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.”