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Amid Seattle’s big issues around policing, community meeting digs through the nitty gritty of 2020 crime in the East Precinct

Beneath the “defund” push to redirect Seattle Police spending to social and community programs and the political maneuverings around removing the wall outside the East Precinct and reopening Cal Anderson Park, the nitty gritty of neighborhood crime concerns was at the forefront Thursday night for the monthly meeting of the East Precinct Advisory Council.

Property crime is on the rise in the East Precinct, SPD leadership told community members Thursday evening, with car theft, arson, and burglary up compared to 2019.

SPD crime prevention coordinator Joe Elenbaas joined the East Precinct Advisory Council to outline ways to prevent mail and car theft. Recommendations included signing up for the United States Postal Service’s Informed Delivery program, which lets recipients know what mail they’ll be receiving so they can pick it up quickly, anti-theft devices in cars, and hiding electronics that might indicate there are expensive items in the vehicle.

Elenbaas said that they are hearing of increased package theft from East Precinct residents but that victims are apparently not bothering to report the crimes.

The community meeting highlighted several areas of concern from SPD including arson, vehicle thefts, and property crime at Seattle University and businesses.

There were 15 arson offenses in the East Precinct area, which includes the area stretching from Montlake to I-90 on the east side of I-5, last year. In the first 11 months of this year, SPD has counted 34 cases of arsons. One person died this week in a fire in a vacant building on 21st and Denny.

There were also 466 motor vehicle thefts last year; 564 so far this year. Burglary is up to 1,528 cases from 1,168 in 2019.

The only type of property crime that has decreased this year is personal property theft, or larceny, down to 2,585 reports from nearly 3,400 last year.

CHS’s report on summer crime trends showed overall crime down as the pandemic had radically shifted people’s behaviors and activities but the core, most serious crimes up 12% in a surge that began in January well before the pandemic and protests set in.

Focusing on the most serious crimes that SPD uses for its statistical analysis like assaults, burglaries, and vehicle related crimes, CHS showed crime was down 4% through August in 2020. In June during the height of CHOP, crime — including everything from animal cruelty to street robberies — dropped 14% from recent years across the precinct.

Bur burglaries were still surging, especially in the Pike/Pine area.

Since the summer, SPD says property crimes have only gotten worse.

Capitol Hill’s Seattle University has seen increased property crime, the school’s assistant director of operations Nikki Maryanski said Thursday night. Maryanski noted, for example, more feces in garage stairwells and a broken window at the law school in late November on the same night demonstrators targeted a nearby Starbucks.

The Safeway grocery store on 15th and John has also seen several spates of crime, with, for instance, shoplifting turning into more serious robbery, police said.

Victoria Beach, chair of the African American Community Advisory Council, said that her neighborhood has seen “nonstop” car damage for years.

But there are bigger worries.

Homicides have seen a big jump in 2020 according to East Precinct Capt. Eric Sano. SPD reports nine murders here so far in 2020. There were five East Precinct homicides in all of 2019 and three the year before. That trend has carried across the city where SPD says there have been 41 homicides in 2020 — up from 28 last year.

Gun related crimes have also climbed.

“Very, very troubling for all of us,” he said.

Sano also noted that interim police chief Adrian Diaz has recently been going over a report on bias and hate crimes in Seattle that will be released soon. Experts from the King County Prosecutor’s Office said this week that hate crime reports are up this year in the county during the coronavirus pandemic, from 30 in 2018 and 38 in 2019 to 51 so far this year.

Sano expressed hopes that the East Precinct building and nearby Cal Anderson Park could be officially reopened soon, but it remains difficult to remove homeless encampments in the Capitol Hill park during the coronavirus pandemic. Mayor Jenny Durkan has said efforts at Cal Anderson would focus outreach, not sweeps but it remains to be seen how the city’s new homelessness resources will be brought to bear at the park.

“We are trying to get back to a semblance of normalcy,” Sano said. “We can go in and continue to clean up these parks, but unless we give these people an alternative, a viable alternative to go to, they’re just going to come back into the park.”


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Monik
Monik
5 months ago

> “We can go in and continue to clean up these parks, but unless we give these people an alternative, a viable alternative to go to, they’re just going to come back into the park.”

Is this not what libraries and swim centers are for?

The Ghostt Of Capitol Hill
The Ghostt Of Capitol Hill
5 months ago

This year has been very rough. The conversation happening in the article above is a good conversation to have. However, the police obviously have nothing to offer this conversation.

“We can go in and continue to clean up these parks, but unless we give these people an alternative, a viable alternative to go to, they’re just going to come back into the park.”

Obviously; We will find ourselves one day in a world where the park is back to normal. And the crime has subsided. And the police will have had nothing to do with either of those things either decreasing or increasing.

We are inviting the wrong organization into this conversation. Obviously.

Saying “The police don’t keep us safe” isn’t some threat to the police. It’s a truth that each of us as members of this society need to understand in order to have a better conversation.

Travis
Travis
5 months ago

You and your minion will keep us safe. Got it. No hiding your arrogance or your true objectives.

Bob
Bob
5 months ago

Blueberries, ghostt. Just remember the blueberry story :)

CD Neighbor
CD Neighbor
5 months ago

Speak for yourself – I haven’t had to call 911 too many times in the 25+ years I’ve lived in my house, but I was more than happy to see the police show up when a drugged up guy was trying to bash in my next door neighbors front door with a deck chair because they let his girlfriend that he was chasing in order to give her a beatdown into their home… the police came and stopped him without anyone getting hurt – the only damage was done by the guy to himself when he cut his hand on the glass from the small window in their door.

Things like this certainly don’t happen everyday – not all that often really, but there’ve been a few other times and yes I’ve always felt that I was much safer for having someone to call.

Sash
Sash
5 months ago

The argument that police don’t keep us safe is comical; law makers make laws, courts administer them, police physically enforce them, and we remove people from society who break them so they can’t do it again. They’re part of a system, and it’s effective to remove bad actors.

So if the argument is how do you prevent them from committing their first crime and recidivism? Then you’d have to look at the system, not one component in it. Sheesh…

Bob
Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  Sash

Agreed! Well said.

The Ghostt Of Capitol Hill
The Ghostt Of Capitol Hill
5 months ago
Reply to  Sash

We have police right now, correct? And have had them for a very long time, right? Are we safe? Are the police keeping us safe? There are police literally 1 block away from Cal Anderson park. Are they keeping it safe? When people have been getting stabbed and murdered and shot in that park for all 11 years I’ve lived on Capitol Hill… There were police… it doesn’t sound like they’re keeping anything safe to me! In fact, every time you hear about a crime, ask yourself “Did the police keep that person safe? Did the police stop that crime?”. There’s been a number of incidents around the city even in the past few days come to think of it.. How did those things happen I thought we had police? Huh..

Dan
Dan
5 months ago

A classic moment, you conflate “what should be” in your utopia, for what is in real life. Obviously police can’t be everywhere the second a crime is about to be committed, but compare society with police to one without, and you will quickly learn how much safer we are with police than without. Critical thinking level toddler.

CD Neighbor
CD Neighbor
5 months ago

You appear to be expecting Minority Report…. no the police cannot precog crimes….. they have to react to what is actually happening and yes, that means not every single crime can be prevented, but you can’t possibly even know what has or has not been prevented. How many broken up fights/domestics may have turned into homicides? How many people attempting to run into traffic may have succeeded? How many burglaries/robberies/rapes etc. would people serving their time would have committed had they never been in jail?

Not to mention the others here who talk about it being a system are absolutely right – the police can arrest people, but if the courts simply lets them back out, yeah nothing has been prevented, but you can’t blame the officers. Could the murder of Lisa Vach and the suicide of Travis Berge been prevented? There’s no guarantee, but surely a better attempt could have been made… he was contacted by police more than 100 times, arrested at least 47 times, had at least 35 felony convictions, yet he was able to refuse mental health and drug treatment and his longest incarceration was less than a year… It certainly does’t sound like the police failed this person…. it sounds like they spent an inordinate amount of time dealing with him and the courts/public will failed him and the woman he killed.

Eric
Eric
5 months ago

It’s difficult in life when data refutes the reality you desire. Just ask Donald Trump! But the data are there, and if we all work from the data, that, I would argue is the “truth that each of us as members of this society need to understand in order to have a better conversation.”

https://www.princeton.edu/~smello/papers/cops.pdf