Patrick Robinson
Mayor Mike McGinn spoke briefly at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center about the Safe Communities Initiative on Sept. 27. The effort brings people who otherwise are sometimes overlooked or not included into the discussion about how to make the community safer and how police can do a better job.

Mayor and Seattle Police promoted 'Safe Communities' Sept. 27

Around 120 people gathered at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center on Sept. 27 to talk to the Seattle Police Department and each other about how to make the community safer. The meeting was called the SPD as part of their Safe Communities initiative. The crowd was a mixed one with a number of different cultures in attendance, and interpreters asking the speakers to slow down to get the translations done.

Safe Communities is a partnership between the Mayor's Office and the Seattle Police Department (SPD) to implement the community outreach component of subset of SPD's 20/20 initiative (#19). It's modeled on the Youth and Families Initiative, which brought together more than 3,000 people in over 130 community meetings in 2010 and led to the enhanced Families and Education Levy and a refocusing of the way we use City resources to support youth and families in Seattle.

Safe Communities will follow a similar path, bringing residents, police officers and City departments together for small-group conversations about what we need to do to improve safety. Those priorities will then guide the actions the City, SPD, and the neighborhoods will take together to protect public safety.

Mayor Mike McGinn spoke before the group (then left on an impromptu tour of Pigeon Point with community activist Pete Spalding) and said, "When I took office, one of the first initiatives we launched was the Youth and Families initiative. This effort was modeled on that one, in that we want to come out and listen to you (...) The key question we're asking you is what do we need to do to make safe communities?"

Capt. Steve Paulsen, who commands the Southwest Precinct said, "Part of our success as a city and also as a police department is being able to find ways to do better service for our community. We want to listen to how we can do a better job and if we're missing the mark on anything. What can we do better. We're here to listen. What's exciting about this is that we have people we've never seen before."

Paulsen actually had a small news announcement too regarding a shooting that took place at 26th and Brandon recently. "This brought a lot of fear into the neighborhood and this is a neighborhood that doesn't usually call the police. I can tell you tonight, through some good work, we were able to locate the car and did identify one of the suspects."

The people broke into small groups and followed an agenda that helped them identify critical issues, then prioritize them, then form questions about them. Delegates were appointed from the tables who will later attend a Precinct Summit where they will work with the SPD to form an Action Plan, intended to address the issues raised at the meeting. The last section of the plan will be a report to the community indicating what will be done and next steps that will be taken.

One list of concerns read:

  • Shootings
  • Gang related activity
  • Infrastructure in neighborhood
  • Drug activity
  • Speeding
  • Burglary and theft
  • Public intoxication
  • Liquor stores
  • Grafitti
  • Problem rental properties

Harry Bailey, Senior Policy Advisor to the Mayor said, "The objective here is to get people who traditionally haven't had access to the city government and/or the police department and we want to come together to ask them what they think is the right way to serve them. If you noticed today the Mayor brought all the precinct commanders together and we're doing what they call Directed Patrol where they are looking at where crime is happening and they put officers there to address it. We're going to be adjusting it as we go."

If you'd like to see a good overview of the Safe Communities Initiative watch this interview with Mayor McGinn:

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