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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Business and Neighborhood Leaders Petition for More Cops, Whine About Civility

Posted by on Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 3:57 PM

This morning, a group of neighborhood and business leaders testified at the city council's Special Budget Committee that their neighborhoods are falling victim to "street disorder," while asking the council to reinstate $2.4 million in public safety funding—or 26 police officer positions—cut by Mayor Mike McGinn's budget proposal.

But the real point of their testimony, as well as a letter (.pdf) sent yesterday to the council and signed by 12 of business leaders—including Don Blakeney, Executive Director of the Chinatown-ID Business Improvement Area, Leslie "No Hobo" Smith, the Executive Director of the Alliance for Pioneer Square, and Michael "Bench Killer" Wells, Executive Director of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce—seemed to be more about pushing civility laws onto Seattle streets*.

For example, the letter acknowledges that "major crime is down citywide" but also argues that residents are "frustrated with rising criminal activity in our respective neighborhoods," (without, uh, citing any) hence the call for more cops. And not just for more cops—but more cops with broader arrest powers:

Many of us hear that officers feel as though they do not have the legal tools to enforce uncivil behavior and other quality-of-life crimes. While the City Attorney has openly declared drug prosecution to be a very low priority, open-air drug markets flourish.

Let's break down this paragraph into its various stupid parts for easy digestion, shall we?

*Aside from calling for more officers, the letter suggests SPD implement "hot spot" policing—which the department already does—and switching up how officers are distributed throughout the city. Again.

1) These people "hear" that officers don't have the "legal tools to enforce uncivil behavior," huh?

Seattle residents have been calling for more police accountability for the past year. A DOJ investigation into the police department's treatment of minority suspects is ongoing. Aside from the fact that you can't arrest away pervasive social problems like poverty and mental illness, now is a stupid time to suggest giving police more power to arrest people at their own discretion.

2) "While the City Attorney has openly declared drug prosecution to be a very low priority..."

City Attorney spokeswoman Kimberly Mills says, "That's simply not true on several levels. Initiative 75 was passed by the citizens of this city to make marijuana prosecution a very low priority, which is why Pete Holmes said that we aren’t going to prosecute simple possession. He has never openly declared it to be a low priority. Oh, and it's not our business to prosecute drug crimes—that’s the King County Prosecutor’s Office."

3)" drug markets flourish."

"Our narcotics team is as busy as ever," says SPD spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, who has no data to support the business group's claim that drug markets are flourishing (and they have yet to return my calls). He adds: "We'll be rolling out our Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program very, very soon."

4) "Creative legislative policy is needed here."

Whitcomb: "You can’t just look at someone on the street and say, 'I think they’re a drug dealer' and arrest them. You have to have evidence to support it. There have to be multiple cases, not just one observed hand to hand contact—unless they're advocating that we should do illegal searches? Violate peoples rights? In areas known for drug dealing, we have to collect enough info to give us probable cause to conduct a search."

5) And finally: "It is an unfair burden on businesses and residents to be forced to co-habit with blatant criminal activity."

Eeeeeks! You're sleeping on a bench in my neighborhood! You're infringing on the quality of my life and/or business!

The letter mentions a few great reasons to preserve funding for more officers—our population is growing, drugs are a pervasive problem in some neighborhoods, and despite great crime statistics overall, aggressive assault is on the rise in Seattle. But it doesn't coherently address those problems—instead it whines about civility, which the police department can't, and shouldn't, be policing.


Comments (17) RSS

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Baconcat 1
Police state? What could go wrong?
Posted by Baconcat on October 4, 2011 at 3:59 PM · Report this
Hey, maybe they could hire their own vigilante/goons to keep those undesirables from chasing away the shoppers and fine-diners! Remember, you only belong in their city to the extent that you're willing to spend money at their businesses.
Posted by maddogm13 on October 4, 2011 at 4:03 PM · Report this
Ziggity 3
Who's Whitcomb? You never identify that person.
Posted by Ziggity on October 4, 2011 at 4:06 PM · Report this
Vince 4
Aren't these the same people who don't want to pay taxes? If it's so important to them to hire so many more police, please pass the names of those rich fuckers who want to pay for them to the mayor's office. Yeah, what I thought.
Posted by Vince on October 4, 2011 at 4:09 PM · Report this
Cienna Madrid 5
@3, whoops! I cut that part. He's a spokesman for SPD--I'll add him back in...
Posted by Cienna Madrid on October 4, 2011 at 4:13 PM · Report this
Zebes 6
Barricaded streets, police checkpoints and a dress code. That's what we need.
Posted by Zebes on October 4, 2011 at 4:19 PM · Report this
Timrrr 7
Of course, the lack of police presence on the streets is also why the douchebags are running free & unabated on Capitol Hill every weekend.

When they attack an LGBT person will you "whine" too?
Posted by Timrrr on October 4, 2011 at 4:24 PM · Report this
corporate leaders what a police state where any undesirables can be arrested wo/ cause. shocker.
Posted by philosophy school dropout on October 4, 2011 at 4:24 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 9
If you're not a millionaire or billionaire, you're a serf.

After all, it's only when it impacts the former that it's important.
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 4, 2011 at 4:33 PM · Report this
Cui Bono 10
Geeeewhiiiizzz, imagine if the drugs sold at these "open-air markets" were legal! Then you wouldn't have people huddled together in the middle of the night, with weapons (which are VERY legal, but even the ATF is giving away illegally-obtained guns, so go figure), breaking the law. It is THAT fucking simple.
And while I don't care about your children, WHO ARE ALREADY DOING ILLEGAL DRUGS, legalizing drugs would mean those LEGAL entities wouldn't serve children. (Who would probably still illicitly obtain those legal drugs, just like they do booze, everyone's favorite home-wrecking, society-ruining murdering legal drug.)
Posted by Cui Bono on October 4, 2011 at 4:40 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 11
@10 just watch the PBS series Prohibition.

Says it all.
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 4, 2011 at 4:59 PM · Report this
Sigh. Well, at least this time you didn't call me a racist.
Posted by M. Wells on October 4, 2011 at 5:33 PM · Report this
What did NYC do to control their panhandlers? Perhaps it could work here without hiring more cops.
Posted by Rope a Dope on October 4, 2011 at 5:52 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 14
I know Cienna Madrid sounds like a complete asshole, being a shit to people working to do something to make the city better and spewing snark at anyone she doesn't understand, but in spite of all appearances, we should listen to her. She seems like a typical twentysomething jerkoff, true, but she's not! That in of itself is kind of amazing, don't you think? Yeah.

Pay close attention to Cienna and you will learn how to make the city a better place to live for everyone. She knows what she is talking about. She only seems like a douchebag. Don't be fooled by her obnoxious and ignorant demeanor. Really.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on October 4, 2011 at 5:55 PM · Report this
KittenKoder 15
Excellent post, Cienna.

Again, everyone pay attention now, it needs to be repeated: Crime is down. It's been on a downward trend for a long time. Violent crimes are falling, even theft is falling. Has been since the sales of video games have gone up (no direct correlation but an interesting trend there). "Civility" is really subjective, to many these days it's "minding your own business" more than smiling and such, so to those morons whining about the small decrease in police force, even the police don't see an issue with it, enough said. As for the homeless, where would you rather they go? Here's an idea, open up your unused basement spaces for shelters, one building owner did and it's done a great job at keeping some off the streets at night. Got an empty room, rent it out to someone for cheap instead of raising rental prices so high only a few people can afford it. Condos, many empty ones in Seattle, lower those prices to something affordable. Really, it's not rocket science.
Posted by KittenKoder on October 4, 2011 at 6:30 PM · Report this
Same chamber of commerce SOBs that push for lower taxes. Now because a certain sort of clientele in a certain sort of business ($$$) is put off, we're supposed to play the violins and screw the homeless to spare funds for hiring official thugs. (=O=)
Posted by kinaidos on October 4, 2011 at 7:16 PM · Report this
Three of my friends have been assaulted in the last month. All, like myself, are restaurant workers who leave work late. I never see any cops at that time of night. Not a crazy Nazi here. Just saying my opinions of this issue have been altered by these events.
Posted by gregc on October 5, 2011 at 8:27 AM · Report this

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