The Ballard District Council recently sent a letter to the Seattle Police Department making their case for a stronger police presence in our neighborhood. According to KOMO News, SPD says that they’d love to have more police everywhere, but that it’s not possible to increase the presence in Ballard.
In the letter to SPD, the council complains that the existing police services are not meeting current demand, and that slow response times “fuel the fire of threatening situations.”
The Seattle Police Department needs to provide faster response time to 911 incident calls. There are several examples of slow response times that have prolonged dangerous and life-threatening situations:
At the Healthcare for the Homeless Clinic located at St. Luke’s church this spring, it took over 45 minutes for police to respond to an emergency call about a threatening man with a knife. He was finally arrested and taken away, but the Priest had to step in to assist staff.
In early July, parents with two young children in Salmon Bay Park called 911 to report that a young man tried to seize two children in the playground area. Despite several calls to 9ll from parents, the police did not arrive for an hour. By the time Police arrived the young man had left the park and was not apprehended.
The Ballard Food Bank routinely experiences long waits of more than 30 minutes to respond to emergency calls of threats of violence.
The letter also points to the rapidly increasing population in Ballard, explaining that by the Comprehensive Land Use Plan update in 2014, residential units in Ballard could exceed growth by 300 percent of the targeted growth. They’re asking that the SPD assign foot beat police officers to patrol around parks, such as the Ballard Commons Park. The letter points out that there have been four alcohol-related deaths and several heroin overdoses in the park area just the last several months.
The council is also asking that SPD deploys regular bike patrols in the neighborhood with a focus on the central Ballard core.
While we appreciate there are city-wide needs for police resources, we cannot deny the facts that Ballard is growing at incredible speed, crime is on the increase in Ballard, police response times are too slow and existing resources are spread too thin.
…It is vital to our community’s safety that the Seattle Police Department takes a proactive approach in addressing the escalating needs in urban Ballard based on the relative incidence of crime.
KOMO reports that SPD says the number of police assigned to Ballard is based on the volume of 911 calls in the area, and it’s not high enough to increase the police presence.