SEATTLE – While Seattle City Councilmembers turn the screws on the Seattle Police following a recent surge in violence, the department says it is gaining ground in the fight against crime in the south side.
The South Precinct, typically associated with the area around Rainier Avenue South, has been a big focus of SPD’s new “Violence Prevention Emphasis Patrols.” But Lt. John Hayes said police are making progress in the fight against crime, not just by patrolling, but by establishing more personal relationships with the people who live in the area.
“We try to educate them and their friends around them,” he said. “We want to make it easier for them to call us and prevent an incident from taking place.”
Hayes said it’s that kind of strategy that helped them gather enough information from the youth in the area to arrest Troy D. Sanders. Sanders, 26, is suspected in the May 16 shooting death of Courtney Taylor, 31, in a Jack in the Box Parking lot along Rainier Avenue South.
Officers report the area was so hostile that it was difficult to gather information at the scene.
“Behind the scenes, the community dialogue is getting better,” said Hayes.
Pat Murakami, President of the South Seattle Crime Prevention Council, has been proactive by organizing community walks and street clean ups, and believes property crime is less, but she wants to see more.
"This is encouraging, but now we need to work on the extremely violent crime,” she said. “All of these shootings are people that know each other.”
The most recent statistics provided by the Seattle Police Department show crime is up compared to last year. Through March of this year, 852 violent crimes have been reported compared to 798 last year.