Why a police officer might turn up at your door, with questions

In the Seattle Police Southwest and North Precincts, a “pilot program” is under way to talk one-on-one with residents about crime and safety issues in their neighborhoods – by sending police officers door-to-door with a survey of sorts. We learned about this from a West Seattleite who messaged us about it via Facebook after an officer showed up at her door to ask some questions. Our request to precinct staff for more information drew a callback from Capt. Joe Kessler, who explained:

The captain says Community Police Team officers are doing this as an extension of their regular work, which is separate from patroling – their job is to be proactively out and about in neighborhoods anyway, learning about and following up on ongoing issues. It’s also above and beyond the type of surveying SPD has done previously, which has utilized a professional opinion-gathering firm to check on “citizen satisfaction” regarding interaction with police or the 911 call center.

What’s happening in West Seattle right now is a random sampling, according to Capt. Kessler, in different blocks of an unspecified “small area,” different times of the day, and the results will be collated at month’s end to see what they found out.

Beyond simple questions/answers, he says the value of having officers talking with residents, as opposed to third-party survey-takers, is that they can follow up if the residents volunteer information about a crime concern in the area, asking for more detail – they might even happen onto an incident, or chronic problem, never reported to police. The questions include whether crime has become better or worse in your neighborhood, what kind of crimes have happened in recent months, and how you get information about crime in your neighborhood.

Depending on the results of this survey, Capt. Kessler says, it might expand to other areas of the city. He’s hopeful “we’re going to learn some things we didn’t already know” about what’s really going on: “If it gives us something we don’t know, it’ll be worth it.”

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22 Replies to "Why a police officer might turn up at your door, with questions"

  • comment-avatar
    William Brewer June 16, 2010 (10:20 am)

    Excellent idea. I hope they cover a wide cross section of West Seattle.

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    rudy June 16, 2010 (10:30 am)

    Thanks for the heads up, it’s not usually a good thing when there’s an officer on your doorstep….

  • comment-avatar
    arborheightsdad June 16, 2010 (10:41 am)

    While we have not had a lot of major issues in our neighborhood, I would welcome a visit.

  • comment-avatar
    marty June 16, 2010 (10:49 am)

    After all of the commotion here on Alki last weekend I could make several suggestions. This is a great idea…

  • comment-avatar
    Krystal June 16, 2010 (11:46 am)

    I would LOVE to speak with them! Great idea.

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    Trader Yes June 16, 2010 (1:30 pm)

    Lets hope they respect No Solicitation signs..

  • comment-avatar
    Hylite June 16, 2010 (2:57 pm)

    Good link Nick
    It sound like the police are going to start building files on people. Log your opinion to make a map of files to mark out who’s good and who’s the people that may not like them for what ever reason could end up being a real bad idea When they start abusing the Info.

  • comment-avatar
    Charles June 16, 2010 (3:19 pm)

    I’m pretty sure police officers doing public outreach doesn’t count as “solicitation”, TY.

  • comment-avatar
    mpento June 16, 2010 (3:42 pm)

    They’re making a list, they’re checking it twice. They’re gonna find out who’s naughty or nice. I wonder if they will coordinate with the electricty usage? Time for those solar panels dude!

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    steve June 16, 2010 (4:45 pm)

    A great idea, but this article led to a funny occurence today. A friend and I were pruning a hedge next to my house, my truck on 35th as I put the branches in. All of a sudden a patrol car pulled up behind my truck and out they got. Having just read the article, I tipped my hat and asked them if they wanted to ask me some questions, ala the article. They did, but apparently a neighbor’s worker had seen a strange truck in back and called the police about a possible burglar (there have been a rash of late). All was quickly smoothed out, I thanked the officers for their diligence, thanked the neighbor for the heads up call, and decided that if the police want to ask questions they can go first!

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    Amanda June 16, 2010 (7:51 pm)

    Yep, talked to them today. They asked some basic questions, nothing personal, and wanted me to circle a map of what I considered “my neighborhood”. He asked about my block and crimes that had been committed and when, what my concerns are, and what I would like the police to do more of. I suggested patrol Roxhill Park on a consistent basis, but couldn’t really think of anything else. We talked about the recent cop videos and commended them on doing a good job.

    He said it was for re-deployment of officers.

  • comment-avatar
    Amanda June 16, 2010 (8:07 pm)

    Oh, and he asked where I went to for information about crimes and the neighborhood, and I told him West Seattle Blog of course. He told me that he checks in on the WSB after a day off of work because he knows it will have the most updated info. ;)

  • comment-avatar
    countermeme June 16, 2010 (10:40 pm)

    Doesn’t the SPD know its rude to make unannounced visits? Sounds like a random search. At least we still have the right to remain silent.

  • comment-avatar
    MAS June 16, 2010 (11:20 pm)

    Countermeme – according to the Supreme Court, you only have the right to remain silent if you actively assert that right – by um, not remaining silent.

  • comment-avatar
    ddd June 16, 2010 (11:40 pm)

    Where on the SPD website is information about this project? I’ve looked and cannot find anything.

    • comment-avatar
      WSB June 16, 2010 (11:46 pm)

      I don’t believe there is any info online. This is a story we enterprised – like many – someone sends us a note saying they heard/saw something, or something happened (in this case, a police officer showed up to talk with the reader), and we start checking it out from there. After hearing about this yesterday, I contacted the precinct, and got a pretty quick callback from Capt. Kessler; I didn’t get to write the story till this morning, but did the research yesterday – TR

  • comment-avatar
    amused June 17, 2010 (6:42 am)

    Maybe the cops should concentrate on finding criminals so the courts have somebody to release, rather than acting like census takers.

  • comment-avatar
    sophista-tiki June 17, 2010 (7:57 am)

    Sounds a little BIG BROTHER to me

  • comment-avatar
    countermeme June 17, 2010 (11:06 am)

    @DAS: Haa Haa; touche. Nevertheless, I’m dubious about the efficacy of particpitating in a random “survey”– read intel servelliance–given the complete failure of police tactics over the decades. For those not immune to facts on the ground, it is evident that the criminal justice system treats the citizenry with suspicion, distributes justice unequally, creates disorder for the purposes of control, and to top it off, will bankrupt municpalities. Wouldn’t be surprised if their being paid double time. BTW, the only crimes I’m aware of being committed are by my neighbors, many self-righteously.

  • comment-avatar
    Amanda June 17, 2010 (11:34 am)

    Seriously guys, it was totally benign. No need to freak out and “buy duct tape and plastic sheeting”, if you catch my drift.

  • comment-avatar
    S June 17, 2010 (10:26 pm)

    Thanks for the links Nick. Very informative and good to know.

    Thank you WSB for the heads up about the possible visit from the SPD. They are at my apartment bldg so much already, I probably wouldn’t think anything of them being here anyway. We have 2 neighbors in 2 different apartments that we are always haveing to call them on.

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