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.
Recently 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.
If you want to email Mike with your concerns/thoughts, you can reach him at MikeK@gcrestaurants.com