On September 16 the GSBA Public Policy Task Force convened a meeting of LGBT nonprofit leaders and the Seattle Police Department to discuss concerns over the rising violence and harassment in Capitol Hill and other neighborhoods. Interim Chief Jim Pugel, East Precinct Acting Captain Ron Rasmussen and Matthew York of the City Attorney’s Office discussed crime, police responses, reporting incidents and partnering with communities to make neighborhoods safer with representatives from several local LGBT organizations.
Chief Pugel shared information about how bias crimes are reported and how they may be added on as a sentencing enhancement. While SPD’s statistics do not show an increase in crime at the moment, and in fact violent crime within the City has decreased markedly since the 1990s, Chief Pugel acknowledged the concerns of the community and said that the SPD needs to continue to focus on crime prevention and public safety when people in the City feel unsafe.
What are the next steps for our community and SPD to work together? Chief Pugel encouraged the recreation of a group of businesses to meet to discuss their concerns with one another and with the SPD. It is important for neighborhoods to work with the Police Department, the City and King County health services to addressed needed changes to moderate behavior. Education, as always, is an important step – the knowledge of when to call 911 was one particular issue that was repeatedly addressed. We need to share information and resources on the programs existing within our own communities, such as the Northwest Network’s Voices in Power Program and Social Outreach Seattle’s Block Watch program. Acting Captain Rasmussen added that the East Precinct initiated a new foot beat around the Capitol Hill business district focusing on contacting business owners to find out what they are seeing, making sure that the officers are answering their questions, and building relationships between the shops and the beat officers.
GSBA will continue the dialog with its LGBT nonprofit partners, the SPD and City Attorney’s Office to work on avenues for community education and engagement in addressing heightening awareness and public safety in our community.