Here are the toplines from the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council‘s first meeting since October:
CRIME TRENDS: Southwest Precinct crime overall was down almost five percent in 2019 from 2018, said the precinct’s operations commander, Lt. Steve Strand. They’re hoping to repeat that in 2020. Lt. Strand stressed the importance of reporting all crime so they know what’s happening and where to focus patrols. (If it’s happening now, call 911; if not, most crimes can be reported online – go here.)
The new year has begun with an uptick in auto theft – south West Seattle was hit hardest, and cars are usually found one to four days later, often outside the city. The Automated License Plate Readers are continuing to help detect stolen cars and the precinct hopes to get more, but Lt. Strand says a legal concern has put expansion of their use on hold. (We’re following up on this.) Overall, “our numbers are low in West Seattle.”
UNAUTHORIZED ENCAMPMENTS: When this topic came up at the Tuesday night meeting, Lt. Strand mentioned that a 26th/Juneau encampment was scheduled for Wednesday. (We went by the next day to look, but nothing was visible from the street.)
COMMUNITY CONCERNS: A woman brought up suspected drug sales in High Point Commons Park. … One woman asked about Lincoln Park; Lt.Strand mentioned that the longtime nuisance house across from the north parking lot is for sale. Local police have been working on that for a decade or so, Lt. Strand estimated.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS: Steve Lambert, who works with community corrections – similar to probation/parole – was the guest speaker. He’s been with the division since 2002, first working with offenders, then becoming a specialist assigned to SPD’s Anti-Crime Team for the past ~15 years. A lot of “fugitive apprehension,” he explained, going after people who have arrest warrants out for them. “We go all over the place”- four DOC specialists in Seattle, but they used to have “a lot more.” He says his specialty historically has been working with gang activity: “There’s issues throughout the city.”
He opened the floor to Q&A after just a few minutes.
Are there halfway houses in our area? If there are, they’re under the radar, no problems that have come to DOC’s attention, he said.
Where do released prisoners check in? There’s a West Seattle office near 35th/Morgan.
Does Washington house prisoners from other states? Generally, no, since our prisons are out of space, Lambert said.
Lambert was asked about DOC presence over the years at big events like the Bite of Seattle, Torchlight Parade, etc. Used to be they drew a lot of troublemakers – gang members, etc. – but not any more, he said;.
Why do some people still sell marijuana on the street when it’s sold legally? Lower prices, as well as evading age restrictions,
If someone’s under supervision, how often do they meet with an officer? Depends, Lambert said.
He mentioned the department’s gone through a lot of staff cuts.
Other quick points:
If offenders violate terms of release, they can be returned to custody. … When someone is released from prison, they have to be released to their “county of origin.” … Any particular neighborhoods where there’s more danger? No, said Lambert: “I’ve kicked in doors in my own neighborhood.”
Also: “There’s a lot fewer people on supervision than years ago” – 12,000 now, about half than what they dealt with in the past. “It’s a good thing,” he asserted, as they can be more effective with lower caseloads consisting of the most serious offenders.
UPCOMING TOPICS: WSCPC meets at 7 pm on third Tuesdays. Next month: Domestic violence. March: SDOT, updating the area’s most dangerous intersections. One suggestion for another topic in the months ahead: How to fill out an online crime report.