There’s a new website that lets users report problems in downtown Seattle, but it’s not a project that the Seattle Police Department launched. In fact, police would rather you call them.
Launched on Monday by the Downtown Seattle Association, the Downtown Safety Connection attempts to be another avenue of reporting downtown’s woes; be it crime or disturbances.
“An example is if you walk by the area of 3rd [Avenue] and Virginia [Street], during the evening commute time you will see what is essentially an open-air market; people just hang up things on a chain link fence and try to sell them,” said James Sido with the Downtown Seattle Association. “There’s an illegal vending situation that has been problematic for quite some time. And if it continues to be an issue, then you know where to take that complaint.”
Witnesses to such a crime can report it to the DSA’s website, which will then forward the message on to the appropriate party. Sido said the association received input for the project from Sergeant Sean Whitcomb with the Seattle Police Department.
“We’ll routinely receive comments from people who see issues out on the sidewalks or in the streets of downtown, be it public safety, cleanliness, what have you,” Sido said.
“Often these people are frustrated because they don’t know where to send their complaints, or they don’t feel like they have a strong advocate on their side,” he said. “Our goal is to be that advocate. If you are seeing a persistent issue downtown, this is where you can take it and we’ll make sure it gets to the right audience.”
The website offers a range of concerns to report, such as drug dealing, aggressive solicitation, graffiti, mental health crisis, and more. Users can write a description of what they witnessed and include a photo of the incident. They can send the message to various government entities: the Downtown Seattle Association, city attorney, county prosecutor, Metropolitan Improvement District, the mayor, Seattle City Council, department of transportation, police department, public utilities, or the transit police.
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Submissions can be anonymous, but the DSA does want users to fill out contact information in case incidents need to be followed up on.
Sido notes, as does the website itself, that the service is not a replacement for 9-1-1. It is for ongoing issues, not emergencies; something Seattle Police Detective Patrick Michaud also stressed.
Michaud prefers that people who wish to report something to police use 206-625-5011, the non-emergency line for the police department.
It’s important, Michaud said, because the police department keeps track of crime statistics which influences their enforcement.
“Without accurate data, we don’t know how or where to be deploying our officers before these crimes happen,” he said. “Without that information, it can lead to longer response times.”
If people want to also report to the new website, that is OK, he said.
“It’s great that this website is out there and it’s an option for people, while it’s not the first one that we would recommend,” Michaud said. “Give us a call so we can track these things and get people out there to respond quickly.”
Michaud and Sido said that 9-1-1 is the go-to resource for emergencies.
“When you talk to the non-emergency number or 9-1-1, that’s the dispatch center and you know that you are talking to somebody from the police department,” Michaud said.