Public Safety Update
Gunshot Locator System: There are few things more disturbing than gunfire and gun violence in District 2. We are working closely with the Mayor's office and SPD on implementing an Acoustic Gunshot Locator System at Rainier and Henderson. An Acoustic Gunshot Locator System detects the exact location where guns are fired and law enforcement authorities are immediately notified and dispatched to the area. The system will be paired with a video camera that is only activated when a gunshot is detected to help authorities investigate the crime. At almost every community meeting where I have discussed installing an acoustic gunshot locator system, I have received overwhelming positive feedback. I want to make it crystal clear we will work thoroughly with privacy advocates on the operational and data management protocols to ensure the public's privacy and civil liberties are protected.
Police Staffing and Crime Data Update: At the end of April, the City and Mayor Murray announced a plan to add an additional 100 police officers in our hiring plan to get to a net total of 200 new officers from 2014 to 2020. As Public Safety chair from 2012-2015, I worked to initiate the hiring of 120 police officers beginning in 2012. For the 2016 year, we funded 1404 police officers, the highest ever for the police department. From 2014 to 2017, we will reach 120 total new officers—a record hiring pace. Remember, the period of time to translate budget action to real officers on the street does take significant time. It takes approximately 16 months for a new recruit to complete basic training, advanced training, field training and probation. The City is growing rapidly and we need to continue hiring more officers. Approximately 100 officers account for an ongoing cost of $15 million per year. We are also making improvements to our 911 call center. Calls have increased by 13% since 2010 and it is continually trending upwards. We are proposing to hire an additional 40 staff for 911 over the next 3 years. Additional technology upgrades are also being made at the 911 call center to improve responsiveness. The City is hearing you loudly and clearly about adding more police and a better 911 call center.
In our efforts to be more transparent and improve access to crime data, please look at the new Crime Dashboard. You can now easily view major crimes broken down by year, precinct, and neighborhood. It will always be a battle to stay in front of public safety with short term solutions and long term solutions and I will never be satisfied with the state of public safety. However, I want to point to the major crime data. At the end of 2015, major crimes were down 12% compared to the average total from 2010-2014. When comparing 2015 to 2014, major crimes went down by 21%. If you look at the line graphs above, major crimes in the first four months are lower than 2015. While the data points to lower major crimes, I know the perception is sometimes different in our neighborhoods. In the first quarter of this year, I have met with many groups in District 2 to discuss built environment improvements. I am open to any ideas the neighborhood would like to implement for the built environment—send those my way and I will coordinate with the departments to make those changes.
Community Building: In an effort to improve community relations, the South Precinct hosted the first annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament, joining area youth with officers. I was proud to help sponsor this event. It was a tremendous success and was held last Friday, May 13th at the Rainier Beach Community Center. I want to thank our local youth for participating, the Seattle Police Department, Parks Department, Dwane Chappelle (Director for the Department of Education and Early Learning), Talia Walton, Slick Watts, Detective Cookie, Sina Walton, Monica Osborn, and all the community sponsors. I look forward to making it even bigger next year!
Enhanced 911: With my background on public safety and technology, I was selected to be on the leadership group for the King County E-911 Strategic Planning Committee. The Enhanced 911 (E911) system provides emergency dispatch services to over two million county residents and is funded by excise taxes paid by all telephone customers. Throughout King County, the more than 1.7 million calls received annually are routed to the King County Enhanced 911 office or the 12 emergency dispatch centers called Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs). Seventy-seven police and fire agencies are part of this system. One aspect of the strategic planning is to implement Next-Generation 911—allowing the public to transmit text, images, video and data to the PSAPs. The committee is tasked with developing a 10-year technology investment strategy; developing a 10-year sustainable financial plan; and defining an ongoing decision-making and governance structure for the regional E-911 system.