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Call to Action: Help report violence/crime in Pioneer Square
December 9, 2013  |  Call to Action, Politics, Residents, Violence


Below is a letter from a local resident and business owner, concerned about the increase in violent crime in the neighborhood. Please read through the email and add your voice of support to the neighborhood.

Friends and Neighbors,

Pioneer Square has been fortunate over this past year to see a great many new businesses and exciting changes happening in our beautiful neighborhood. Most of these changes have come as a result of hard work by many people all working together towards the goal of making this neighborhood something special. Unfortunately, I am not writing this letter to celebrate those accomplishments but rather to make a call yet again to each and every one of you to please help one more time.

Many of you may already know that I sit on the West Precinct Advisory Committee (WESTPAC). For those of you who do not know, it is a Citizens Advisory Committee that connects with the Seattle Police Department (SPD) to make them aware of neighborhood issues. I am contacting all of you to make a plea for you each to make a commitment to call 911 each and every time you see or hear anything out of the ordinary. SPD uses a great deal of data driven programs and algorithms that are all based on 911 calls.

psqshootingRecently there have been a lot of police arrests in the International District in an effort to deal with the wide spread gang problems they are facing. It would be pure speculation on my part but I fear those gangs may start to become even more active in our neighborhood. Pioneer Square has a disproportionately smaller number of residents compared to other parts of the city. We all need to act as 10 citizens in order to get the response we need from SPD. Even if the incident you witness is over, call 911 to report what you saw and give as much details as possible.

These past months have seen a starling rise in violent crimes within Pioneer Square, specifically gun and gang related violence. This most recent double shooting in Occidental Park comes on the heels of a violent group fight that also resulted in a man being shot in that same park and is only 5 weeks from the shooting at Union Gospel Mission.

All of this does not include many unreported and/or under reported violent incidents within Pioneer Square in recent weeks. Underreported? An example of that would be an incident that I witnessed just hours before the violent group fight mentioned above.

I was walking my dogs along 1st Ave S and as I turned onto S. Jackson I heard 3 clear gunshots from a vehicle. The vehicle was firing upon another vehicle as they both turned on Occidental from S. Jackson. I did not see a gun nor could I identify the vehicles as it happened so unexpectedly. I did get my dogs to cover (yes dogs first). I did however smell the gun smoke and have enough experience with small firearms to know it was gunshots. The police responded rather quickly but without sirens or lights as the 911 call only reported a “disturbance” and mentioned nothing about guns.

I found myself standing on the corner of Occidental and Jackson with my dogs, another neighbor who had made the call, and another business owner. We talked with the police about what happened. Less than two hours later, a fight and shooting happened not 2 blocks away. This incident involved a music promoter that was working at Club Volume.

As a small business owner and someone who has worked as a bartender in many clubs, I do not make a habit of calling the head of a business. However, Club Volume has been under the Liquor Control Board and City “probation” for some time now. For those of you living near Club Volume this call to duty is especially needed. The choices those business owners have made to work with promoters that have reputations for attracting gang elements has put them on that list and now those decisions are putting us at risk. It is especially important that citizens in that area of Pioneer Square call 911 no matter how trivial the issue may seem. It is the best chance we have to change or close Club Volume.

My next WESTPAC meeting is this coming Wed 12/11. I would appreciate if those of you that have witnessed criminal activity or simply wish to make your voice heard would take the time to write a letter. I will bring your letters with me to the meeting to be given to Captain Dermody. I have included my email address so you can send your letters directly to me. We all need to be vigilant and work together as I am very concerned by the recent trend of criminal activity. I am sure you all are as well.


Mike Klotz

If you want to email Mike with your concerns/thoughts, you can reach him at


  1. My work and home are both comfortably established in Pioneer Square and I have a greater concern for the potential consequences to our neighborhood as this issue is taken media wide. I have been in the neighborhood for a longer period it seems than the writer and I remember the frequent gunfire under the viaduct at night, omnipresent smash and grabs and the remains of broken windows from cars parked on the streets. We literally had hundreds upon hundreds of mentally disabled and otherwise homeless citizens on our streets. We have such an impressive and eclectic number of people living and working in the neighborhood today. People are out early and late while I walk my dog. I have never felt more secure in my neighborhood.

    I believe too dramatic a calling out on the safety of our neighborhood will have a greater negative impact than any of us wants. Too much attention may feed into a perception that it isn’t safe to come eat, drink, shop, live or whatever in P Square. A broadly engaged media only reinforces the current coverage that our neighborhood is increasingly unsafe while the opposite is true. Which is not to suggest that it is perfect either.

    From what I have read most of the problems mentioned at Volume are not definitively gang related. They are drunk and disorderly young people who should be handled better by the the establishment. There is little to indicate that we as residents are at direct threat. Perhaps the P Sq business and resident community can engage the owners of Volume to help convey concerns and find solutions.

    I have lived in a Seattle neighborhood where the business community engaged in some truly horrible behavior in the name of making the neighborhood safe and more profitable for business. And I sincerely object to any effort to band together to close down neighborhood businesses, ask the police to turn on sirens while there is no imminent threat or use 911 to skew results of police metrics. People in real need of emergency services should not be placed at threat or a delay in response time because we are all busy on 911 asking police to chase down some random sketchy figure on Occidental.

    I appreciate that the writer has concerns and desires a vibrant neighborhood but my hope is to make our neighborhood better differently. Perhaps these thoughts will be shared with Captain Dermody on Wednesday.

  2. c crockett,

    I appreciate your thoughtful feedback on this matter, but have to disagree with you on a few of the issues. While it sounds like you also have lived here longer than I have (only 5 years now), I don’t think people have ever had the “perception” that it is safe or clean down here — in fact, most volunteers and organizations work on fixing that perception, that it’s a great place to live and work.

    That has also been the focus of my blog since I started it — making sure that we can slowly fix the incorrect perceptions that continually circle around this neighborhood. That said — when things feel worse (and they definitely do to me as well), you shouldn’t just ignore the issues and wait for them to get better again. I feel that there is a lot to be said for using the systems that are set up to our advantage. We know that the police will send more support where they record more 911 calls. The operators are smart and know when to send police and when not to (anyone who regularly calls knows that the police aren’t always sent) — which would not be delaying a response to people who truly need help. But they have told us that simply tracking where the calls are made helps them to understand where they may need additional support in the future.

    What I also like is that with the Center City Initiative, the police are working with the human services and park rangers to come up with better solutions for people who actually need help, and not just a visit to a jail cell for a few days before being put out on the street. They work together to find the appropriate solutions to help those who really need it.

    I would be interested what other ideas you have about how to make our neighborhood better in a different way — perhaps there’s some additional work we can all do together with your ideas.

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