Seattle Police officials point to guns as the common denominator for a recent spate of gun violence. So what do they propose to do about it?
A TRAGIC leap in Seattle homicides demands proven solutions and visible, decisive leadership around public safety.
Yet Seattle police officials didn’t offer that on Tuesday when they shared with the City Council the stunningly obvious analysis that guns are to blame for a spate of gun violence culminating in a bullet-riddled Memorial Day weekend and last week’s shooting death of a Central Area father of two. Two more fatal shootings Wednesday, one in the University District and one downtown, added to the toll.
Police response so far has been more emphasis patrols in high-crime areas and redoubling outreach to affected communities. OK. But as Councilmember Tom Rasmussen pointed out, these responses are not new.
The core problem in the shootings appears to be tied directly to gang conflict and/or people believing that they can resolve their problems with a gun. Tightening control over firearms may be part of a solution but our public-safety leaders need to step up with a plan.
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As time takes us further away from the tragic death of Justin Ferrari, a Madrona resident and father killed a week ago while running errands with his two children and parents, concrete solutions are critical.
Shortly after Ferrari’s death on May 24, an innocent bystander was shot in the leg near Seattle Center by a gang member aiming at another gang member. Four drive-by shootings occurred later that night. Last month, 21-year-old Nicole Westbrook, a culinary student who had just moved to Seattle, was fatally shot while walking with her boyfriend in Pioneer Square.
These acts of violence are not the price we’re willing to pay for city living.
The roots of gun violence are complex, including generational poverty and fractured families. These challenges merit attention and action by an entire community, not just law enforcement and local government. City Councilmember Tim Burgess offers perspective that the police chief and Mayor Mike McGinn should consider.
Burgess, a former cop, studied the crime statistics and came up with a plan. He acknowledges that violent crime is on the decline here and nationwide, but points to the rising threat of certain other crimes, such as drug trafficking and prostitution. Those crimes are often associated with gang members. Gang members often carry weapons. Moreover, as Burgess points out, a high percentage of Seattle crime occurs at specific places — so-called “hot spots.”
Is there a link between an increase in crimes associated with gangs and the recent spate of street gunfights and drive-by shootings?
Police top brass ought to be talking with Councilmember Burgess to answer that question.