Today I did something I don’t do enough of, I got involved. I have always considered myself to be well versed on social issues. I’m a news junkie, very into politics, and a champion of many causes, but lately I’ve been talking the talk more than walking the walk. It is easy to get into a rut of complaining about the problems in the neighborhood instead of actively doing something about them. So I set my DVR for the Grey’s Anatomy season finale (in case the meeting ran long), and I went over to the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church for the monthly East Precinct Crime Prevention Coalition meeting to see what was being done in our neighborhood and what I could do.
There were roughly two dozen of us there including concerned neighbors, SPD, Sound Transit, and the local artist who is known for dancing with scarves in parades, most notably the Freemont Solstice Parade. It was more people than I expected as a newbie, but I got the impression that many of the people there were “regulars”.
One of the first topics tackled was the big Sound Transit project from John to Howell. According to Jeff Munnoch, the agency’s Community Outreach Specialist, demolition is set to begin in January and the project is expected to be done in 2016. Sound Transit is trying to make the buildings between John and Howell look “lived in” to distract crime. They are taking a unique approach to this by boarding up the buildings with a vinyl that they can project pictures on to look like art. Local artists are also decorating the empty store fronts. There is security around the area, but if you see anything suspicious you are asked to call the hotline at 398-5152.
Another thing I learned is that Bias (hate) Crimes are up in our area. They had been trending down, but in the last three and a half months there have been 14 cases of malicious harrassment. However, there is some help. Security members at local nightclubs are getting trained to help victims and properly report the crimes. So, if you are getting harrassed or feeling threatened and no cops are around you should be able to flag security at any club on Capitol Hill or in the CD and they can get you help.
Here are some of the other concerns your neighbors brought to police attention:
24th South of Union – Blatant drug deals happening, guns have been pulled.
Spring and 24th – Lots of traffic in and out of vacant houses in that area.
23rd and Union – In the last 18 months more fights have been happening in broad daylight, sometimes with weapons. More of the fights also involve women.
Cal Anderson Park area – The noise is getting so bad neighbors are starting to wear ear plugs at night. Lots of drug deals happening in the park.
24th and Cherry – Car window have been broken.
Near 23rd and Columbia – A garage in that area is believed to be the site of a chop shop. A lawsuit may be in the works to stop it.
Then it was the Precinct Captain Paul McDonagh’s turn to address the concerns. He said bike patrol officers have been spending more time in Cal Anderson Park, SPD has made three narcotic buy/busts in the precinct area, and officers are working an increase in strong arm robberies near Harborview and from Cherry to Rainier. In one of those robberies a gun was used, and so far one arrest has been made.
To end the meeting on a light note, our favorite scarf dancing artist quipping that if people just got “high” by dancing to their favorite music instead of doing drugs we wouldn’t have most of these problems. He suggested CCR, but I would have to vote for Pearl Jam. Either way I would say Rock On friend!
The next EPCPC meeting is on July 24th (June’s meeting is cancelled), and I would highly recommend you attend. It is a great way to voice your concerns and get involved.