EDITORIAL | Support police, so they can support us

It’s been another scary summer in Capitol Hill, and so far it doesn’t seem like relief will come any time soon. The weather forecast is calling for heat, so expect another rise in violence this weekend — it seems like a lot of people were going to anyway.

Blame the nightlife if you want, but last week a bicyclist was shot by a man at 9:30 a.m., before some of the Hill’s younger residents had even had their fifth cup of coffee.

No, Capitol Hill is just suffering through another summer of crime, when the warm weather, eclectic mix of activity and people, great parks and, yes, nightlife venues draw in negative outside elements and embolden those within. Now we also have to worry about people drugging people’s drinks.

It would be nice if there were more ways for residents to engage the police within the East Precinct — located right in the epicenter of Capitol Hill activity — to express their concerns; other than calling 911, of course. We suggest attending an East Precinct Advisory Committee meeting, but those only happen once a month, and not always.

Capitol Hill is one of 10 micro-communities the Seattle Police Department addresses through its Micro-Community Policing Plan, surveying residents to determine what issues are of greatest concern and then coming up with a set of measures to better address them, such as emphasis patrols.

Sadly, the time to weigh in on how these MCPPs are working out has passed. A Seattle University student research analyst was given a very tight timeline for completing a series of forums with micro-communities within the East Precinct, and it looks like she’ll meet it.

Only one couple showed up for the Capitol Hill forum, one for Miller Park, two for the Central Area/Squire Park and two for First Hill — not exactly a representative sample.

While this is supposed to be collaboration between criminal justice students at Seattle U and the SPD, it’s fair to say the police didn’t do its best to get the word out — at all. No, it fell to a bunch of college kids and an overreliance on social site Nextdoor, which gets a healthy amount of participation from homeowners, but not renters. Eighty percent of Capitol Hill’s residents are renters, so many probably missed the memo, or maybe the timing of the meeting was poor. They only ran an hour and many around 5 and 6 p.m. Not many people want to go straight from work to a forum.

Among all the precincts surveyed, the number two concern across the board was a lack of police capacity/presence. None showed up for these forums, but they have been understandably busy.

A helpful solution to engaging the communities in Seattle and building a better relationship with the police is simply more police; more police patrolling the streets and more police freed up to respond to the personalized issues of a neighborhood.

The city is trying to grow its police force, but one issue getting in the way is the need for more state funding to clear a backlog in law enforcement training. While there is capacity for 10 annual training courses, demand is for 18.

Rather than spend a whole column complaining, we’re going the way of support — support more police and fund better results.