Residents upset over change in SPD leadership

by: Alison Grande Updated:

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SEATTLE —

Frustration and fear boiled over in South Seattle Tuesday night. The community confronted command staff from the South Precinct about the rotating captains, and recent violence. Concerned residents met with police at the New Holly Gathering Hall.

Residents are upset the Seattle Police Department keeps rotating the Captains through the South Precinct. The recent appointment of Lt. Steve Strand as acting captain makes him the seventh captain at the precinct in just five years.

"It's really hard when your leadership is rotating our precinct captains out after six months, nine months," said Tammy Morales, "You can't talk to me about wanting to build trust when there's somebody new we have to get to know."

Neighbors are also worried about the recent violent crimes. Police say two groups fired at each other across Othello Park on May 14th. A neighbor saw other teens run for safety.

 "I can tell you there was an exodus of kids coming out of that park. The really sad thing and the reason I'm here today is those kids haven't come back," he said. 

The resident told police the kids aren't there because they don't feel safe anymore. He asked for SPD to put officers on bike patrol in the park.

There was another unsolved shooting on Rainier Avenue on May 16th. Investigators say more than 50 rounds were fired into 5 businesses.

Resident Susan Barnes expressed her fear and frustration, “I am amazed there haven't been more innocent bystanders shot- and it's literally a matter of time."

Police worked to reassure the crowd. “I cannot promise I can solve everything every moment every day. But it's not going to stop us from trying," said Capt. John Hayes, the outgoing captain of the South Precinct.

The acting Captain, Lt. Steve Strand added, "our entire precinct is spun up right now and focused on addressing these violent crimes. We have proactive officers hunting down leads."

Strand also acknowledged management changes at the top but said the officers on the street, who fight crime and interact with the public, are consistent.

 "The captains do come and go, that's not uncommon throughout the police department, but the officers that are responding to calls and know the neighbors and neighborhoods stay in place," he said.

While Lt. Strand is the acting precinct commander, he's not in the running to become the next South Precinct Captain. The new captain will be appointed by Kathleen O'Toole, the new Seattle Police Chief.