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SPD pressured to do more to protect people downtown

SEATTLE — Seattle police say violent crime in the downtown core is down big-time from the same period last year.

11111“The good news is we’re one of two precincts with double-digit reductions in crime, including violent crime,” Seattle Police Capt. Jim Dermody said.

That may be true but, all of the people we talked with say they don’t always feel safe there.

“It’s become a lot worse than it used to be,” downtown resident Jason Smith said.

“I think you have to be careful when it’s early in the morning or late at night,” downtown worker Ellyce Shulman said.

“It depends on the day. Some days it’s worse. Some days are better than others.  I’d say later in the week is definitely worse than the beginning of the week and later in the afternoon is definitely worse than early morning,” downtown worker Megan Moilanen said.

That is an analysis of crime, danger and insecurity steeped in fear, fear that one could easily become a victim on downtown streets and precautions need to be taken.

“After yesterday’s incident I have debated getting some mace or pepper spray. But I just don’t make eye contact with anyone that seem they might be threatening,” Moilanen said.

The problems are well-documented and some caught on surveillance video.

A man was attacked in an alley, knocked out cold and robbed.

A woman had her cell phone stolen. It’s a crime happening so often, it has a name; Apple picking.

Most recently a man exposed himself himself on a Metro bus.

“In the morning I don’t take the bus anymore because walking down Pine really early is just … I’ve had some bad experiences,” Shulman said.

“There’s a lot more people out at night.  Living downtown you just hear it; people screaming, gunshots all the time,” Smith said.

One day after a King County Metro bus driver was shot in the face, Third Avenue was packed with police and deputies, even Homeland Security agents out in force trying to keep the peace.

Neighbors would like to see that presence all the time and a safer downtown experience for locals and tourists alike.

“I grew up here so I know what it used to be like and I know what it’s like now and it’s not someplace you want to take your kids like right down here, Westlake. They just put a kid’s park in there and I wouldn’t take my kids there,” Smith said.

Mayor Mike McGinn says cleaning up downtown is a work in progress

“We are deploying officers to the places they’re needed most based upon where the data is and that includes a greater presence in these areas; Third Avenue, Westlake Park, other downtown areas,” McGinn said.

Moreover, more help is on the way. SPD is in the process of hiring 30 new officers.

They should be trained and on the street to protect and serve by next summer.

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