North Seattle residents voice concern about crime during town hall meeting

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SEATTLE - Public safety remains in the top of mind for people who live in Seattle. On Monday night, some who live in North Seattle voiced their concerns about crime during a town hall meeting at Bitter Lake Community Center.

For some, prostitution continues to be a problem.

“It breaks my heart to see the young girls out there at seven in the morning, especially about a month ago when it was 40 degrees out,” said Captain Eric Sano of the Seattle Police Department’s North Precinct. “My goal is to get out there to work with OPS, our high risk victim’s unit, and get the men that are buying these women for sex and then go after the pimps who are exploiting these women.”

Seattle police say they work with Operation for Prostitution Survivors, or OPS, to give the women a better life.

But the main topic revolved around homelessness, particular RVs parked for extended periods of time, and unsanctioned camps.

“I want our parks, our sidewalks where people are walking where they may be ADA issues to be clear. I would love to get those out quickly. But we have to follow the law and we have to work with what's established case law and offer these people services,” said Sano.

Mayor Jenny Durkan touted enhanced shelters as something that’s working to get people into homes.

"The best way we get encampments from re-establishing is to get people in housing,” said Durkan.

Assistant Chief Eric Greening said planned emphasis patrols in seven Seattle neighborhoods will help.

“We’ll have enhanced police staffing, and a little bit faster track on the services the other departments can bring in,” he said.

And while city and police officials say they’re making headway, some said the town hall didn’t shed any light on what’s being done to fight crime.

“They saying the same thing as they always say. It’s a PR move,” said Janice Richardson.

Richardson said she has tried helping women get out of the prostitute life, but the city needs to do more.

“We need proper services,” she said. “ I want them to hire non-profits that are giving the proper services. I want honesty.”

Others said the drug problem was not sufficiently addressed.

“I don’t think putting people in houses is actually what is needed. I don’t hear enough about the drug problem. The people that I see on the streets, putting them in a house is just going to give them another place to use,” said Kelly Morphis.

Seattle Police said during the town hall that they are also considering opening a second precinct in District 5 to help in response times and reduce crime.

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