With Shots Fired in Our Parks--Who is Leading?

SEATTLE - On Tuesday, mayoral candidate Mike McGinn delivered remarks at City Hall, expressing concern about a dramatic increase in shots fired in Seattle, including two recent daytime murders at Rainier Playfield, a popular place for local children.

This morning SPD reported on a gun fight in Golden Gardens Park Tuesday night, a popular gathering place on summer nights. One person was injured. Officers found 21 rifle rounds and six .380 rounds in the area.

Shots fired year-to-date in Seattle are 65% higher than in 2013. So far this year, 213 shots have been fired, mostly in South Seattle. McGinn said “When I was in Columbia City Friday, I was asked, ‘why isn’t the city doing anything about it?’”

The press conference followed up on the Monday night’s televised debates, during which candidates debated the merits of the Department of Justice consent decree and whether or not Seattle was becoming safer. McGinn, at the time, mentioned the extended absence of SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole — to the surprise of many other candidates.

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Right now, there are conflicting reports about whether Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole, has taken a full-time job in Ireland and whether she is planning to depart. O’Toole, who took on a leadership position with the Irish police in May, told the Seattle Times that the position “in no way lessens my commitment to the Seattle Police Department and the people of Seattle.” However, statements from Irish officials and press have claimed that Chief O’Toole “is finishing up her position in Seattle” to take up the Irish job “on a full-time basis.”

There has also been speculation in the Irish media regarding the fact that “it is not known if the government is footing the full bill for O’Toole’s relocation costs.”

McGinn also expressed concern about the lack of accountability within the Seattle Police Department and a perceived lack of leadership. 

“I’ve learned the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative is being systematically defunded, a program that I worked hard to expand. We also know that public trust in police reform has been shaken by recent events.”

O’Toole earns $250,000 per year and was granted up to $40,000 for relocation fees to come to Seattle in 2014.

McGinn pressed Council and Mayor Ed Murray to assess the needs of the City in considering the future of policing.

“I have two simple and straightforward questions. First, has the chief of police taken a job in Ireland? And if she has, are we ok with the Seattle Chief of Police being a part-time job?”