At Alki Community Council: Beach police presence, and more

(From left, SPD Capt. Joe Kessler, Alki Community Council officers Paul Carr and Randie Stone)
ORIGINAL 7:13 PM REPORT: At the Alki Community Council meeting, Lt. Steve Paulsen is talking about summertime police presence and of course the May 1st shooting — in which, he has just revealed, another suspect is still being sought. Southwest Precinct Captain Joe Kessler is here too, and acknowledging “it’s not acceptable to have children shooting children.” He says they’ve been “working on some additional plans” regarding possibly obtaining more overtime funding for staffing in areas such as Alki, but adds that “the key for us is, we look at it on a daily basis.” The captain and lieutenant are taking questions now. Capt. Kessler says the shooting victim on May 1st was “an intended victim.” (The 17-year-old suspect is still in jail, in lieu of $250,000 bail.)

ADDED 7:44 PM: One question: “What was the deployment the night of the shooting?” Capt. Kessler acknowledged there were no officers in the immediate area where it happened, but said there were officers in the area, such as down Harbor Ave; Lt. Paulsen added, “That call flushed the precinct” (which had officers ready for the imminent next shift change). Capt. Kessler adds that Community Police Team Officer Ken Mazzuca is primarily assigned to Alki for the duration of the summer – “this is his place” – and says he’ll be on his bike sometimes, confirming there will be additional bicycle-officer presence too.

8:19 PM UPDATE: Many of the questions are related to what can be done if they are being hassled or feeling threatened by beach visitors – that’s being voiced more than concern about out-and-out crime. The police leaders here have had to say, there are no laws against “being rude” or “saying a vile word,” unless it veers into a threat. More info from the meeting as it happens.

12 Replies to "At Alki Community Council: Beach police presence, and more"

  • Ken Allen May 21, 2009 (10:45 pm)

    There seemed to be somewhat of a pep-rally by the 3 officers from the SPD who attended the meeting in an attempt to calm the concerned community members attending. It didn’t work. The phrase “Trust us we know what we are doing” was even used at one point. When they were asked point blank “What is going to be done about the real issues of verbal harassment, drug use, underaged drinking, traffic violations, etc…” the subject was changed. They would laugh with each other and never really answer the question. After the same question was repeated several times the unpopular answer eventually came out. The hard truth is that nothing is going to change. Unless the verbal harassment becomes violent in nature it’s not illegal, and unless a child is injured when they are pushed nothing will be done. Simple fact is it is up to the citizens of the Alki community to stand up and say to all of the punks “Get the Hell out of our Neighborhood”. This element has made our families uncomfortable and it is now time to make it uncomfortable for them. If the SPD is not going to do it on their own we have to force the situation. The squeaky wheel gets the oil. I for one will no longer ignore being pushed, harassed, or be nervous for what profane word may be uttered towards my 6 year old daughter and wife. In summary I am very let down with the week response that we can expect from Seattle’s finest to stop the criminal element that has come to the Alki community. I once thought “What will it take? Does someone need to get shot to make a change?” The sad answer is no… I now ask “Will it take an innocent child getting struck in the cross fire before we get an acceptable response? I hope thats not the case!!! I am over the notion that there is nothing that can be done. I have lived in other Cities that have said “Enough is enough”, and it’s time we stand up and say not in our back yard…

  • Mike May 21, 2009 (11:04 pm)

    Walked my dog along the main stretch of Alki right by Pepper Dock tonight. Pretty packed for a Thursday night, lots of teens gathering around the fire pits, noticed a few cars cruise the same spot in less than 10 minutes multiple times. A couple thousand people down there.

    1 SPD cruiser with 1 cop in it.

    I’m going to go down there now and count how many people I see and how many SPD I notice around there.

  • Dis May 21, 2009 (11:26 pm)

    A Community Council should be a venue where citizens can mobilize and use their collective power to effect a change in their neighbourhood. Maybe the people should organize on their own; it is my impression that the Alki council does not seem very effective in grappling with a difficult situation.

  • WSB May 21, 2009 (11:46 pm)

    Let me jump in here on a bit of a soapbox as we have covered all area community associations/councils closely now for going on two years. They ARE “the people.” Or at least “the people who show up” (that bumper sticker about “showing up” was even on one of the cars outside).
    Generally very few show up to help the associations/councils we cover with the day-in day-out needs of trying to make a difference in a neighborhood. (Admiral Neighborhood Association had something like THREE people turn out for its quarterly adopt-a-street cleanup a few weekends ago.) Several of these groups have the same leaders they’ve had for a few years because nobody else comes forward to take the thankless job, even though the leaders have honestly noted that they are a bit burned out and ready to make way for fresh blood.
    It’s of course natural to show up when there’s a crisis, like the folks who stormed the ACC when they finally noticed the sidewalk project was coming to their street – months if not years after the project was first proposed, reviewed, and discussed in the community council. And it was expressed tonight that it was great to see a somewhat sizable group (I estimate it around three dozen). But I have heard these folks say it would sure be great if a few more people showed up for the mundane business too.
    We write about these groups and publicize their meeting days/times repeatedly so that nobody who pays attention to the news can say they didn’t know. You should know they are all volunteers and they are desperate to hear from the people in their neighborhoods about getting something done.
    Alki CC’s relatively new president Jule Sugarman was not there tonight because he required surgery recently for an accidental but apparently severe eye injury. Vice president Randie Stone ran tonight’s meeting. There were GREAT questions from participants – this was just our first report; I am working on the full-length, quote-laden long version right now – and I read some great ideas in comments on this site in the weeks since the shooting, like citizen patrols, but I didn’t hear anyone propose them tonight… you of course do not HAVE to go through your community council if you want to take action, but they at least did the work of inviting the police and arranging the meeting, for starters.
    If you have tried to get your neighborhood council interested in something — volunteered to be part of it — but then have been rebuffed or ignored, well then, start your own group and we’ll be there to cover it too.
    And if anybody doesn’t know whether there’s a neighborhood group covering their area – we have a list on the sidebar but not all-inclusive because a few don’t have websites – we can tell you, though, based on where you live, who meets in your area.
    Off soapbox now. I think that community councils/associations can be many things, and can be much more than they are now, but they need people to be there month in and month out to lay the strong groundwork for responding to the little things as well as the crises. If each of the dozen-ish groups in West Seattle had HALF A DOZEN MORE regulars each, I would bet on seeing a major difference. Despite 60,000 people on the peninsula, there’s nowhere near even 600 involved in these groups – TR

  • Cami May 22, 2009 (6:04 am)

    Tracy! THANK YOU! My son had a game last night and I couldn’t attend the meeting. I really appreciate your coverage and your follow up above.

  • Craig May 22, 2009 (9:37 am)

    I went to this meeting last night expecting to hear what the strategic response to the situation on Alki was going to be. Instead we heard the resumes (24 years on the force, 10 years in west Seattle, 4 years as a traffic capt., etc., etc.) of the three officers and a canned PR response. We heard how good their tactical response is when called (which I agree is top notch), but nothing about strategy.

    There is no strategy… it’s business as usual. I mean no disrespect to th SPD, but to stand up there and laugh and joke about this was bordering on unprofessional… and the folks in attendance just laughed along encouraging them. Sorry, but this is not funny.

    My neighbors and I have continually called SPD and the mayor’s office bout this and nothing is being done. In fact my neighbor called 1 week before the shooting to inform SPD that there was a dangerous situation culminating down on Alki and that if something wasn’t done someone would wind up getting hurt… and guess what happened? Maybe the response would have been different if a bystander on the beach was hit… but is that what we are waiting for?

    There is a 5 to 6 block stretch that SPD needs to make their presence felt on… from Costal to Cactus. I know that there are problems elsewhere… traffic, parking, speeding, etc… but this 5 block area is the destination. If you make uncomfortable for these clowns to be there then they will stop coming there. Why isn’t there an officer walking that area? Why isn’t there a bike cop down there?

    SPD told us that there is typically nothing they can do about someone standing around being rude… so why dont they just go stand next to them? Seriously, just stand there… because I can tell you that nothing helps your image more than hanging out at the beach with an SPD officer. Trust me they will move on.

  • Pete May 22, 2009 (12:44 pm)

    Thanks for your great comments Tracy. There are many folks in our West Seattle communities that spend countless hours in an attempt to make the place they call home as safe as possible. Once again the police annnot be every where. It is not like the only place where there is any crime is Alki. There unfortunately have been shootings in other areas of our community in the last several months. These communities are also struggling to make a difference in the lives of their citizens. BUT as Tracy stated if you have to be willing to get involved and help to make a difference in your community!!!
    Waiting for Joe down the street to do something or to wait until something does happen without taking the preventatvie steps solves nothing for you. Be willing to stand up and take actions in stead of telling your neighbor that somebody needs to do something about that problem. When you do not do things to make your community a safe and inviting place to live in my eyes you have become a part of the problem.
    I spend a lot of time in meetings trying to make our community a better place for everyone but as stated in an earlier comment there is always mor work that can be done by those that are presently showing up for meetings.
    Next week on that night when you are only going to sit in front of the television….get up and take a walk through your neighborhood, talk to your neighbor about something that you can do together, attend a community meeting, paint out that piece of grafitti on the sign at the end of your block, talk to your kids about their day and what worries them….my point is get out from in fronf of the problems that you want addressed and do something positive to help resolve them. One person at a time can make a difference. Trust me on that one…..

  • Mike May 22, 2009 (1:31 pm)

    “Once again the police annnot be every where. It is not like the only place where there is any crime is Alki.”

    However, when you have over 2,000 individuals all within a small vicinity, you end up with bigger problems that require authority to contol. It’s common knowledge that it will require police presence to maintain civility and calm crowds if something happens (like a gang member shooting somebody). You can’t hold a large event without paying the city to have police present for crowd control but apparently the city has no obligation to place tax payer paid officers at locations that are known to have gatherings of thousands of people.

    I appreciate the job SPD is required to do, but I also expect results to the money I fork out in taxes to pay their paychecks.

  • Dis May 23, 2009 (10:41 am)

    Fair enough, WSB. Some time I would like to have an honest discussion about community groups. Some are effective and others are not. There are a thousand different motivations for people to become involved; some are honorable, some less so. What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? (or some such) People will not be guilted into going to community meetings. It just won’t work.

    The leaders need to use effective strategy to make their groups function, much as a business would do.

    The groups also need to decide for themselves what the heck they want to be. Some define themselves as activist (love these!) and do a great job ferretting out issues and taking stands. The Community Council Federation is a very effective example. At different times, Fremont and Magnolia have done very good work.

    Other groups decide they want to provide information only. Other groups decide to be social groups. The kind of group seems to be a de facto decision made by the leaders. Myself, I would not go to the two latter ones. I get all the information I need (many thanks to WSB as one of the sources!) and no interest in socializing.

    There is also the danger of “insiders” alienating newcomers. Yes, I have seen this happen. Some groups have had the same four or five people sitting in the same seats for more than ten years. And they wonder why they can’t attract new members?

    Instead of chastising people about going to community meetings, I would respectfully submit that a discussion about the effectiveness of these groups may be more productive. People tend to go to meetings when they are personally affected. That will never change.

    There are very few true community activists who get involved for the good of the community, with no thought of their personal gain. These people are extremely rare. One of that rare breed = Chris Jackins.

  • Will May 26, 2009 (8:13 am)

    “it’s not acceptable to have children shooting children.”

    As an adult, I’d just like to mention that in the future you may treat me as a child in regards to shooting.

    I live by a blanket rule that it’s pretty much not acceptable to have anyone shooting anyone.

  • alki_2008 June 1, 2009 (2:47 pm)

    Ken, are you trying to keep non-residents out of Alki…or just the “undesirable” non-residents? Alki Beach is a destination, and the businesses are here because visitors (non-residents) come to Alki Beach. I don’t think the restaurants and shops would be here if residents were the only ones patronizing them…and I don’t want the restaurants to go away.
    Is the neighborhood watch group at all coordinating with the ACC? It would be great to have some interplay between the two groups…to get people interested in the neighborhood watch spill over into interest in the ACC. Maybe the neighborhood watch could be part of the ACC, and then there would be “new blood” to take leadership roles in the ACC. Sounds like the current ACC crew needs an exit strategy? ;)
    The police presence is great, and I’ve noticed that there are some “stealth” police cars. So, just because you don’t SEE the police doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t around.

  • alki_2008 June 1, 2009 (2:48 pm)

    Oops, posted my above comment in the wrong thread…re-posted where I meant for it to go:

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