‘This should be the safest block’: King County officials work to make 3rd Avenue safer

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SEATTLE -- King County officials heard disturbing stories Tuesday from several county employees who say they deal with criminal activity on a daily basis along 3rd Avenue on their way to  work at the county courthouse.

During King County Council’s Government Accountability and Oversight Committee meeting, several county employees talked about the fear they have walking in and out of work.

“This should be the safest street, the safest block in all of King County, and it’s the unsafest block,” said council member Pete Von Reichbaer.

Most recently, 3rd Avenue was the scene of a violent and random attack, where county employee Kevin McCabe, was punched several times on his way into work.

Employees are asking for change, and law enforcement says they are working to make that happen.

In response to the incident, the 3rd Avenue entrance to the courthouse has been closed, and law enforcement say they plan to add more of a presence.

“We’re going to get funding tomorrow that lets me start hiring people,” said King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknect. “We can have deputies outside the courthouse to help (the Seattle Police Department),” she added.

The King County Courthouse is in SPD’s district.

“The officers are doing their part in making the arrest happen. After that, there is a whole series of things that occur,” said Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best. “Many people have a stake on what happens after the fact, after the arrest occurs. And a lot of times those same people end up back on the streets."

In a statement, Senior Deputy Mayor of Seattle Michael Fong said, in part:

"In the courthouse area year to date, SPD has made 292 arrests, of 216 unique individuals. SPD has dispatched to 605 crimes so far this year to this immediate area and has dedicated over 5,766 service hours on this block, either proactively patrolling, assisting other agencies, or responding to calls for service. That is a 9% increase (491 hours) from 2018. Two of the top five most frequently dispatched blocks in the entire city are in the immediate courthouse area."

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