Councilmembers Godden, O'Brien and I went over to West Seattle last night for a neighborhood roundtable discussion of the City's public safety budget. West Seattle Blog provided some coverage here. (The above photo is from West Seattle Blog.)
It was one of our better budget discussions because citizens had the chance to ask questions, share their opinions, and dialog with one another and the Council members present. I found it far better than the usual two-minute soundbites we allow for public comment at our meetings.
Here is a quick list of citizen comments and concerns related to our public safety investments:
- Favor prevention and early intervention efforts; don't wait until it's too late and then police action is required
- Strengthen community centers; give youth positive places to hang out
- Increase police foot patrols in neighborhood business districts; relationships with business owners and police are excellent when officers come into our stores and meet us
- Use non-police staff for problem-solving; don't always require police officers to do everything
- Expand the clean-alley program
- Parking Enforcement Officers should be more engaged with their neighborhood areas; use PEOs as eyes and ears, let them solve street disorder issues
- Police department needs better customer service; 911 operators are sometimes rude
- Continue "park activation" program in center city parks, especially in international district
- Fix broken streetlights, clean up graffiti and litter
- Continue to fund park rangers
- Be careful when reducing fire department; provide more facts and overall context for why such cuts might be necessary
- Where can City achieve more efficiencies in public safety expenses?
- Build respect and trust with police officers; worry about "rogue" police actions that damage overall reputation of our officers
- Produce a 911 training video for citizens so they know what to expect when they call 911
- More accountability for police officers and for program effectiveness
Additional neighborhood budget discussions are planned. Check out the details here.