Mayor Mike McGinn announced today that he's adding $400,000 to the Seattle Police Department's budget to pay for additional police patrols around the city—a total of about 6,000 officer hours, or the equivalent of about six to eight full-time police officers citywide through the end of the year.
The money will come out of the city's general-fund budget, which, McGinn said, has benefited from higher-than-expected revenues this year. (The mayor and city council will start the official process of crafting a 2014 budget in September).
The new officer hours will be made up primarily of overtime payments to existing officers, McGinn said, because it takes a long time to hire and train additional officers. McGinn said that "by next summer at this time, we expect to have 30 more officers on the force."It's pretty weird for the same council members who wanted McGinn and SPD to be more conciliatory during negotiations with the Justice Department to argue now that the mayor needs to be tougher and, well, less conciliatory.
SPD will focus the extra officer hours on so-called "hot spots" throughout the city's five police precints, including places like Rainier and Henderson, the Ave in the U District, and Alki Beach.
Earlier today, three city council members wrote a blog post blasting McGinn for ignoring what they called the "reality" of increasing crime downtown.
Citing statistics that they said show crime is increasing downtown, council members Sally Clark, Tim Burgess, and Bruce Harrell wrote, "The notion that we must tolerate some level of crime is misguided. Whatever steps we take moving forward, we must start from the premise that crime on our streets can always be prevented or reduced."
McGinn responded: "I think it’s very dangerous to focus just on citywide or block-wide statistics. They are an important advisory and an important tool … but if you have been a victim of a crime, as far as you are concerned, it’s 100 percent crime."
(To editorialize briefly: It's pretty weird for the same council members who wanted McGinn and SPD to be more conciliatory during negotiations with the Justice Department to argue now that the mayor needs to be tougher and, well, less conciliatory.)
Contacted after the mayor's press conference, Downtown Seattle Association president Kate Joncas called today's announcement "a great first step.
"The first thing you have to do is admit there is a problem. ... We’re becoming more of a residential neighborhood downtown. There are more people on the street at all hours of the day. Things that used to happen when the street was vacant and there was no one there to see—now there's someone to see it."