In the past few weeks, the police and other corrections officer type folks have been making a concerted effort to respond to our neighborhood concerns. No doubt, some of this has been in response to our requests and our vocalization of what we need to have done in this area to feel safe. We should not lose momentum on this front.
I am not sure how to do this, but we have got to remember that it is NOT a right for some folks to use our yards, houses and neighborhoods for activities that make a neighborhood unsafe to live in.
One way to build on this momentum is to know your neighbors and keep an eye out for one another. Another is to remember your rights a citizen to live in a safe neighborhood. We pay for police and other services, if we need them, lets use them. Perhaps we should tell Mayor Nichols that a concerted effort to ticket Jay-walkers is perhaps not the best priority for a limited police budget?
In our neighborhood, the police cannot constantly monitor the situation. We, as neighbors, have to take some responsibility as well--Look out for one another and those properties which no one is looking out upon. A stretch of 21st Avenue currently has several vacant properties on it. As a neighbor, when you see something going on there, take responsibility to call it in.
When vacant houses and streets are used for activities that other areas of the city don't accept, it makes the neighborhood more unsafe to walk around, which further perpetuates the problem of fewer eyes on the street, which further encourages more activity.
Since February, I have seen several attempts to address our concerns--There have been 'discussions' with some of the known drug users and sellers, I have been asked about 'hiding places', police have been out of their cars walking through alleys, Officer Hayes has been having talks with local users and sellers about options open to them for cleaning up, mobile precincts have been in the area and there has been a heightened response to 9-1-1 calls. All hours of the day there have been more drive-throughs by local police officers. Also the South Seattle Star has written a few articles on our neighborhood.
Significant changes in regards to living here that I have seen from the past two months of 2003 has been carports not constantly used for selling, dealing, smoking; fewer shootings, much less blatant dealing on the streets, less harassment, and the ability to park my car on the street without immediate approach for some sort of drugs or other services.
But most importantly, a general sense of feeling safer coming home and leaving (day or night) and knowing that if I call something in to the police, it will be responded to.
Let's keep this changes happening and not lose on what ground we have already gained.
No one prefers to live in a neighborhood with a constant police presence, but given the choice of harassment, violence and drug dealing, I would like to encourage that we thank the police forces for the extra effort and remind them that it is doing a ton of good and it has affected living here--for the better.
Another neighbor notes:
I noticed a comment about vacant buildings on 21st and just want to remind you that the city has a full time vacant building inspector whose job is to inspect these properties, respond to complaints and make sure the buildings remain sealed at all times. I got 2 problem vacant buildings in our neighborhood demolished through emergency orders in 1999 and we haven't had any problems since. The complaint number is 684-7899 and people who see problems in and around these properties should call this number just like calling 911. Calls can be anonymous, but be exact about the property address, nature and frequency of the problems, etc.
(Note from Andrew: you may need to follow up diligently on these complaints to make sure the City actually does its job: they've been rather incompetent in the past. A knowledgeable slumlord can string them along for a long time!)