While addressing public safety issues in the downtown core — Third Avenue specifically — is a top priority at the moment, Andrew Myerberg, Seattle’s director of public safety, assures residents local neighborhoods won’t be forgotten. 
Myerberg spoke with the Queen Anne Community Council Public Safety Committee last week, sharing his top priorities for his new position. Mayor Bruce Harrell created the director of public safety position and hired Myerberg, previously the Office of Police Accountability director, to be part of his administration when he took over. Among Myerberg’s duties for the city are developing new models of public safety, working collaboratively with the Seattle police and fire departments and helping guide oversight and reform efforts, according to a press release.
“It’s positive, no matter what, and it’s a good thing,” Myerberg said. “It’s been very interesting work thus far, and it’s a lot of work.”
Myerberg told the Public Safety Committee and community members last week that one of the main functions of his job is developing a procedure for public safety and police response plan unique to each neighborhood that addresses their needs.
Another function is implementing alternative policing programs, to best serve Seattle, which would dedicate a core number of Seattle police officers to serious and violent crime, while creating offshoots to address other issues, such as mental health calls. Myerberg said one of the things he’ll be considering is programs that will ensure quicker response times from the police department. 
Another focus will be rebuilding Seattle police officer numbers, which he said are woefully inadequate, and negotiating contracts with Seattle’s public safety unions.
“It’s just bringing everything together through collective bargaining,” Myerberg said. 
He said the city ideally needs another 400 or more patrol officers to “upstaff the department” but could find some relief in the form of community service officers who would have limited duties but would, nevertheless, lessen some of the strain on the department and benefit neighborhoods.
Myerberg said he anticipates community partnerships with different stakeholders will also be key to improving key issues in the city, such as homelessness and drug addiction. 
He said currently the city doesn’t have enough services for individuals experiencing significant problems, such as mental illness and drug addiction, which means working closely with programs already in place to help shore up the gaps. 
“As you all know, we cannot arrest our way out of these public safety issues that we are facing,” Myerberg said. “... We need to have a more innovative way to approach crime and to approach people and meet them where they’re at. ... The reality is we are going to try a number of strategies to increase public safety, and some will work and some will not work.”
He stressed, however, that he doesn’t want to put any plan or program in place unless he’s certain it is the right course of action to take. He said Harrell is committed to improving public safety in the city, but “there are a lot of things that we need to rectify.” 
Myerberg said he understands residents’ frustrations and doesn’t begrudge them those feelings.
“I can commit to you that things are going to be different,” he said. “We have to help people first, but if we can’t, then we have to hold them accountable.”
He also stressed that residents should call 911 when appropriate because those calls will be useful when creating public safety plans unique to specific neighborhoods.
“Please, please, please, don’t get frustrated and not call 911,” he said.