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Mayor Harrell to ‘lay out public safety strategies’ for Seattle amid business crime concerns, continued wave of gun violence — UPDATE: ‘Hot spots’

(Image: SPD)

Just over a month into the job, Mayor Bruce Harrell is scheduled to appear at a press conference Friday morning where he will “lay out public safety strategies” for the city amid ongoing concerns about public safety and property crime.

UPDATE 11:30 AM: In the morning session, Harrell said he wants to balance a stronger response to public safety with efforts to provide help and services while the city’s police force is taking a “hot spot” approach to tamping down crime concerns in the city but declined to identify specific locations at this point.

“If you want to know, just read the blogs,” Harrell said, adding he doesn’t “want to start naming intersections or naming areas.”

One focus area has been 12th and Jackson where Harrell and SPD Chief Adrian Diaz said increased policing effort has also included community response and references to social services and diversion programs — in addition to arrests.

Harrell said the approach has included consulting with defense lawyers about determining how to approach the “hot spots” and focusing on policing that will best address the crisis. Harrell said that means focusing on specific areas and often on specific individuals.

“We want to make valid, lawful arrests when appropriate. We want to get people treatment, when appropriate,” Harrell said.

Chief Diaz and Harrell repeated calls for more officers saying the administration “inherited a depleted and demoralized police department” and is down to policing levels not seen since the 1990s.

Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell also spoke, saying the administration’s focus has included “inventorying” the resources City Hall has available and “right sizing how we direct people in our system” while Deputy Mayor Tiffany Washington emphasized that the administration sees its solutions for homelessness and public safety as “not one in same.”

UPDATE x2: Councilmember Lisa Herbold, chair of the council’s public safety committee, said Friday she applauded the mayor’s “multilayered approach” to crime. “With fewer sworn officers, we need comprehensive approaches that blend both traditional public safety and innovative community safety approaches,” Herbold said. The committee head reiterated that the council has funded the Seattle Police Department’s plan to hire 125 additional police officers and expand the Community Service Officer Program while also expanding the LEAD program and also providing funding for training 911 dispatchers “to integrate alternatives into 911 response.”

Original report: The media event follows a week of interviews and appearances by the city’s new mayor in response to criticism his administration is not acting quickly enough to live up to pledges to address concerns around street crime, crimes against businesses, and public safety. Media reports have also focused on encampments and homelessness in the city’s core neighborhoods.

“I understand these are intolerable conditions that they’re being asked to operate their businesses in,” Harrell said in a TV news interview this week.

Friday’s media conference will also include interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz and Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins “to provide an update on the state of public safety in the City of Seattle.”

Harrell won the office on promises he would do more to address crime concerns while also leading efforts to change policing in Seattle.  Harrell, who grew up in the Central District and is of Black and Asian descent, served as the chair of the committee on public safety during his time on the Seattle City Council. He has said he would push for a “reimagining” of SPD that would eradicate bad officers from the force and change who is responding in cases where armed police aren’t necessary.

Harrell also said parks and streets should be cleared of encampments with increased outreach effort from workers to provide shelter and services.

On Capitol Hill, a continuing wave of business crimes include an ongoing surge in burglaries that appears to be fueled by the pandemic conditions. There were about three reported burglaries per day in 2019 at homes and businesses across the East Precinct. Late in 2021, the number rose closer to five — and will likely climb higher when December and January’s totals come in. With many businesses temporarily shuttered, reduced hours of operation, and fewer people out and about on the street in 2020, reported East Precinct burglaries leapt 61% and maintained a similar rate as 2021 began before dropping and tumbling — briefly — back to pre-pandemic levels when things opened up more fully during the summer. The latest data available from the city show totals through November when COVID cases again began to climb along with business staffing issues.

CHS looked at 2021 crime totals for the Capitol Hill area here. According to SPD’s statistics, reported property crimes remained steady across the East Precinct in 2021. Total reported property crime here has remained stable since 2015 — but increased around 34% since 2010 when measured against the area’s population increase.

Garnering less media attention is a continued surge in gun violence across Seattle and King County that has shootings at a ten-year high in the city. According to an annual report from the King County Prosecutor’s office, while shots fired incidents recorded were up about 26%, 88 people died in shootings across the county in 2021, a 64% increase over recent averages. The shootings and deaths disproportionately impact people of color and particularly young Black men, the prosecutor’s office said.

The violence has been particularly painful in the Central District, Harrell’s home turf. CHS reported here on Michael Darden, the 36-year-old shot and killed last month in his 24th and Union apartment after an argument involving the mother of Darden’s son and her current boyfriend turned violent.

2021 also ended with gun violence around 23rd and Union with a man shot in the chest being rushed to Harborview from the intersection on New Year’s Eve.

The gun violence and safety issues have bled onto the CD’s Garfield High School campus where a shootout and gun incidents have brought calls to do more to ensure student safety and to find stronger community-based options to help address the issues behind the violence.

Harrell, meanwhile, must also weigh how much to focus his strategies on the Seattle Police Department as distrust over the department has only increased after continued deadly police shootings with little or no consequences and further revelations like the Proud Boy radio ruse from CHOP.

 

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Born in the CD
Born in the CD
7 months ago

“Businesses before people” that’s Bruce Harrell folks! I am already ready for another election.

Glenn
Glenn
7 months ago
Reply to  Born in the CD

Spoken like someone who has never owned a business.

d4l3d
d4l3d
7 months ago
Reply to  Glenn

Two generations in retail and former ad exec. formerly Chicago. I’m with B in the CD. Top down accomplishes nothing.

Below Broadway
Below Broadway
7 months ago
Reply to  Born in the CD

Local businesses before criminals. What we want and voted for. Sorry anarchists. Your Revolution is a failure.

Capitol Hill Resident
Capitol Hill Resident
7 months ago
Reply to  Born in the CD

You know that people work in and at businesses, right?

Kevin
Kevin
7 months ago
Reply to  Born in the CD

Are you hired by someone with an I’ll intention or political agenda just to troll here?

Harrell identified 3 main priorities: gun crimes, organized theft and open-air drug sales.

Just what kind of “good people” among the 3 you think we should not lock up?

HTS3
HTS3
7 months ago
Reply to  Born in the CD

Hmmm. Just a thought, but from my perspective, businesses kind of are people. They are owned by people, often individuals and families. They employee people. And they serve the needs of people. It seems like creating an environment for businesses to succeed—and literally stay in business, is a foundational part of our communities.

Born in the CD
Born in the CD
7 months ago
Reply to  HTS3

I think money should be spent helping people and the homeless community over some business that failed.

You have no idea
You have no idea
7 months ago
Reply to  Born in the CD

Do you even know what Seattle spends on the homeless and what effects this has had? We went from spending $50 million in 2015 to a planned $156 million in 2022, yet the problem is only getting worse. Spending is not the issue.

And you also clearly have no idea what people who work in these businesses are experiencing as a result of these unsupervised encampments that are popping up near our offices. We had to hire extra security in my building because what used to be a safe neighborhood suddenly turned into a nightmare for us. They literally shot out a window where an employee sits. Several people have reported being followed into the building and threatened, and in one case, an employee was physically assaulted by a camper on the way into the building. We found a guy sleeping in one of our conference rooms. I also know a business owner who closed up her shop because she had been robbed at gunpoint five times! These are the actions you’re defending when you shrug your shoulders about people being upset.

Jim
Jim
7 months ago

Mayor Harrell is asking small businesses to be patient. Isn’t 2 years patient enough?

HTS3
HTS3
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim

And how long has he been on the job? Gee Whiz. It took years to get us into this situation. Might take some time to get us out.

Jim
Jim
7 months ago
Reply to  HTS3

So are you saying Harrell was unaware of the issues that were facing Seattle prior to the election? All he had to do was watch the local news or just walk downtown. Over 370 business have left Seattle. Our you saying he was unaware?

HTS3
HTS3
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim

No Jim, I’m not saying that. I’m saying that change takes time. Knowing that there’s a problem, yet not being in a position to do anything about it was the mayor’s position before he became mayor. In the matter of a few weeks that he has been mayor, he’s proposing changes. Changing the direction of the city isn’t available at a drive-up window.

Moving Soon
Moving Soon
7 months ago

I sure wish the people that complain about Seattle would move so regular people could then afford to stay.

This would make way more sense than rich people pricing everyone out to live in a city they just complain about constantly.

Jeremiah
Jeremiah
7 months ago
Reply to  Moving Soon

You’re still here. You’ve been “moving soon” for years.

Guesty
Guesty
7 months ago
Reply to  Moving Soon

Come on man, don’t pretend crime and a general free for all on the streets (tents, needles, massive shoplifting) isn’t a problem.

d4l3d
d4l3d
7 months ago
Reply to  Moving Soon

Yep. I see irrational growth while leaving the poor behind as the core issue.

Kevin
Kevin
7 months ago
Reply to  d4l3d

Yes… Detroit and Cleveland (where there isn’t much growth let alone irrational growth) must be heaven on Earth with no crimes and no gangs at all.

While in some other poor third world countries, poor people should just stab each other to death because of their poverty.

Such is your logic.

Buzzin’
Buzzin’
7 months ago
Reply to  d4l3d

Ummmmm. Let’s see . . . Minimum wages at an all time high, eviction moratorium still in place, hazard pay for various workers, millions and millions more spent on homelessness, affordable housing projects popping up all over the Central District with an added eye of helping minority business people start their dreams at the retail level of those housing units, and a 6 month requirements on rent increases coupled with free legal representation for any landlord disputes. I’m not sure I’d say the poor are being “left behind”.

Nochop
Nochop
7 months ago

Is there a more worthless council member than Herbold? She runs on a message that includes more cops, gets elected, steps to the forefront with all the other communist/ACAB/defund idiot council members, proposes a NTK style bill to decriminalize all crime for poor people, and now is applauding increased policing.

For as terrible as all of sawants ideas are at least she has a core of beliefs (that those beliefs are basically we should turn the county into 1980s Russia where we all beg party members of a corrupt government for hand outs is a whole other issue).

At this point Districts 4 and 5 should probably just succeed from Seattle and become south shoreline or south lake forest park since we are the only ones capable of electing council members with brains.

Not yet but soon
Not yet but soon
7 months ago

Just wait till downtown Target closes.