While the gunplay on the streets of the East Precinct has apparently become a large enough issue to justify ATF surveillance cams in the Central District, Seattle Police appear to have another summer crime initiative more firmly in hand.
Reports of robberies and pickpockets on Capitol Hill are down 34% through July compared to the same period last year.
SPD’s federal boost, by the way, is probably also at play here. In April, newly returned to the East Precinct commander Capt. Paul McDonagh and city officials briefed a group of Pike/Pine business representatives on plans for renewed emphasis patrols in the area as concerns of a return of summer street violence was flaring up. A representative from the mayor’s office told the group about a new “drug market initiative” effort set for a downtown emphasis area and said the area around Cal Anderson was planned as one of the next area’s for SPD to tackle after it makes progress at 3rd and Pine. Five years ago, we were reporting on the so-called “open air DMI” emphasis at 23rd and Union in the Central District. The Seattle Times reported on the start of the emphasis push in downtown in late April.
2014’s robbery statistics for Capitol Hill included a massive summer surge in June, July, and August that constituted 40% of the year’s totals. SPD eventually made arrests in some of the cases including a 17-year-old detectives said was one of the main perpetrators of the crime wave before being nailed for carjacking in Los Angeles.
One factor to consider in the Capitol Hill statistics is the discretion available to police in categorizing crimes based on factors including whether victims were associated with each other before the crime. One recent Capitol Hill phone robbery that CHS is aware of was entered in the reports as a theft, a category that also includes less serious levels of ripping off items like stealing a light from a bike. However, including theft statistics, the story remains mostly the same for the East Precinct beats covering Capitol Hill with totals down 46.7% overall through July compared to the same period in 2014. July 2015’s 56 thefts, though, were the highest total reported since 2014’s crime surge. Whether the uptick is a product of enforcement or categorization remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, lock up your stuff — burglary around the Hill is on the rise.