On Thursday, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced a “surge” of sorts to combat street crime in the city.
McGinn is directing $400,000 from the city’s budget for additional overtime hours for Seattle police. Extra patrols will begin immediately.
“To community members who are concerned about crime, we say we hear them,” said McGinn at a Thursday afternoon press conference.
This week’s shooting of a Metro bus driver in downtown Seattle is driving a renewed debate over how to handle violence in the city. Members of the city council and the city’s business community have been openly critical of McGinn for not addressing the issue head-on.
McGinn is running a hotly contested race for reelection in November. Flanked by community leaders from hard hit neighborhoods, McGinn announced the additional money to put more patrols on the streets. He said officers will be using special software to identify and even predict where violent crime will happen in “hot spots” across every Seattle neighborhood.
“Where the data shows us crime is the worst, we will have violence emphasis patrols that can go where the data says they're needed the most,” the mayor said.
The plan isn’t new. It is an extension through January of a current surge on city streets that has been in place since May.
The $400,000 comes from additional revenue that turned up as McGinn was looking at the upcoming budget. He said no cuts will be made to fund the initiative. The money will allow for about 6,000 more man hours on the streets. That's the equivalent 6 to 8 more officers per day through the end of the year.
The city will also be leaving the lights on 24 hours a day at Capitol Hill trouble spot, Cal Anderson Park. The Downtown Seattle Association, which has been very vocal in its criticism of the mayor for his handling of the crime situation, calls the move a "good first step," but much more needs to be done.