So confirmed Lt. Dorothy Kim during tonight’s online West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting, a short and sparsely attended gathering. It was led by precinct Crime Prevention Coordinator Jennifer Danner. Precinct commander Capt. Kevin Grossman was unable to attend, so the meeting-opening update was brief, just a quick recap of some of the 2020 crime stats we reported last week.
Auto theft was up, and one recent victim was among the community members in attendance: Ron, who recently experienced auto theft in Upper Morgan, despite a Club, wondered what advice SPD had for people to protect their property. Danner said it’s fairly rare for Clubs to be defeated. She said an audible alarm might be a good idea, Lt. Kim seconded that, as well as an alarm or other system with a flashing light inside the vehicle. (Ron’s pickup was found in South Park. Lt. Kim said SW Precinct officers find stolen cars every day; she didn’t have details on where they’re most commonly found, but promised to compile that information.)
Attendee question: Have the mobile cameras reduced crime and police callouts at Westwood Village? That’s still one of their highest-call-volume sites, Danner said. Lt. Kim said that the cameras might not be deterrents but “for sure they’re being used” to identify suspects after crimes are committed.
Another attendee asked about small encampments and whether they can be removed; she had noticed one on a sidewalk in South Delridge just north of Roxbury. Because of COVID, encampment removals aren’t happening, Danner said. But if this is blocking a sidewalk, it might be an ADA violation, precinct-liaison city attorney Joe Everett agreed. The attendee was advised to try contacting SDOT and Seattle Public Utilities for right-of-way/trash issues – they are keeping track of these issues, if not immediately taking action, he said.
Another question had to do with cars parked long-term on a street in North Delridge. The city isn’t currently enforcing the 72-hour rule, said Everett, but there’s talk that might change. Nonetheless, if it’s an abandoned junk vehicle, report it to Parking Enforcement, because that’s different – they are still enforcing other laws related to parking, Danner said.
What about graffiti vandalism? If it’s on public property, SPU responds, Everett says. (Here’s how to report it and/or deal with it, wherever you find it.)
As community questions dwindled, we asked about the state of precinct staffing. Current levels are “not the best,” said Lt. Kim (who just arrived at the precinct a week and a half ago, but said she’s a West Seattle resident and spent 10 years patroling in this area). Since the summer, she said the precinct lost 30 percent of its patrol officers – some to resignations, some to retirements, some were moved to the department’s new Community Response Group. Second and third watches (shifts) are particularly hard hit, she said, and this is another reason why it’s important that some issues, like homelessness, have shifted to other departments. (We’ll be following up on how many of those positions remain open.)
An attendee asked what can be done to show support for officers. Thank-you notes are great, and go into personnel files, it was mentioned. Lt. Kim also said thanking officers in person is appreciated – she’s been in police work for 26 years – “some officers are a bit down given all the rhetoric that’s been going on” and are bolstered by expressions of support for their service.
NEXT MEETING: Watch for word of the next WSCPC meeting in February – usually the third Tuesday, but the start time has changed in recent months.