The corner of Rainier Avenue South and South Henderson Street in Rainier Valley has been one of the worst – if not the worst – crime hot-spots in the city of Seattle for decades.
People who live in the neighborhood say over and over they need more police presence in the area.
“Where’s the police station?” asked Lola Otis, who has lived near this dangerous intersection for 40 years. “I’ve seen a lot of changes - none of them good.”
Deacon Earl Scott agrees. He’d like to see more uniformed officers more often in the area that Seattle Police Departments confirms is one of their major problem areas and a place where they devote a lot of time and attention.
“We see them here. Lots of times we don’t see them here until after the crime has been committed, naturally. I have watched several - say four or five - of these killings that have happened here,” said Scott.
But a new federal grant designed to calm things down at this corner and other areas of high juvenile crime around the city will take a different approach than the one championed by Earl and Lola.
The grant of nearly a million dollars from the U.S. Department of Justice to the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative will focus instead on helping local community members analyze new crime data, develop their own strategies and eventually implement those strategies.
Mariko Lockhart, director of the SYVPI, said those strategies could range from landscaping and lighting changes to job outreach programs and economic development to neighborhood mentoring for kids at risk.
She also said it’s important that local community stakeholders make the decisions about what should be done and how it should be done, which of course means they will also decide exactly how all that money, sent from Washington, D.C. and funneled through the City of Seattle, will be spent at the street level to fight street crime.
“The whole grant is written for non-arrest strategies” said Lockhart. “It’s for community-based interventions and we’ll be engaging members of the community to train them to analyze the data.”
The Seattle Police Department said they have increased their presence at the corner of Henderson and Rainier in recent years, with more foot and bicycle patrols and the periodic deployment of their “Mobile Precinct” at various places in the area. The department also fully supports the new grant and the way the money will be used.
Community strategies for dealing with specific areas and intersections like this one could be in place by the end of 2013. The money from the feds, $978,000, will support the initiatives for the next three years.