Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole spent about an hour with students at Denny International Middle School this afternoon. It ended with that group photo, following a bouquet presentation and an exchange of warm words of thanks, but the message the chief heard before all that was clear and unmistakable: Students want more help staying safe.
That’s just one of the “Youth Ambassadors” who spoke to the chief; others showed her a student-produced video showing some of the area concerns, including Roxhill Park, and recapping some of the incidents targeting students earlier this year. (Added: We captured most of the short film on video, but hope to get/find a direct copy to substitute eventually:)
O’Toole promised to step up patrols, but also spoke of prevention and intervention; she advised the students to stay watchful, telling the story of what she learned, working as a decoy officer, right after mentioning she’d been discussing the area with former Southwest Precinct commander, now Assistant Chief, Steve Wilske:
The Youth Ambassadors told the chief they’re seeking a $2,500 “Small Sparks” grant from the city Department of Neighborhoods for their safety project – that’s related to the Block Watch-style effort the Denny PTA told us about earlier in the year. Their class, as explained by the event announcement from Seattle Public Schools, is facilitated by Lori Markowitz and Denny staffer Matthew Riippa, and “emphasizes peer mentorship, leadership and compassion.” They explored “issues of student safety” as part of their “acts-of-compassion projects”; part of that involved surveying about 150 eighth graders. More photos to come.
One student suggested to Chief O’Toole that schools should be included in the new SPD Safe Place anti-hate crime campaign; the chief mused aloud that Denny might be a good site to try a pilot version of that.
P.S. Lots of citywide media covered this event, so if you’re seeing TV trucks in the Denny/Sealth area (one person has already called us to ask), that’s what it’s about.