The gun shots fired in our neighborhoods are like a seismograph. It tells you what is going on in our city. And right now the seismograph is spiking.
Shots fired in Seattle are now 69% higher than they were at the same time in 2013. 232 shots fired this year, compared to the 137 by this point in 2013.
And that’s not counting the 27 shots fired in a gunfight in Golden Gardens at 11:50 p.m. last Tuesday. Or the shooting on Saturday in Lake City. There have also been two homicides at Rainier Playfield. Given this background, it is no surprise that outdoor movies during these gorgeous warm summer evenings at Magnuson Park were cancelled this week after a series of muggings.
It’s not just shots fired. Right now, violent crime citywide is 11.7% higher than the five-year average for this time of year. That continues a trend, as violent crime in 2016 was 12.7% higher than 2013.
Here is what I understand is going on:
The Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative has been gutted, with significant portions defunded. This program provided case management to teens, augmented by partners in schools and community organizations.
Directed Patrols have been abandoned - which is the practice of putting officers on foot in the places that are the source of the most 911 calls.
I also see no evidence of Summer Emphasis Patrols. From 2011-13 we put officers into late night patrols in the places such as Alki, Golden Gardens, and nightlife areas to help discourage violence.
If elected here’s what I would do. In fact, I hope that the current administration doesn’t wait to take any of these actions.
Reinvigorate the Seattle Youth VIolence Prevention Initiative: That means identifying the youth most at risk and providing them with case management, wrap around services, and summer jobs. It works. Listen to Tre Owens here on why it matters. This program should cover individuals up to 24 years old.
Begin Summer Emphasis Patrols: We know where people gather late on summer nights. Let’s get officers present in those places to deter crime, and protect those trying to enjoy our parks, beaches and nightlife neighborhoods
Restart Directed Patrols: The places where crime occurs is remarkably durable over time. When not responding to 911 calls, officers should park their vehicles and interact with community members in known hot spots. To ensure sufficient officers, SPD should redirect officers from lower priority tasks until gun crimes come down.
Coordinate County-Wide: Youth violence and gang violence extends beyond city lines. I would convene a regional group to begin work on coordinated youth violence prevention efforts, as well as stronger cooperation between law enforcement agencies.
Get Guns off the Streets: Put particular emphasis on prosecuting gun crimes, and partner with Federal law enforcement if necessary, to send a message that crimes committed with a gun, or illegal possession of firearms, will not be tolerated.
Implement Gunshot-Locater Technology: As reported today by Danny Westneat in the Seattle Times, the city pledged a year ago to implement a system that uses microphones placed around a crime hot spot to triangulate the precise time and place a gun is fired. It is still not installed.
Partner with Community Organizations: For our strategies to work, there must be strong connections between officers and community leaders. Community groups can identify where the needs are greatest, and be the strongest messengers within neighborhoods. I also support bringing back Community Service Officers - SPD officers without guns whose primary job is coordinating with the community. Building trust also requires transparency and progress on police reform.
Reduce Recidivism: We know that people returning to the community from prison are at risk of engaging in criminal activity. During my term we started Career Bridge, an innovative program to provide community support and job training. We should expand our efforts so that every individual is given a fair shot to re-enter community life.
Expand Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion city-wide: This program allows officers to direct addicts directly to treatment, not jail. It has been hailed nationwide as an effective new tool.
We’ve been here before, and we know what works. It’s time for effective management of our resources to make our city safer for everyone.