Editor’s note: Sunday, The Seattle Times editorial board weighed in on the issue of Seattle’s persistent crime problem in some neighborhoods and the city’s inadequate response to protecting people and property. Monday, we offered seven steps to address the problem.
Downtown business groups had commissioned a study that profiled 100 “prolific offenders” and the lack of consequences for them. Complicating the matter is that many who commit the crimes are themselves struggling with mental illness, drug addition or both.
Below are reader responses to our editorial package. To read Sunday’s editorial: st.news/seattlecrime. To read Monday’s editorial: st.news/publicsafety. For cartoonist David Horsey’s take: st.news/horseycrime.
Please share your thoughts by sending a letter of up to 200 words to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ignoring the problem helps nobody
Thank you for your editorial outlining tangible proposals to address health and community impacts of homeless addiction. [“7 steps to restore Seattle safety, civility,” Opinion, April 22.]
Yesterday, as my Earth Day contribution, I spent three hours clearing out one abandoned encampment in the greenbelt across from my house, hauling garbage up a steep path to a church parking lot at the top.
The pile now waiting fills two parking spaces and includes half-empty containers of rotten food, decaying clothing, saturated moldy pillows and couch cushions, broken glass and plastic containers, five nasty daypacks now crammed with smaller garbage including mud-filled electronics and phones and containers with pills; and a mound of shredded tents, tarps and poles. I left the hypodermic needles for the city.
We aren’t doing anyone any favors by ignoring this problem.
Valerie Tarico, Seattle
Shelter should be the first mandate
I am very concerned about the tone of The Seattle Times April 21 and 22 editorials. Protests to the contrary, a law-and-order approach and essentially criminalizing homelessness appears to be the solution advocated.
When one consults with and quotes regularly a judge who is a former prosecutor as well as only the prosecutor’s office (full disclosure, my daughter is a Seattle Public Defender), and when the business community hires a consultant who is a criminal-justice expert, what else to think.
I have great empathy for the businesses impacted. I am a frequent patron of merchants and restaurants in Pioneer Square and am often more alarmed about the human suffering that I observe when there than fearing for my safety.
Yes, it would be nice to be able to look away or wish the area was absent such scenery, but that is a slippery slope and unwarranted in a city that proclaims to be enlightened and progressive.
I would advocate hiring experts and consulting with cities and communities that are making full-throttle efforts to shelter the homeless as that seems the first mandate for tackling the contributing problems of drug addictions and mental illness.
Cathy Sobel, Seattle
The way forward
[“Seattle’s persistent crime problem demands change,” Opinion, April 21] is the best show of leadership I’ve seen in this city since Norm Rice was mayor.
Along with David Horsey’s pithy analysis, it points the way forward.
Mary Coltrane, Seattle
Crimes people see
The thing people at City Hall have missed for years — certainly during my time there — is that criminal behavior is persistent with some offenders and it is more often than not anchored in specific places. Your graphic showing the surge in crime in some areas of the city speaks to this point.
The other important factor — and why so many people feel disconnected from political leaders — is that the police and public officials only speak about Part One offenses, the ones you wrote about. But what really irks people are the so-called Part Two offenses which include all drug offenses and dozens of other crimes.
These are the crimes people see with their own eyes and then can’t believe it when told crime is down in Seattle.
Tim Burgess, former mayor and council member, Seattle
Shame on leaders
I was horrified when I read “Seattle’s persistent crime problem demands change.”
Shame on the city leaders who have let Seattle degenerate to such a lawless and dangerous place. What are these people thinking?
Anyone knows that if there are no consequences for negative actions, it only reinforces the unacceptable behavior.
The worst part is that many innocent people bear the brunt of the foolish policies the city has embraced. Putting repeat offenders back on the streets is not a fair or safe option for the city’s residents. People just going about their business have no idea when they will become the victim of an unprovoked attack, possibly ruining their lives forever.
To the city: Do your job. If someone is a repeat offender, incarcerate them. If they sincerely deserve release before their trial, they must put up substantial bail.
Everyone needs to be held accountable for their actions.
Cynthia B. Samuel, Clyde Hill