In an odd half-day conversation with participants in the social media forum Nextdoor, Seattle’s new police chief said:
* “It’s no surprise that your concerns again reflect what I’ve heard consistently from residents throughout the city. Property crime, 911 response, and homelessness are top of your lists.”
Today I’d like to take this opportunity to hear directly from you. Let me know what we’re doing right, where we can improve and what questions you have. Simply reply to this post with your questions by 3:00 PM today and I’ll try to answer as many as possible with a post by 6:00 PM this evening.
She got 311 replies. Here’s her entire response:
Thank You | Town Hall | Ask the Chief 17h ago
Chief Kathleen O’Toole from Seattle Police Department
Thank you everyone for taking the time to submit questions, concerns and feedback to SPD’s first ever Nextdoor Town Hall. I’ve heard from all corners of Seattle, from Rainier Valley, South Delridge, Belltown, Queen Anne, Bitter Lake and all points between. In the near future we’ll host a similar event on other digital platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Reddit.
I was able to read most of your replies and it’s no surprise that your concerns again reflect what I’ve heard consistently from residents throughout the city. Property crime, 911 response, and homelessness are top of your lists. While I won’t be able to respond to each of your replies directly, I’d like to let you know what we’re doing to tackle these issues of concern.
Mary Beth from Mount Baker, Marty M. from Ballard and Julie S. of Jackson Place, like many of you in the Town Hall, expressed concerns about property crime and what we plan to do about it.
Crime overall decreased by 7 percent citywide in 2015 including a 20 percent drop in crime in Southeast Seattle. Approximately 2,000 fewer cars were stolen and 1,600 fewer cars were prowled last year. But that’s no consolation if you’ve had your car prowled, house broken into or packages stolen from your doorstep as some of you shared today.
This week we established a Property Crimes Task Force to focus exclusively on these crimes. This team will use strategies similar to those that have proven effective in addressing chronic crime and drug dealing downtown and in other neighborhoods in the city. I will share the early results soon, but do know we’re working diligently to address your concerns.
911 RESPONSE + MORE OFFICERS
Thank you, Cheri H. of Broadview, Jessica H. in North Arbor Heights and Elizabeth H. of Delridge for sharing your frustrations about delayed 911 response times and the need for additional officers in your neighborhood. These are concerns that a number of you raised in your replies. Here’s how we plan to improve 911 customer service and add more officers.
As our city continues to grow, so must our police service. In order to be more visible and engaged in our community, we simply need more officers. Mayor Ed Murray has pledged to hire 200 officers incrementally by 2019. We genuinely appreciate his support.
Our delayed 911 response times are completely unacceptable. Mayor Murray has directed me to take a hard look at our 911 response and modernize our 911 system. Calling 911 is often the first time many of you will engage with the SPD and we owe it to you to provide the best service possible. You have my commitment that we will work very hard to improve the system.
HOMELESSNESS / RV’s + ENCAMPMENTS
Don W. of Wedgewood, Jill S. in Greenlake and Brendan in Ballard, like most of you want to know what we’re doing to handle homelessness and illegally parked recreational vehicles. Last fall, Mayor Murray declared a State of Emergency in response to the homeless crisis impacting our region.
The city is working in partnership with the King County Executive and the State on a multidisciplinary strategy to address this complicated issue. The SPD will continue to work collaboratively to get services to those in need. Being homeless is not a crime. At the same time, we will absolutely hold those engaged in criminal activity accountable. We will continue to keep you informed of our enforcement efforts.
Again sincere thanks for taking the time to participate in our Town Hall. Your feedback and suggestions are valuable and appreciated. We hope to continue to the conversation in your precincts going forward. This format is a work in progress and I appreciate your patience as we expand our digital outreach.