From last night’s West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network meeting – the return of SPD’s Community Service Officers, plus an update/Q&A on local crime trends.
COMMUNITY SERVICE OFFICERS: This SPD program is being revived after more than a decade. Presenter Angela Socci from SPD talked about its history from 1971-2004 as a bridge between the police and underserved neighborhoods. Now, for 2018, there’s money in the budget, and she is making the rounds seeking input about what the new CSO program should look like and how it might fit into the current existing structure, which includes Community Police Team Officers and Crime Prevention Coordinators. The major public outreach and rollout is expected to start in January.
One thing for certain: As they were back in the day, the CSOs will be uniformed but unarmed. No mission statement yet, though. So, Socci asked meeting attendees, what skills should the new CSOs have, and what would you like to see them do?
Many said the skillset should include things like de-escalation, conflict management, knowledge of group dynamics, and a general understanding of psychology. That came up again when someone asked if the CSOs might interact with homeless people and others who are dealing with mental illness.
As far as what they should do, there were requests to send CSOs into schools to deal with troubled kids and also to get involved when kids get interested in gangs. Also there was talk about dealing with
runaways and families who are having issues.
According to Socci, SPD is largely just listening and pulling all the comments together from people like this group, for now. She and her team will also be working with the city’s Office of Civil Rights to see how the CSOs can work to apply the social-equity toolkit.
CRIME TRENDS AND CONCERNS: The meeting began with Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis giving toplines on recent crime trends. Overall, crime is down from this time last year, he said, and SPD continues to work with judges and prosecutors to try to slow down the cycle of catch/release, catch/release for people arrested for crimes such as car prowls. Attendees told Capt. Davis that they would like to see more traffic enforcement, particularly for drivers failing to stop for pedestrians, as well as speeding. No info yet on plans for enforcement of the new cell-phone law, which takes effect next month. Though it didn’t come up in open discussion, we asked Capt. Davis afterward if he had an update on last month’s Alki murder; short answer, no, but longer answer, detectives are continuing to work on identifying the suspected killer.
The West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network will not meet in July or August, so next meeting will be the fourth Tuesday in September – that’s 6:30 pm September 26th.