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September 23, 2009 at 9:39 pm #592436
I’d like to share with the readers my recent experience with the Seattle Police Department. Our family has been increasingly concerned over the increase in West Seattle graffiti. My daughter and I have taken on a summer project of cleaning up graffiti around our neighborhood. It’s not a lot of work and it makes us both feel good.
Last weekend my daughter’s elementary school (Schmitz Park) was badly tagged with graffiti. This is the 3rd time in just 4 weeks the school was tagged with graffiti. The graffiti has the appearance of gang graffiti, which concerns our family. I called the Seattle Police Department to report the graffiti. A very unhelpful woman from the Seattle Police Department informed me that I cannot report my concerns over gang graffiti, as I am not the property owner. I asked why and she stated, “you are not the victim.” I informed her that “we are all the victims” and I simply would like the police to patrol the area more frequently in hopes they can catch and arrest the vandals. She indicated that she couldn’t help me because I do not own the property.
Very frustrated, I organized a neighborhood watch program, where a group of parents and neighbors will patrol the school after hours and report any potential vandalism we spot. However, I still felt the Seattle Police Department should be doing more. So today I went to the Southwest Precinct, armed with 8 x 10 photos of the graffiti from my daughters school, hoping to show these photos to a police officer and request increased patrols. After all, this elementary school has been badly tagged 3 times in the last 4 weeks.
I went to the front desk, where there was no one present. Next I went upstairs to the Records Department. There was no one there. I pressed an intercom button for 10 minutes–no response. I went outside and pressed the intercom button for another 5 minutes–no response. I went around the building, inside the front door, down the hallway and pressed another intercom button for 5 more minutes. Still no response. Thank God this was not an emergency where I ran to the Police Department seeking safe refuge.
As a citizen, I do not mind having to put forth much effort to keep our community safe. But I am very disappointed in the lack of effort and difficulties created by the Seattle Police Department. It would be nice if they could act like they are partners with the community in crime prevention.September 23, 2009 at 9:59 pm #677948September 23, 2009 at 10:24 pm #677949
This is so sad and frustrating to hear! Not only the unhelpful woman you talked to on the phone but the absolute lack of response when you were AT the precinct? I want my tax dollars spent better!September 23, 2009 at 10:26 pm #677950
Excuse me, but as resident’s of the city of Seattle, doesn’t that make us all “owners” of public school property?! And as for the unattended police station, thank goodness you weren’t some psycho or terrorist. Real good security.. yeah. I’m not impressed.September 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm #677951
Our neighbor got a similar attitude over the phone when reporting suspicious behavior in our neighborhood: wholly dismissive. Turned out to be Skyelar and his two juvie thugs casing our homes and ultimately caught and charged for B&E. FRUSTRATING.September 23, 2009 at 11:06 pm #677952
I can’t speak to the entirety of the OP but here are two notes:
1. The precinct front desk is not staffed around the clock. Has not been in the two years since I first set foot in there. FWIW.
2. Someone e-mailed me yesterday about who at the Police Department to direct the graffiti photos to. I asked Lt. Paulsen. Community Police Team Acting Sgt. Adonis Topacio is the guy:September 23, 2009 at 11:33 pm #677953
Come on you all. This might be related to administrative budgets and Yes it sucks. You can pound your fists and kick your feet or you can explore other avenues to address your concerns about the graffitti and the lack of in-person accessibility.
WSB has published at least a gazillion stories referencing the Monthly Crime Prevention Council meetings at the Precinct.
That is the number one place to address this. Do a WSB search under Crime Watch and or Crime Council. Take a
HARD close look at how many other similar reports have
been filed. The solutions are bigger than SW Precinct can be
solely held responsible for.
Also, there are Community Officers assigned to the hoods –
do you know who that officer is for yours? If you do, give him
a call and begin a dialogue with him as well. Finally, formal
Block Watches are coordinated by Benjjamin Kinslow at the
Precinct. Do ALL of this and see what happens. And keep an eye on what the candidates are saying about such matters.
I applaud you for taking the initiative to address the issue for the kids and school. But now you know how deep and wide the scope of the bigger problems are as well. But, please, don’t give up in frustration the good work you have just
begun. Help change happen.September 24, 2009 at 1:00 am #677954
What’s exceptionally frustrating, is that when attending the meetings, we are told “report it!”
When trying to report it, we get the brush-off.
in January 2007, my home was burglarized. My neighbor came home and saw glass everywhere, our living room entirely trashed, and the front door open. He had no idea if we’d been harmed, and called 911 to report it. He was told “you can’t report it if you’re not the victim.” He explained that we might be dead inside the house, and the dispatcher stuck to the story that he’d have to get us to report it. Once I arrived home and reported it, it took three hours for the police to show up. Not because they were slow, but because the dispatcher refused to dispatch them. Flat-out refused. Three hours later, in 17 degree weather, after being told not to enter our home in case someone was still inside, I gave up and went inside anyway. It was dark and cold, and we needed to get the window boarded up.
When the officers finally arrived, they were horrified at the extent of the destruction and asked why they hadn’t been dispatched earlier. I had to tell them that the 911 operator didn’t think it was all that important. They were clearly po’d.
Sometimes, as with the OP, we do all the right things, and still aren’t treated right. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a rant in such a case.September 24, 2009 at 2:54 am #677955
As soon as you see graffitti call the school district security department,they will have it removed by district staff. They have a crew just for this type of rotten situation.Often the district can help solve this crime. Hope they get caught soon. Thanks for taking the time to care about our schools and community.September 24, 2009 at 3:02 am #677956
If you need to talk to a cop, swing by the Dona Queen donut shop on 4th Ave. S. It seems like there’s always several squad cars parked there.September 24, 2009 at 3:23 am #677957September 25, 2009 at 8:07 pm #677958
As a follow-up to my original post, I emailed the graffiti photos to Sgt. Topacio, as suggested by the WSB. He promptly responded with an email and phone call. Sgt. Topacio has since sent out a precinct-wide request for additional evening patrols around Schmitz Park Elementary School. He also put me in touch with Officer Mazzuca, who is the Community Police Officer for the area. We seem to be making some progress.
Thanks WSB for putting me in touch with Sgt. Topacio.September 25, 2009 at 8:52 pm #677959
Schmitz Park Dad, thank you very much for your work! We are parents of a Kindergartener at Schmitz who either didn’t notice the graffiti or didn’t know what it was… either way, we didn’t know about it until your postings. We live a block away from the school so let us know if you need additional support for your “block watch” group. Maybe a school-wide notice would be appropriate? Also, there were two police officers outside the school by the parking lot entrance this week (after school on Tuesday? or Wednesday? can’t remember which)… any idea what that was for?September 25, 2009 at 9:54 pm #677960
Glad to hear the followup, Schmitz Park Dad. I have also been talking to the precinct re: concerns voiced in a news-section comment thread today about the flyers that go around neighborhoods after burglaries, and have posted some clarifying information. As I’m about to note in a separate item, this is what the WSB Forums and similar discussion venues can do at their best – become collaborative chats that lead to progress.
Graffiti vandalism is the nonviolent crime that boils our blood the most, as it is so visible to so many people, and I’m glad to see so many people willing to do what it takes to fight back and show the vandals there’s just no point, STOP IT NOW. Wonder though if that Schmitz Park wall might be a nice spot for a mural like the one on the Super 24 store …
(I hope that mural’s still in good shape, haven’t driven that way on Delridge in recent days.)
Thanks again to everyone for supporting each other.September 25, 2009 at 9:59 pm #677961
Seattle Public Schools Security Department website, includes address, phone number and email.September 25, 2009 at 10:55 pm #677962September 26, 2009 at 12:04 am #677963September 26, 2009 at 3:45 am #677964
The experience some of you had with an uncooperative 911 operator is similar to several experiences I have had within the last year.
In one about 8 months ago I was at Alki Mail when a panel truck sped up that street (can’t remember which one it is), didn’t stop at the stop sign on Admiral, and then proceeded to gun it and go up Admiral at a high rate of speed.
I called 911 and described the situation; I was told by the operator that she wouldn’t dispatch an Officer or even notify the Officers in the area unless I could provide an address for the incident! I explained that since it was a moving vehicle, there was no “address,” although I was now driving on Admiral in the same direction as the truck and could see it in the distance just past California; she was adamant that she WOULD NOT help unless I met her stringent standards. She wouldn’t even take a cross-street in lieu of an address!
Again recently Ipulled into the parking lot of the Safeway on California & Admiral (the last time I’ll go there) and there was a crowd of youngsters just hanging around in the parking lot and drinking.
I went inside and called 911 and I could swear it was the same woman; sure enough, since I wasn’t “the owner” of the Safeway, I couldn’t have her ask an Officer to take a drive through the parking lot – even though my car was out there and exposed to harm or theft if the teens decided to go that route.
She told me to have the Manager at Safeway call it in; I went to the cashier on duty and asked told her the situation and asked her to have her Manager call; a minute later I walked by and she was still stocking shelves. I asked if she had talked to her Manager and she said no, that kind of thing happened all the time and she didn’t think it was warranted. I walked out and won’t be back to that store…but that’s another story.
The point is: Who are 911 Operators to block access to Police services if a citizen says he needs help?September 26, 2009 at 2:23 pm #677965
I had a problem with a repeat vandal/offender a few years ago…a guy that would continually key/knife my car. After repeated calls to the SPD they told me to quit “baiting” my car? I told them that I was just parking it in front of my apartment and they told me to park it elsewhere…THANKS!!! I set up a camera and caught the POS. Turns out that the culprit didn’t know me as I had assumed and was a menace in the neighborhood causing damage to many, many cars.September 26, 2009 at 5:58 pm #677966September 27, 2009 at 10:06 pm #677967
pro tip, the police don’t exist to “help you” they exist to apprehend those who have allegedly violated laws, so that the courts can prosecute them when appropriate. This is a common liberal misconception, about to commit a crime doesn’t count.September 27, 2009 at 10:09 pm #677968
RE Safeway story: unless the manager calls, who represents the occupant of the property, the alleged drinkers could have permission to be on the premises. Your a third party, this is like your neighbour trying to call the police on your house guests for trespassing, because they thought they might do something illegal, which is the same judgement you made.September 27, 2009 at 10:12 pm #677969
RE speeding van: They wanted an address for where the van was now, just saying you saw a speeding van, what did you expect them to do? send out an APB on white vans in the city? please explain what you thought they should have done.September 27, 2009 at 10:18 pm #677970October 3, 2009 at 1:34 pm #677971
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