Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle Police Department announced this week a May-long “Pre-Summer Emphasis Program” to “to improve public safety and address community maintenance needs” to reduce crime concerns in seven neighborhoods across the city. Areas around Capitol Hill and the Central District were not included.
“We have a responsibility to promote the vitality and safety of our neighborhoods and communities. We will continue to advance livability and public safety through data-driven, proactive strategies and listening to community,” Mayor Durkan said in a statement. “We are taking additional immediate steps to not just make communities safer, but to partner with communities on ways we can make neighborhoods cleaner and more vibrant. I will continue to work closely with Chief Best and other members of my cabinet to monitor the impact of these new resources. I am grateful to the community members for their input, and to our SPD officers and other City employees who are helping address these community priorities.”
According to the announcement, SPD has begun focusing on seven areas “based on community input and data analysis” — downtown, 3rd Ave around Pike and Pine, SoDo, South Park, Georgetown, Pioneer Square, Fremont, and Ballard.
“This will not reduce regular SPD and City of Seattle operations, including police patrols and criminal investigations throughout Seattle; regular operations and criminal investigations will continue,” officials wrote.
Seattle City Council member Lorena González, chair of the council’s safe communities committee, is questioning the new program and asking for more information including details of how the areas were selected.
The Seattle Times reports Durkan citing “upticks in property crime and concerns raised by small-business owners as reasons to concentrate on some areas.” “The data tells you one thing but then you go and walk the neighborhood and talk to people,” Durkan told the Times.
Last year, CHS reported on community crime surveying performed by Seattle University on behalf of SPD that revealed how areas like Ballard with lower levels of actual violent incidents reported higher levels of fear about crime while areas like Capitol Hill and the Central District were less fearful.
Capitol Hill and the CD have seen SPD emphasis efforts in the past and, sometimes, in this proactive manner. After a rise in robberies and assaults in 2013 and 2014, SPD began seasonal emphasis patrols around Pike/Pine to quell street violence. More common are efforts that come after serious incidents or strings of shootings as happened late last year in the Central District after a man was shot to death near 22nd and Union.
The new emphasis program will also include a “clean streets” initiative. In addition to the increased SPD presence, the city’s departments will form “multi-disciplinary teams” that will “engage with communities to identify and address maintenance needs, including: tree and landscape maintenance on City-owned properties; replacing streetlights; removing graffiti; improving sign and pavement markings; and removing debris from illegal dumping.”
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