SS: I think it goes deeper than that. I can't comment on whether SPD here is good or not, seeing as how they've never showed up when I called. However, not all the blame rests on the police for that.
I've come to realize the 911 system here seems to be deeply flawed. I do not know what is to blame for this issue - if it's a culture thing, if the operators are overworked, or if they are too burned out and should be retired. I do know that they are more likely than not to not send help. I expect a 911 operator to sound flatly calm, but I do not expect her to sound absolutely bored. That is exactly what I experience here in Seattle.
My first experience with 911 was hearing a domestic violence episode just after I landed here. It was inside an apartment and I was standing just out of sight debating calling 911. I decided I would and just at that moment, a neighbor came out. She explained that if she called, they wouldn't come because she called too much. I was going to call anyways, so I accepted the cordless phone she handed me and I called. The woman kept saying I needed to make it sound more urgent than it was. I certainly wasn't going to lie, but did make it clear that the situation sounded dangerous. The 911 operator asked me about the address I was calling from - it showed up as the neighbor's address of course. I told her I was just passing by, the neighbor came out and I used her phone. After that, I got the distinct impression that the call was de-escalated at best.
This is just one story - when I called for a fight in Fremont, it was obvious no one would be sent out if there weren't weapons involved. And of course there is the infamous case of the 911 operator who told the social worker "the police have to respond to emergency calls first" when she knew something was wrong at the Powell place. It probably would not have made much difference with how fast it happened, but that's hindsight and the response was still inappropriate.
Something is deeply wrong with Seattle's entire system - it's not just one thing you can point to. Is 911 having to make judgement* calls because there aren't enough police to go around? That's a HORRIBLY flawed system, both for those in need of help and for the operators who should not have to have that responsibility put on them.
*We all know a normal operator has to make judgement calls, but I'm speaking of having to decide whether someone is going to die or just be terribly injured before dispatching help. Rightly, both should have help dispatched to them and you never know which is which.