Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Summary Of Last Month's Special Neighborhood Meeting On Crime

The Laurelhurst Community Club held a special neighborhood meeting at the Community Center, last month, regarding the escalating crimes and neighbor concerns about police response time and actions.

Here is a summary of the meeting published by the Laurelhurst Community Club in their most recent newsletter:

Police Chief Leads Engaged Discussion
Neighbors turned out in force at the December 8 LCC community meeting to hear Seattle Chief of Police Kathleen O’Toole. The standing-room crowd of more than 135 attendees listened intently and asked questions of the Chief and her team. While perceptions are that Laurelhurst is having an increase in crime, statistics for burglaries have remained consistent with previous years.
LCC appreciated that the Chief took time from her very challenging schedule to meet with our neighbors to address concerns about crime in our city, especially in the category of property thefts.
It was extremely helpful to have top-down officers Captain Emerick and Lt. Arata attend to delineate their roles in SPD, as well as Community Police Team Sergeant Dianne Newsom and Officer Kipp Strong, all explaining how the police system works. Neighbors were very complimentary of the quality and professionalism of the officers whom they have encountered, but also frustrated at the longer than acceptable response time to their 911 calls.

The SPD team discussed how it must allocate its resources to cover not only local patrols, but how they are often called upon to support the large policing requirements of the city. Seattle’s growth and visibility has put a strain on fixed resources. One way SPD stretches resources is by partnering with Seattle Children’s security services. Chris Patin from Children’s attended the meeting. During the reception, neighbors also appreciated the opportunity to talk with SPD’s Crime Prevention Representative, Elizabeth Scott.
With the recent exponential growth that has already occurred north of the Ship Canal, and with 40,000 more residents expected in 10 years, it is apparent that current staffing levels are insufficient. LCC applauds Chief O’Toole’s joint effort with the Mayor to identify and recommend hiring the right number of new officers and support staff to service Seattle’s future needs. With newer technology available to track and prosecute criminal activity, the additional man (and woman) power can make Seattle safer by its ability to implement and follow through to prosecution of perpetrators. Chief O’Toole commented that Boston, where she previously was Chief of Police, has 1,000 more police officers than Seattle.
The LCC board suggested at the meeting that Laurelhurst’s unique geography could lend itself to a pilot program perhaps to use cameras at the three major arterial egress points of the neighborhood to provide evidence of possible criminal activity. The City of Seattle has very restricted local privacy codes that must be incorporated into any camera installation and policy. Our community could offer to be a test site for such a program, especially in the context of the shortage of patrol, officers, and the positive enthusiasm to support it.
The SPD team also offered practical tips and advice for continued prevention and participation among neighbors to deter criminal activity. A Tips sheet was included in the recent mailing for the private security patrol sign-up and also is available on the LCC website. Block Watches are extremely useful as well. n

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