The Seattle Police Department made the change after it was recommended by a community task force.
The Seattle Police Department moved Little Saigon into its West Precinct on Wednesday, bringing the neighborhood under the same command as the rest of the Chinatown International District in response to a community recommendation.
For many years, Little Saigon was included in the East Precinct, because of its location east of Interstate 5. But the neighborhood has historical ties to and public-safety needs in common with the sections of Chinatown ID on the other side of the freeway.
In 2016, a community task force convened by then-Mayor Ed Murray recommended the police department move Little Saigon into the West Precinct, arguing the minor change would “facilitate improved communication, reduce duplication of strategies and improve the relationships officers can make with community members.”
Effective Wednesday, the West Precinct extends east of I-5 to Boren Avenue South between Yesler Way and South Dearborn Street. The change means all of the Chinatown ID is now being overseen by a single precinct captain, Thomas Mahaffey.
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To support the change, the department will be adding three police officers in the West Precinct, spokesman Sean Whitcomb said.
Tam Nguyen, a restaurant owner and Friends of Little Saigon board member who served on the community task force, hailed the move.
In the past, neighborhood activists bounced between precincts as they sought help with local issues, Nguyen said. For example, neither precinct was quick to address camping in 2016 along South Jackson and South King streets under I-5, he said.
“We’ve had years of slow response from the police department,” he said. “We were meeting with the West Precinct and then the East Precinct. It wasn’t very productive.”
Vicky Li, a community-outreach specialist with the police department, said the adjustment should help community organizations that work on both sides of I-5.
And Nguyen sees an opportunity for a fresh start. In addition to the precinct change, the city’s new mayor, Jenny Durkan, is searching for a new police chief.
“We hope this will make the community safer,” Nguyen said.