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Belltown Safety Forum Recap — Q & A and Wrapping Up

So I finally get to finish this up and finish packing for my vacation. The session ended with questions and answers. I stayed for about 10 of them, so here are some highlights:

  • What can be done about motorcycle noise?
    SPD has plans to identify problem areas and place officers to make stops. I suppose this sounds like speed traps, but I guess it’s more like sound traps. Either way, I would watch out if you happen to have a motorcycle and you happen to be on Western and you happen to hate people that like to sleep. Council members are working on legislation that would make this issue more enforceable as well. If you care about this, talk to your council members and see this through.
  • Can the judiciary issue more SODA orders in Belltown?
    We just have to ask for them. Bug the prosecutors and make sure this recommendation makes its way into the court process.
  • Why is there not more police action on 3rd through 4th between Blanchard and Bell?
    The community needs to make it an issue. Read back to the first post where Thomas from South Seattle taught us how to use the right channels to log incidents and create trends in the data. We can ask police to do buy busts and get involved in helping them do their jobs.
  • How can we ensure officers in neighborhoods are effective?
    I’m not sure what the question really was, and I’m even less sure what the answer was addressing. However, this was a good time to note that priority calls are generally responded to within 7 minutes. Officers have to look at lots of data to figure out how they’re doing and how to render the best services. We can help them by helping supply the data. Check out SPD’s web site to find some alleged email form to send comments and so on.
  • Who are the Belltown drug buyers?
    The demand is created by people from all over Seattle. Sgt. Yoon referred to them as ‘clucks’, which pays homage to the way a potential buyer loiters around and waits for a dealer to show up. Then they ‘trip’ around the block while a dealer amidst a gang of other hoodlums follows the prospective buyer. Fascinating, right? I suppose the real answer is they can be both Belltown residents and outsiders.
  • Why are there more parking enforcement officers than bike officers?
    Unless I’m wrong, SPD seemed to openly admit that this unit is good for revenue generation and helps support the rest of the police force. If you have more complaints, talk to the police chief…or learn to read a sign and park better.
  • Can loitering be enforced?
    Loitering has become an overloaded term apparently. The enforceable term is “Drug Traffic Loitering” and that is what Sgt. Yoon and his Anti-Crime unit will sometimes use as a means to put away the bad guys.
  • Why does 911 take a long time sometimes?
    The 911 system seems to be a labyrinth of rules, metrics, and priorities. I suppose this makes sense if you are trying to appropriately distribute a limited resource across the needs of a city. Calls are prioritized based on facts and information provided by the caller at the time of the call. Callers should answer questions clearly and give details. This information is important because it is what is relayed to the officers so they know how to respond and do their jobs when they get to the scene.
    There are some low-priority calls that are tougher to deal with. If a caller remains anonymous and won’t actually meet with the officer on the scene, that’s a little tougher to prioritize over a different kind of call. Anonymous and non-emergency calls should go to 206-625-5011
  • Woe is me, I got hung up on once…what do I do?
    These are reports that SPD needs to know about so they can evaluate performance, identify and fix problems, and apply training where necessary. Again, SPD seems very data-driven, and they can’t act unless we submit the reports and supply the data.
  • Can we get more trash cans?
    Council member Sally Clark showed up and talked about her plans to keep our streets clean. She described to us the solar-powered Big Belly trash cans which eat up your garbage and compact it on the spot. Sally said some cool stuff, and she is always fun to listen to. I’m not exactly sure how she answered the question, but kudos to her for getting engaged and taking time out to talk to us.
  • How can decide what business get into Belltown? And which ones should leave?
    Again, Council member Sally spoke up to share we can work to invite businesses into Belltown and we can also ask them to leave. We can get involved in more neighborhood walks and get to know the business owners and monitor the health of our neighborhood.

Favorite quotes from the evening:

  • “If we got this many people on a BCOP walk…holy crap!!”–Brett Paulson reflecting on the large number of people that showed up.
  • “Look normal and arrest bad guys”–Sgt. Yoon on his Anti-Drug unit
  • “Clucks”–Sgt. Yoon, describing drug buyers (I just like this term a lot)

My Takeaways
So the public infrastructure is there to deal with the problem and the clear and resounding message is that we as a community need to gather together and be a part of the solution. Belltown actually needs to identify itself as a group of neighbors that cares about a peaceful, livable neighborhood. We need to engage in the community and be involved. We need to support our police–rather than bitch and moan on The Stranger comment boards (much love to The Stranger…I’m just saying talk doesn’t always get you that far)–and supply the data they need.

So here are some practical ways to do that:

  • Go on a BCOP night walk
  • Go to the monthly BCC meetings
  • Find one of the many cause-oriented groups in Belltown and start engaging. Volunteer. Spend time outside of your condo or apartment. Get involved. I like PBR and I’ve been doing that for a while now. You can try Sustainable Belltown, BCOPs, or a myriad of other groups.
  • Find out who your representatives, public officials, and council members are. Meet them. It’s cool when they recognize you in random places. It also means they should listen to you more.
  • Figure out how to communicate and supply information up to our public officials. Maybe this means identifying somebody in Belltown who would be comfortable to step up and be a communication funnel for the community.
  • Get to know your neighbors. The less strangers there are, the easier it is to know when something sketchy is coming up.

Here at Belltown People, we have some grandiose ideas for how we can bring our neighborhood together to be more unified and more engaged. We certainly don’t have it figured out yet, but we’re jazzed about trying. Hopefully the momentum from the last few weeks gets you excited too.

OK I’M DONE WRITING AND I’M GETTING A NOSEBLEED FROM STANDING ON MY SOAPBOX.

I hope that wasn’t too boring. I’m headed to Colorado for the weekend. Take care, Belltown.