upzones in the city’s 23rd Avenue Action Plan:

  • 23rd and Union: Increase height limits from 40 to 65 feet in the immediate blocks around 23rd and Union. Increase height limits from 30 to 65 feet on the block of Union between 21st and 22nd. Increase limit from 30 to 40 feet between 20th and 21st. InfoScreen Shot 2015-07-17 at 9.59.13 AM Continue reading

‘Take back the neighborhood’ — Officials plan response to Central District gun violence — UPDATE

A wave of shootings and street crime will bring city and police officials to the Central District’s Powell Barnett Park Thursday night for a community meeting to “take back the neighborhood” and “stop the violence.”

Mayor Ed Murray and SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole are expected to attend the gathering planned for 6 PM in the south end of the park along Alder.

UPDATE: The mayor and chief will also be part of a media conference “to address gun violence” Thursday morning at 14th Ave’s First AME Church:

Mayor Murray, Chief O’Toole, and faith leaders from across Seattle come together this morning to speak to gun violence, its impacts and the community’s response.

UPDATE 12:00 PM: Thursday’s media conference inside the First AME Church at 14th and Pine began and ended with a prayer in a session that brought together black leaders from Seattle’s spiritual and business communities with city officials.

IMG_6106“If you can’t get it right in Martin Luther King County, you not gonna get it right in any place in the nation,” activist and community leader Charlie James said.

Mayor Murray and Chief O’Toole said police will only be part of the solution.

“Policing is part of the answer,” Murray said. “Better policing is part of the answer.”

“But that’s not going to be good enough.”

But there is apparently more to do on the policing side. 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. Continue reading