Seattle Channel
Mayor Mike McGinn presented his assessment of the Safe Communities initiative at the SW Precinct on July 13.

Mayor McGinn visits Southwest Precinct to talk crime and safety

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn spent part of his July 13 weekend touring the Southwest Precinct, covering West Seattle and South Park, and talked about his experience alongside Precinct Captain Joseph Kessler on July 15.

Before meeting with media in front of the Southwest Precinct (which is available for viewing at seattlechannel.org), McGinn said he toured the Nickelsville homeless encampment in West Seattle’s Highland Park neighborhood, visited Alki Beach where police are deploying emphasis patrols during the warm summer months, and visited the High Point community to discuss concerns about youthful shenanigans taking place in parks while kids are out of school.

As viewed on the Seattle Channel website, McGinn and Kessler discussed crime trends over the past year and public safety initiatives in the works.

“Here in the Southwest Precinct, we are seeing this year that robberies are up and burglaries are up year-over-year from last year, so that’s something we have to focus on, though I should say that comes on a very low base of crimes. The Southwest Precinct has a very low crime rate compared to the other precincts,” McGinn said.

“As the mayor said, I think that we have some issues that have been kind of significant,” Kessler added. “The main one here is that our burglary rates went up pretty significantly, over 40 percent. In the last four and eight weeks we have had a significant downtrend and that’s due to a number of arrests that our officers have made …”

Kessler said five arrests have been made in the last week and a half, and four of those were due to 911 calls from the West Seattle community.

“That’s one thing in West Seattle that has not changed is the engagement of our community and the way that people call 911 when they see something suspicious happen, and that has led to the arrests of some major burglars,” Kessler said.

Speaking more on emphasis patrols happening this summer, McGinn said those deployed along Alki during hot summer days and nights have been in place, as well as increased deployment around bar closing time especially in the Admiral district. No specific results of those patrols were shared.

As part of the Seattle Police Department’s 20/20 reform (coming in the wake of a Department of Justice finding of racial bias in policing among other issues), McGinn and Kessler also mentioned the Safe Communities Initiative, which aims to increase police outreach to different communities within Seattle. McGinn said Southwest Precinct officers have been working more closely with West Seattle’s Southeast Asian population recently as part of that project, and that more outreach to more groups is planned in the coming months. The goal of these meetings is to find ways to improve public safety in different neighborhoods.

When asked for the latest in a surveillance camera system SPD and other emergency services hope to use along Seattle’s waterfront, including several in West Seattle, McGinn said SPD is currently reworking their protocols based on community feedback and will present the refined plan to City Council sometime soon. The cameras were paid for in part by a Homeland Security grant to help protect the Port and Sound from terrorist attacks, but SPD hopes to use the cameras to keep an eye on the streets and sidewalks as well. Public outcry over privacy concerns was vehement as a result, and the system has been put on hold.

“Between our outreach and the city council review process there will be ample opportunity for public review of the rules that would apply to those and, again, we haven’t turned those on and will not turn those on until we go through the entire process,” McGinn said.

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