By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
As the temperatures have dropped, so has West Seattle crime. The report heard by the West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network tonight was basically what the WS Crime Prevention Council heard last week (WSB coverage here), and what online reports have borne out: After an early August spike, and some key arrests, things have slowed way down.
From tonight’s meeting at the Southwest Precinct:
CRIME TRENDS: Operations Lt. Ron Smith told the 15+ WSBWCN attendees that the Anti-Crime Team has “made some great arrests,” about a dozen people. While back during the week of August 9th, there were 32 car prowls in West Seattle – “that’s a lot” for this area – that fell to 8 car prowls a week in mid-September, and this past week, 3 car prowls, after some arrests with the help of watchful neighbors – “our K-9 is running down the street and a citizen will come out and identify which shed someone is hiding in.” Lt. Smith declared that drop “That’s a drastic turnaround.” One commercial burglary this past week, also a drop, and residential burglaries are also down on average – peaking in early August at 14 burglaries one week, declining to 4 the week of September 6th, 7 the most recent week (as shown here last night). Year-to-date compared to last year, residential burglaries are down 5 percent in this area – 349, compared to 370. (At right, the city map for the past week, filtered for burglaries, car prowls, and robberies.)
Auto thefts are reported to be up a bit lately but down 5 percent year-to-year – Lt. Smith says some of the more recent arrestees are “back on the streets” so the Anti-Crime Team is back on their case. The robbery rate is more or less unchanged, averaging three per week, which includes shoplifting cases that were classified as robberies because the thief used force. Lt. Smith also mentioned that the recent Hamilton Viewpoint Park concerns seemed to be under control. Asked about the Community Police Team status, it’s still at half-strength, down to two officers, but three candidates are being evaluated, Lt. Smith said.
Two other major topics tonight:
MICRO-COMMUNITY POLICING PLANS: Jennifer Burbridge, who’s in the middle of a year-and-a-half embed with the precinct as a research intern from Seattle University, is continuing to work on these. She mentioned the 10 neighborhood-by-neighborhood focus groups she conducted over the summer – most previewed here – and as a result of those group discussions, she said, they’re revising the early-stage plans that had been published months ago. (You can see them pre-revision by going to this page on the SPD website.)
For those just tuning into the existence of the plans, she explained, the first ones were worked on with existing neighborhood councils, before expanding beyond the neighborhoods that have them. She’s turned in the revised plans – some, such as the one for Alki, “changing quite a bit” – and waiting for them to be uploaded to the SPD site. Next step for your feedback: In mid-October, she said, a citywide “community survey” will be circulated, with questions about crime/safety issues and community relationships with police. It won’t just be available online – Burbridge plans to be at locations such as community centers and libraries to catch up with people in person, too.
ALERT SEATTLE: 14,300 people have opted in since this new system launched last month, the group was told by Kristin Tinsley from the city, who announced that everybody here is now an honorary ambassador for it. says they’re hoping to sign up Block Watch captains as ambassadors for the new system – which you can sign up here. It’s not just for citywide alerts – it can also be used to “push out alerts” to a specific geographic area, she said. If you were an early adopter, you probably got the first-ever message sent – during the late-August windstorm power outages. She explained the types of situations for which the alerts will be deployed eventually – including disruptions in utility schedules (such as trash pickup). Special-event alerts would be sent out – one was sent out for the Chinese president’s visit, and if the service had been available, the Seahawks post-Super Bowl parade a couple years ago would have been a candidate. They’re planning to host sign-up events at local libraries, for people who can’t or don’t want to do it online.
The West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network meets fourth Tuesdays most months, 6:30 pm at the precinct – watch its website for updates.