The increased police patrols followed two shootings early Saturday in Seattle.
An increase in gun violence, earlier in the year than usual, has prompted the Seattle Police Department to step up patrols.
The areas targeted include central Seattle, Second Avenue and Yesler Way, and South Seattle, Chief Kathleen O’Toole said in an interview Saturday. Both plainclothes and uniformed officers will be deployed in neighborhoods with shooting hot spots.
The announcement followed two shootings early Saturday.
The first occurred near 10th Avenue East and East Seneca Street shortly before 1 a.m., police said. Gunfire was exchanged between two moving vehicles. No one was injured, but parked cars were damaged, said Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, a police spokesman.
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Four people were injured, one seriously, in the second shooting, just after 2 a.m. in a parking lot at Occidental Avenue South and South Washington Street. In that incident, people were walking to their cars, a fight began and shots were fired, Whitcomb said.
The shootings were not connected, he said.
The shootings are being investigated by the department’s gang unit. There have been no arrests.
O’Toole said the department already was in the process of developing its annual stepped-up patrols in entertainment districts.
“As the weather gets warmer, things pick up,” O’Toole said. “We decided to accelerate the plan, given the increase in violence over the weekend.”
This year, the weather warmed early and shootings increased right in step with the temperatures.
“No question weather is a factor; that is always the case with policing,” said O’Toole. “One shooting is too many, as far as I’m concerned.”
The staffing increase started Saturday. Officers were being brought in on overtime and were being redeployed from the gang, SWAT and traffic units.
The deployment will be data-driven, to focus resources where they are most needed, O’Toole said.
“But it’s not just a numbers game,” she added.
For instance, the department also will increase patrols in the South Precinct, even though that district saw a 24 percent decrease in violent crime last year and another 10 percent drop this year, O’Toole said.
“South Precinct has made a lot of progress and we will continue to work on it,” O’Toole said. “This is about community perception, too, and it’s important to let people know we are paying attention.
“The Central District is certainly a hot spot, and recently we had an incident on Second and Yesler and we will certainly see increased police activity there.”
Overall, in terms of shots fired, the city is still below where it was last year at this time, O’Toole said.
“But that is no consolation to anyone if there are shots fired in their neighborhood.”
She noted that each precinct has its unique problems; the North Precinct has endured a rash of property crimes recently.
“We have made a lot of arrests and recovered a lot of property. Now in other neighborhoods, we are concerned about shots fired.”