New Seattle police chief outlines crime-fighting plan

by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:

Chief O'Toole at National Night Out in Occidental Park.

SEATTLE - Monday night Seattle's new police chief laid out some of the tools she's going to start rolling out this month to try to clean up crime in areas of the city.

One of those resources is the idea of community policing plans, which she introduced via a YouTube video posted on June 29. Those plans are created by officers and residents and include a prioritized list of problems that need fixing right now.

"I just met with the captains this morning," she told KIRO 7, adding that they all expect to submit their plans by the end of August. "They've made good progress."

It's encouraging to Pioneer Square business owner Barry Blanton, who pointed out some of the pressing problems for businesses in the area trying to attract customers.

"We have a lot of homelessness down here," Blanton, who owns a real estate management and consulting business, said. "Street civility would range from public urination and those sorts of issues to aggressive panhandling."

O'Toole joined Mayor Ed Murray for the National Night Out kick-off in Occidental Park.

O'Toole also responded to a new report by the Seattle Community Policing Commission, which was created as part of SPD's settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice. It found neighborhood district coordinators liked increased foot and bike patrols and added officer engagement, but that officers said paperwork reduced the amount of time they have to engage with the community.

O'Toole had a direct answer for that.

"I think we need to do business more efficiently," she said. "We're trying to look at some technology options that will reduce report writing requirements, for instance... The goal is to get out officers out in the field as much as possible."

She said next week, she's deploying a new process for tracking crime statistics.

"We can map trends and we can follow trends and then we'll deploy our resources accordingly," she said.

Mayor Murray said he's looking to add to those resources, too.

"It's going to require shifting officers out of some specialized roles," he said, "so that we have more patrol officers, and over time it's going to require us to grow our police force."