A month of ramped-up of police activity to stamp out Capitol Hill robberies and assaults seems to be making an impact, or at least that was the consensus among Seattle Police top brass, including Chief Kathleen O’Toole, and a group of Capitol Hill business owners who met inside the East Precinct on Friday afternoon.
East Precinct Captain Pierre Davis said there has been a 42% decrease in street robberies over the past month as he’s doubled the weekend police presence in Pike/Pine. On Friday and Saturday nights Davis said he is now deploying up to 30 officers around the Pike/Pine area. The push required the support of the chief and Mayor Ed Murray to divert limited resources to patrolling Capitol Hill’s nightlife activity, Davis said.
“Not everyone gets this,” Davis told CHS. ” We may have to look at making this permanent. That will take resources.”
In the last month police said they have made significant progress in identifying at least two groups who may have been among the most active in a recent spate of street crime. Four teenagers in one of those groups were arrested in Los Angeles last week while driving a vehicle connected to a recent Capitol Hill carjacking. O’Toole said SPD detectives travelled to Los Angeles and are currently working to connect the group to several other Capitol Hill crimes.
“We know who’s who in our zoo,” Davis said.
Working closely with community leaders, Davis said detectives have also started to single out young East African men known to be involved with criminal activity. Habtamu Abdi, an East African community liaison with the mayor’s office, said he was working with religious leaders and community elders to expose bad apples.
“We know who these kids are, we’re talking to their families,” he said. “These kids do not represent the community at all. We do not protect them.”
Davis said investigators have also begun to identify stores around the city that could be purchasing phones stolen in recent robberies.
Assault reports this August nearly doubled in the East Precinct compared to last year while reports of other types of crime have remained relatively stable. The impact of this year’s emphasis patrols can be debated as the overall August to September drop in robberies in pickpocket reports isn’t much different than the totals in 2013. The drop in reported assaults in the area, however, does appear to be notable. Meanwhile, the reported burglary trend across Capitol Hill actually appears to have worsened month to month. CHS’s source for statistics is the data.seattle.gov SPD dispatch reports which include any reported incident regardless of the investigation’s outcome.
Jason Lajeunesse — an owner of The Lost Lake Cafe, The Comet, and Neumos — joined other Capitol Hill business leaders in commending the SPD for the noticeable increase in officers over the last month.
SPD officials said nightlife owners had been helpful in identifying problem individuals, but bar owners also had to do their part to curtail excessive drinking. Davis said he was “alarmed” and “appalled” at the level of over-intoxication he saw while walking through Pike/Pine last weekend.
Lajeunesse said he was working with other nightlife establishments to address the issue. He also said he is working with a small group of neighborhood business owners to roll out a public awareness campaign about intolerance in the neighborhood, which would likely include window decals for participating businesses. CHS reported on SPD’s latest report on bias crimes on Capitol Hill and across the city here.
Some business owners voiced concerns about drivers falsely posing as taxis and car-share services. One driver, known to police and some nightlife owners, apparently drives around with the sign “Awesome Ride Share.” Earlier this month, SPD warned of an E Pike taxi cab ruse used to rob a group of revelers.
Police officials said people on the street have also noticed the uptick in police activity. Davis said a few of his officers have been “cat called” about the number of cops out and about, but that the response from the public has been overwhelmingly positive.
The meeting came as a follow-up to a contentious meeting last month where Capitol Hill businesses owners demanded police do more to curtail street violence in the neighborhood. Davis said the positive collaboration over the last month between the mayor’s office, police, local businesses, and community members has been encouraging.
“Everyone is in lockstep,” Davis said. “It’s not usually like this.”