SEATTLE - It’s not every day you see Mayor Jenny Durkan walking the streets of Seattle with an entourage of different department heads.
On Tuesday, several Capitol Hill residents and business owners took the mayor’s visit as an avenue for change.
“One man and two women I know have gotten pulled in there and assaulted,” said one woman.
The concerned woman says assaults are happening in a parking lot along Pine Street.
And the new police emphasis in Capitol Hill she hopes is the answer.
Durkan ordered extra patrols in seven neighborhoods in early May, places like the downtown core, Pioneer Square, South Park, Georgetown, Sodo, Fremont and Ballard.
Seattle residents and business owners have been voicing concerns over rampant property crime and many random assaults. Frustration over public safety has led to several public meetings recently and criticism over the city’s handling of the problem.
On Tuesday, the city announced they are adding three more areas for extra patrols including Capitol Hill, Golden Gardens and Alki Beach. It is a part of the city’s regular summer emphasis patrols.
“Crime is up and particularly types of crimes are up in certain neighborhoods that’s why we are doing the seven neighborhoods,” Durkan said.
The city says one result they have noticed since the launch of the emphasis patrols is fewer 911 calls.
“The officers are right there so they don’t need to call 911, they can flag the officers down and speak to them,” Deputy Chief Marc Garth Green said.
SPD says it’s also leading to more contacts with people in crisis.
“We are able to engage pretty quickly do they need some type of mental health, some kind of outreach, housing,” Green said.
Moving forward, the city says they will be dealing with some tents in public places differently.
“For the larger encampments we need 72 hours,” Durkan said.
By law, they have to give 72-hour notice before clearing an encampment but the city says when it comes to tents posing a safety hazard in public places, they plan to move those more quickly.
“We will be looking to move those quicker than the 72 hours, again enforcement of citing people arresting people is going to be the very last resort,” Garth Green said.
The extra patrols in the seven neighborhoods were initially reported to last for 30 days. Those 30 days will be over at the end of this week.
Durkan says they will evaluate data in June and will continue efforts in those seven neighborhoods where they are needed the most.
The emphasis patrols also included various departments including Seattle City Light, Seattle Public Utilities and Parks and Recreation. Trash cleanup, graffiti removal, and street lighting are a part of the initiative to improve public safety.