Community Post

Crime Survey Stats: Drugs Top Concern

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.

0 thoughts on “Crime Survey Stats: Drugs Top Concern

  1. if they aren’t using this solely to justify more aggressive, and effective, policing, than it’s a colossal waste of time and money. i could have told most of what they found, but again, if used to back up their new tactics, then great.

  2. Why did they need surveys to find that out?! Look at our police scanner here, every time there are points on the map about people selling/buying drugs. Obviously it’s a problem! “Researching” the obvious is a waste of money.

  3. I think it’s great that the SPD is approaching the problem of drug addiction with compassion, making sure that people who are using and dealing small amounts of drugs are diverted to programs that might get them actual help rather than locking them up on the public dime. I understand why people feel like this survey is a waste of money because it came to a conclusion that most people would consider pretty obvious, however I think it’s important for SPD to continually check in with communities in this manner, and I doubt that it actually cost very much money to conduct this survey.

    I also think it’s sad that this issue in our community continues to be addressed primarily through the criminal justice system. Using a tool like the criminal justice system to combat the issue of drug addiction is like using a hammer to cut a two-by-four. It just doesn’t make sense. Drug addiction is a public health issue, and it needs to be treated as such. The laws that criminalize drug addiction need to be changed.

  4. Just want to chime in on the cost issue – evidently is was very low. The surveys were distributed by hand by people at the Seattle Neighborhood Group, and city staff is getting free assistance from a national group to crunch the data

  5. “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” Does anyone else find it curious that concerns about drug crime topped these survey results when the survey was part of a Drug Initiative? Questionnaires can be worded in such a way as to make it more likely that you get the answers you want. Frankly, I am much more concerned about violence and the recent increase in home invasions/break-ins in the CD. I wonder if the survey questions are available for inspection somewhere?

  6. I’m curious as to whether any CDN readers were surveyed. Were you? Given Scott’s data-crunching from last fall, there are about 26,000 residents in the CD. Assuming there are about 18,000 households, each of our households should have had about a 1 in 10 chance of answering.

  7. The boundaries of the study were confined to an area around 23rd, from 18th to 30th Avenues, and Pine to Dearborn. City officials estimate that there were 4000 households within those boundaries.

  8. While I agree with most of the above comments, I would like to remind everyone that those stats gathered in the surveys are a very important tool in the struggle to get more money, attention, and (hopefully) new approaches for this problem. I would bet that at least some of those burglaries/robberies that have been plaguing us have a direct line back to drugs. And, while I agree that it’s obvious that drug calls take up a lot of SPD’s time, having community survey numbers (even if they’re flawed) is gold in the chase after grants and gov’t prioritization. I’m quite impressed that these folks figured out how to get it done with limited resources.