Following a spike in crime during the coronavirus pandemic that culminated in three deaths near the Mt. Baker light rail station in June, community members at Artspace Mt. Baker Lofts (Artspace) urgently called upon City officials to tour the neighborhood and hear grievances from residents and business operators during an hour-long conference on the afternoon of Sept. 17.
Jamil Suleman, the Mt. Baker-based artist and business leader who organized the event, asked for officials and community members to set aside personal politics in order to relay the neighborhood’s reports of theft, arson, and toxic dumping to City officials. Among those in attendance were Mayor Jenny Durkan, Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales, Chief Adrian Diaz and Mark Solomon of the Seattle Police Department, as well as members of the Artspace staff and the adjacent preschool. Suleman expressed that having all these voices together was quite unprecedented, and in order for action to be swift, bureaucracy must be circumvented. Everyone had to understand firsthand. Everyone had to be there.
This Tuesday, Aug. 3, residents and neighbors throughout Seattle will participate in National Night Out, an event organized by the Seattle Police Department (SPD), and police departments across the country, to encourage community safety collaboration and communication with law enforcement.
Residents can use the opportunity to meet with neighbors who might collect mail when they’re gone and keep an eye on their home when absent. Law enforcement hopes that these types of connections will also help residents identify, and report, crime trends in their neighborhood.
According to Jennifer Danner, a crime prevention coordinator with SPD, the COVID-19 pandemic has kept this year’s registration to about half of what it was in 2019, when roughly 1,400 parties registered for the event in Seattle. However, the layout of the event will remain largely the same — various neighborhood block parties, barbeques, and social gatherings where residents also have an excuse to combat the Seattle Freeze.
Seattle – This Afternoon Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced that his 2015-16 budget to be formally proposed on Sept. 22 will make new investments in public safety and the safety net, including funding to South Seattle area violence prevention groups.
The budget, as currently constituted, seeks to allocate $100,000 for the Breakfast Group Mentoring Program, a program designed to provide young men of color in Seattle Public Schools with wrap-around services, individualized instruction plans and mentoring to complete their secondary education and improve employment opportunities for them.
The mayor’s budget also designates $75,000 for the Rainier Valley Corp, located in Hillman City, to recruit emerging leaders from diverse immigrant communities and provide training, support and mentorship. South Seattle currently has the highest concentration of immigrants and first generation Americans of anywhere else in the city.
“Public safety is our number one priority, and my budget for the police department reflects these basic budgeting principles by investing in best management practices and more effective use of resources to get better outcomes.” Said Murray.
In regard to direct investment in public safety, Murray’s 2015-16 budget for the Seattle Police Department will propose funding more civilian expertise, including a civilian Chief Operating Officer and a civilian Chief Information Officer for improved operations and systems management and innovation. The COO has been hired, and has already implemented CompStat, the crime and disorder data tracking and analysis method made famous by Commissioner William Bratton in New York City in the 1990s, where it was credited with reducing crime by 60 percent.
“CompStat will take the police department to the next level in observing, mapping and tracking patterns of crime and disorder, and in mobilizing, analyzing and evaluating officer response,” said Murray. “It is a major reform that I believe is the key to our future success in crime prevention, in efficient and effective deployment of SPD resources, and in police accountability.”
CompStat will be used in conjunction with the “micro-policing plans” that Chief Kathy O’Toole will deliver and make publicly available by the end of 2014, Murray said. The plans will reflect the specific needs and circumstances of each of the unique neighborhoods of the city, and are intended to reconnect officers with the communities they serve. CompStat will provide timely and accurate data to inform an ever-evolving patrol strategy, focusing resources on areas of concern and ensuring that police are present and visible where needed most.
With school buses being cut and school start times skewed many of us working parents will be sending our kids to school on Metro or on foot in just a few weeks. If you’re within the 2-mile ‘walk zone’ of your child’s school then your child will not be riding a school bus this fall. As many of us are not afforded the luxury of beginning our workday at 10 a.m. (can you say 9:30 start times?) our older kids will be in charge of locking up & getting themselves to & from school. Add that to the near daily reports of phone snatchings and home invasions and anxiety ensues. Here are some ways of teaching our kids to protect themselves while we’re not with them, both at home & on the road.
Somewhere to start:
Speak honestly with your child about being aware of their surroundings while using a phone or other electronic device. This includes while riding the bus or train as well as while waiting at the stop or station. The idea to convey is that being aware of your surroundings makes you appear to be less of an easy target.
Discuss plans of action if someone is acting aggressively or making your child feel uncomfortable.
Communicate some common sense rules about locking up around the house, including locking up bikes & not leaving expensive items near open ground floor windows.
Additionally the South Precinct Crime Prevention contact, Mark Solomon (firstname.lastname@example.org ), offers the following tips to share with your family:
STUDENT PERSONAL SAFETY
Violent crime in Seattle is one of the lowest for cities it’s size in the nation. And “Stranger Danger,” one of the most frightening types of reports in the news, is actually one of the rarest types of crimes. With that said, there are no guarantees that you will never become a victim of violent crime. However, there are some basic, sensible and easy to follow precautions that can lessen your chances of this type of encounter.
Follow your intuition. Pay close attention to the uncomfortable feelings that often warn us of potential danger. “Trust your Gut.” If you feel that a situation is not right, move out of the situation. Trusting your own instincts that a situation feels “wrong” can be the best personal safety tool you have. Don’t be afraid to cross the street, return to a business or ask for help based on that “funny feeling.” You may be right.
Be aware of your surroundings. In social situations, be alert to places and situations that make you vulnerable. Know who is nearby or who may be following you.
Walk confidently and alertly. Avoid walking alone and using shortcuts.
Walk with others and stay on paths that are well lit where you can easily see and be seen.
Carry your valuables safely. Don’t display items (e.g., I-pods, cash, phones), when walking to and from your destination.
BEING SAFEON THE BUS OR LIGHT RAIL
Maintain situational awareness on the bus, train and at transit stops.
While waiting for public transportation, keep your back close to a wall (or pole) so that you cannot be surprised from behind.
Don’t use or flash valuables like IPODS on the bus or train.
If there is a problem on the bus or train, notify the driver and/or call 911.
If someone is bothering you on the bus or train, notify the driver
If few people are on the bus or train, sit near the driver.
Use the transit schedules to minimize the length of time waiting for the bus or train.
Keep your purse, shopping bag, backpack, packages, etc., in your lap, on your arm, or between your feet — not by themselves on an empty seat.
Don’t let yourself doze off on the bus or train; it can make you an easy target.
If you feel uneasy about getting off at your usual stop, stay on until the next stop.
Guard transit passes like cash or other valuables (the school is not entitled to give you a new one if yours is lost or stolen).
BEING SAFEON THE STREET
Know your routes. Notice lighting, alleys, abandoned buildings, and street people.
If you are being followed or you see a person or group further down the street that makes you feel uncomfortable, cross the street, walk in another direction, or ask other people walking if you may walk a short distance with them.
Pick out places that you consider safer, places where you can either make a stand or reassure yourself that you are not being followed (i.e., lit porches, bus stops, stores, etc.).
Walk near the curb and away from buildings, trees, and shrubbery, which can hide potential threats.
When walking to your home or apartment, carry your house keys in your hand. Don’t stand in a doorway and fumble in your purse or pocket for your keys. Have them ready to use.
Always dress so that your movements are not restricted.
IF YOU ARECONFRONTED
It may seem like a good idea to tell a robber that you have no money, but this technique may backfire. It is safer to give up a few dollars. Carry a little money separate from your other funds in an accessible place.
If someone demands your property and displays or implies in any way that they have a weapon, don’t resist. Physical property isn’t worth getting injured or killed over.
If someone tries to grab you, make a scene. Scream, kick, fight . . . do what you can to get away and attract attention.
Robin Boland is a contributing columnist, South Seattle Enthusiast, and often is referred to as “little bird” by her friends who have heights over 5 ft 7
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