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‘We know them, they know us’: An inside look at community-based policing in Seattle

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SEATTLE – Emphasis patrols, a community-based policing method that focuses on deterring low-level crimes, have played an active role in the Seattle Police Department for decades. But how do they work?

Q13 News went on a ride-along with Seattle Police in the SoDo neighborhood during one of their recent high-visibility emphasis patrols.

“We have seen a reduction in crime in this area, so I absolutely believe they are effective, and I think the numbers reflect that,” said Detective Nick Kartes.

Police are trained to make contact with people in distress, offer services and referrals, and also give people warnings and citations.

Since April, the mayor and police chief have stepped up the patrols in seven Seattle neighborhoods. This was in response to community feedback and the department’s data analysis that shows crime reduction.

“You can see our interaction that we have with the public. We know them, they know us. We are taking enforcement action that otherwise wouldn’t take place necessarily,” said Detective Kartes.

During the ride along, we checked in with a man who's been well-known to Detective Brandon Eggers for the past four years.

The detectives helped him up from the ground, then got him a muffin from a nearby convenience store.

“To me I feel like if I cite him, I’m not doing him a favor,” said Detective Eggers. “He’s coherent, he just has a bad hip. He’s always had a bad hip. People may mistake that as, 'Oh, he’s just intoxicated.'”

Mayor Jenny Durkan has set aside $847,000 in the 2020 budget to continue community-based emphasis patrols at the same level as 2019.

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