VIDEO: Police Chief O’Toole ‘continues the conversation’ in West Seattle

(UPDATED THURSDAY MORNING with our full video of event)

6:58 PM: About 70 people are at the Senior Center for SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole‘s encore appearance. We can’t live-chronicle it due to chairlessness but we are recording video and also tweeting (you can view without being a Twitter user) at @westseattleblog. (Added: Some of what we tweeted during the meeting, focusing on the WS-specific questions/answers)

*Note, the exchange above with Deb Barker and Chief O’Toole, regarding 911 responses to non-major incidents and whether SPD needs more officers, starts at about 42 minutes into the video. She had said earlier in the meeting that while her former city, Boston, has a comparable population, its police force is more than 800 officers larger. She also discusses an ongoing study that will result in a report to the mayor on what would be the appropriate size of the SPD force, and says that’ll be out in the summer.

The meeting continued:

(Added … From the final half-hour of the meeting:)

Herbold also asked O’Toole if she’s considering using civilian community-service officers; the chief said she “loved that idea.” And she said she had met earlier with Somali families in High Point who told her that they would like SPD to have a community liaison for their community; O’Toole mentioned they are still reviewing candidates for the East African community liaison. Co-moderator Pete Spalding then read an audience question on the same subject, to which O’Toole added that the East African Advisory Committee is being re-established as well.

Another City Council candidate was at the microphone as well:

Helmick elaborated regarding the Westwood-area problems on which the community council she chairs has dealt with Wilske and the precinct. She then asked a question about a friend of hers whom she said had applied to become an officer but had been told she didn’t appropriately answer a question about how to handle a difficult situation. O’Toole suggested that Helmick’s friend contact her so SPD could “talk to her and figure out what went awry there.”

8:26 PM: The meeting’s over. Uneventful – no disruptions, lots of questions, lots of answers. People are lingering to talk not only with the chief but also with now-Assistant Chief Steve Wilske, who will be “hand-pick(ing)” his successor as Southwest Precinct commander, though no timetable has been mentioned.

THURSDAY MORNING NOTE: Update – here’s the video. Update 2 – as of 10:29 am, it’s embedded atop this story, too. Update 3 – as of 12:18 pm, we have added highlights from the final half-hour of the meeting.

7 Replies to "VIDEO: Police Chief O'Toole 'continues the conversation' in West Seattle"

  • KT March 11, 2015 (9:27 pm)

    The Chief says they are adding 100 new officers but 1) isn’t that over a period of years and 2) are they keeping up with attrition every year?

  • G March 12, 2015 (7:21 am)

    Adding more police officers is a good start and maybe some calls will start taking a higher priority, but none of this explains why the high crime rate in the first place. A much deeper conversation needs to be had.

  • Phil Mocek March 12, 2015 (10:13 am)

    “Too few officers?” At the May 14, 2014, budget workshop Seattle City Council held at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, I heard City Council President Tim Burgess announce to the room that despite their efforts, council members had been able to determine what only about 400 of SPD’s nearly 1300 sworn officers are assigned to do. He said they looked forward to a potential audit of staffing to get a better handle on things. Has that happened? Until we know that existing staff are allocated appropriately, we should refrain from paying for additional staff.

    • WSB March 12, 2015 (10:25 am)

      I think that’s the audit/study/review to which she referred. Sorry for the Tweet limitations, wasn’t able to take full notes via the phone but I’ll find the audio on that – have just posted our video link and it looks like I’ll be able to add an embedded version too. (Added – her description of that was part of an exchange that started around 42 minutes in.)

  • cid March 12, 2015 (4:11 pm)

    Thanks for posting the video. I was unable to attend, but gained a lot of info from watching this. Glad to hear about the bike patrol and foot patrol in Westwood/Roxhill

  • ltfd March 12, 2015 (7:45 pm)

    There are times, due to various factors (police officers off sick, major incidents in other precincts, transporting prisoners to jail, etc.) that there are only one or two patrol officers covering West Seattle. Scary.

  • westseattledood March 12, 2015 (10:53 pm)


    please verify a source for that. the.

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