Last month the city and the Seattle Neighborhood Group teamed up to distribute 1,800 surveys to a random sample of households in the Central District, with a goal of gauging people’s perception of crime in the neighborhood. City leaders shared the preliminary results of the survey at the dual meeting of the East Precinct Crime Prevention Coalition and African American Advisory Council earlier tonight, showing that street drug use and drug dealing top the list of people’s concerns, even higher than violent crimes and burglaries.
The surveys were designed to provide a baseline of neighborhood sentiment as part of the new Drug Market Initiative that is being spearheaded by SPD Captain Paul McDonagh and deputy prosecutor Tienny Milnor. They’ve been out gathering neighborhood support for the plan that would provide constructive alternatives for low-level street dealers who are picked up, using a combination of social services and community involvement to get them off the street and on a more productive path in life.
Survey participants were asked to provide a rating for various category of crimes, designating them major, moderate, or less serious. Out of the 275 surveys that have been received so far, 62% labeled street drug use as a major problem, higher than any other category of crime. 54% identified street dealing as a major problem, second highest in the group. Violent gun crimes came in third at 53%.
Additionally, 87% of survey respondents said that they have seen evidence of drug dealing within the last year. But of those, only 49% reported the incident to police.
So far the results of the survey appear to back up city official’s plans for providing a new experimental focus on the local drug problem. But they stress that the key to making it work is stronger and sustained involvement of other people throughout the community. They’re actively seeking people who would want to help out and become a part of the community side of the equation. If you’re interested in participating, contact Sita Das at the Seattle Neighborhood Group at [email protected] or 206-323-9666.