Living in an urban and historically neglected area has its downsides, and one of the big ones we see is the street-level drug business and the various other property and violent crimes that go with it. Luckily, we have a couple of tools available to help deal with the problem. Here’s some tips I’ve accumulated in the 10 years I’ve lived in Seattle:
1. Any time you see street dealing, use, or other illegal activity, report it to 911. Don’t worry if the issue isn’t a life or death situation. When they answer, immediately tell them what kind of crime you’re reporting. If they’re busy with other stuff, they’ll tell you so. Be sure and have good descriptions of the perpetrators, vehicles involved, license plates, etc.
2. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate police response. The East Precinct is understaffed, and they may have more pressing matters to attend to. But know that all of the crime reports go into a database and can help drive a refocusing of resources to the places they need to be.
3. If there’s an abandoned car that’s serving as a hangout or pickup point, report it to the city for towing.
4. If there’s a specific property that has a lot of suspicious traffic, you can file a Narcotics Activity Report (NAR) that will get special attention from the police force. Start with calling the non-emergency number at 206-625-5011 and follow the annoying phone tree down until you get to the “report a crime that occurred within Seattle” choice. When you reach an operator tell them you want to file a Narcotics Activity Report. You’ll need to have the specific address of the property, descriptions of suspects, vehicles involved, etc. The more information you give them the better chance they’ll have of clearing up the problem. And be sure to leave your contact number because the detectives may need to call you back and get more information.
Several years ago there was a rental house about a block from me that had a long history of drug problems. Neighbors had tried to work with the landlord several times to clean things up without success, and eventually filed a NAR against the property. Although it took several months, eventually a combination of official warnings and some drug busts at the location got the owner to pay attention and the problematic tenants were kicked out. Soon after the property was sold and there’s now a $1,000,000 house sitting on the property.
My best advice is to be persistent and patient. Although the system is completely overburdened, the squeaky wheels eventually get some grease. And be sure to get your neighbors involved too – there’s definitely power in numbers.
Have any tips that have worked for you? Leave a comment below.