Following CHS’s report on a spate of gun violence in the Central District. a Seattle Police official said Thursday night the department is making progress quelling the uptick in shootings and has made arrests in connection with some of the recent incidents.
At Seattle University on Thursday, the monthly East Precinct Advisory Council (EastPAC) meeting was attended by a standing-room only crowd as anxious community members hoped to hear about SPD’s plans to stunt the recent spate of shootings in the Central District.
SPD Deputy Chief Marc Garth-Green announced that three arrests have been made in connection with the recent shootings.
Garth-Green, who was promoted just hours before the meeting from his position as chief of the investigations bureau, noted that it is difficult for police to arrest suspects for shootings due to a lack of evidence. Because of this, SPD often apprehends suspects on firearm or narcotics charges, instead, as is the case with at least one of these arrests.
“I don’t necessarily have to stop that person and arrest that person for shooting,” Garth-Green, who was accompanied by three other members of the Seattle PD, said. “I have to stop and arrest them for something, so they can’t shoot anymore.”
Thursday, just hours before the community meeting, SPD made a series of arrests involving traffic stops — one at 23rd and Jackson and another at 23rd and Union. At least one of the stops involved a stolen vehicle. No weapons were recovered in the stops, according to East Precinct radio dispatches.
CHS reported on seven separate incidents involving gunfire in a three-day period earlier this month. On Wednesday, August 15, two people were shot in an apparent road rage assault at 22nd and Pine.
Garth-Green attributed the uptick in violence in the neighborhood to a resurgence in tensions between gangs in the Central District and South Seattle. Specifically, he mentioned the Union Street Gang and the Low Profile — LP — gang as the chief culprits.
SPD has a dedicated gang unit that deals solely with this type of crime and is comprised of more than a dozen members, including Sergeant Andrew Zwaschka who was at the meeting.
Those from the department expressed their willingness to work with community members to find a solution to the growing issue of gun violence in the east precinct.
“We’ll try everything to be anybody, anywhere to get information to slow this stuff down and stop this stuff,” Garth-Green said.
Central District residents in attendance asked the representatives from SPD to tell them what they can do to try to curb crime in the neighborhood.
“Neighbors, you know, we see it first,” EastPAC interim chair Stephanie Tschida said.
Garth-Green had a simple answer for them: “One of the biggest things is just calling 911.”
One woman in the audience suggested taking a survey of residents and seeing who has cameras on their doors which can be used as crucial video evidence in an investigation.
“We want new proactive measures to be put in place,” the woman said. “That’s my frustration right now.”
The main thing that the Seattle Police Department is trying to do now is to get more officers on the beat to deter violence from taking place in the neighborhood, representatives said Thursday. For example, due to higher rates of altercations in parks, certain officers are being put on “park patrol” to peruse the areas and reduce the risk of escalation.
“The only thing that’s going to solve your problem today is for me to put more officers there and we’re doing that currently,” Garth-Green said.
Zwaschka remains optimistic that SPD, and specifically his team, can find answers to these recent crimes and those to come in the future.
“All the cases that you guys are seeing and mentioning tonight, they are being investigated,” he said. “This is what I’ll say, the gang detectives, they’re very good, very good. We don’t solve them all, but I like our chances.”
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