July 10, 4:52 PM click here to comment > 5
Captain Dermody updates the public on summer public safety plans in the West Precinct
Every neighborhood in Seattle faces different challenges. This is particularly true in the realm of public safety. What works in one community won’t work in another. That’s why it’s so important that we talk directly with community members to make sure what we’re doing is effective in each neighborhood, and why we use data analysis to identify trends and hot spots as soon as they arise.
This week and next, Mayor McGinn will be visiting each precinct in Seattle to tour neighborhood hot spots and talk with precinct commanders about what they’re doing to prepare for the summer months, which are traditionally accompanied by a rise in 911 calls. Today we visited the West Precinct and talked with Captain Jim Dermody about his plans to combat violent crime and help residents feel safer in their neighborhoods.
Captain Dermody talked about his work on our Center City Initiative, a plan to make downtown Seattle streets more safe, inviting and vibrant. Captain Dermody has been working through the CCI to bring local businesses together with City departments, including SPD, to make sure the concerns of our businesses are being heard and have what they need to succeed.
He also talked about his efforts to emphasize data usage and hot spot policing. Captain Dermody has been leading the West Precinct for only a matter of weeks, and one of his first steps was to double the precinct’s crime analysis capacity and bring in an extra detective to analyze trends and identify hot spots. They identified four major spots in West Precinct to focus on, and Captain Dermody has ordered “directed patrols” for those areas.
Directed patrols involve bringing together a number of tactics we’ve used in the past into a cohesive whole. We know that random car patrols are not an effective use of resources, but we also know that officers responding to 911 calls need the geographic flexibility a vehicle provides. With directed patrols, officers use their cars, but are directed to park in hot spot areas in between 911 calls and make face to face contact with business owners and residents to make sure all officers are dialed in to what’s going on in the neighborhood on a day-to-day basis. The visible presence of officers who would otherwise be patrolling in their vehicles also serves as a deterrent to crime. We’ve also emphasized foot and bike patrols in these areas.
Already we’ve heard great feedback from neighborhood residents and businesses on the effectiveness of our directed patrols. And we’ve seen dramatic reductions in volume of 911 calls in the hot spot areas we’re focusing on.
Captain Dermody also offered an update on our Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program, which is a new pilot project this year in Belltown only. He reported that SPD is hearing great stories about people who have been through the LEAD program now attending job training classes and getting treatment for drug addiction. Offering treatment as an alternative to incarceration seems to be paying off in reducing street disorder.
We’ll be visiting each precinct in the next week to find out more about what precinct commanders are doing to prepare for the summer months. Stay tuned on our blog for more on the state of public safety in your neighborhood.
Posted by: Words: April Thomas, Pictures: Jen Nance