City Attorney dropping nearly 2,000 old cases; cites priorities

SEATTLE — The owner of a Belltown business hit for the fourth time says he is forced to take matters into his own hands to stay safe.

This comes as the city’s top prosecutor says she will drop nearly 2,000 similar cases that have accumulated over the last two years.

Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison signaled last week that she planned to drop the cases because, she says, many are too old to pursue.

But that’s an about-face from her 2021 campaign to be tough on all lawbreakers.

Now, this Belltown business owner says drug dealers do more to keep his business safe than the police.

In fact, when this window was broken out Sunday, he got the word not from Seattle police, but from the drug dealers who agreed to watch out for him.

They said they would as long as he doesn’t call the police on them.


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When someone smashed a window at Club Dogfish Sunday night, it was the fourth time someone had broken into this dog-sitting business since it opened Jan. 28.

The surveillance video shows Seattle police arriving 17 minutes later.

“This was the first time in the four break-ins, I actually spoke to a police officer, so,” said owner Josh Center.

What did they tell him? “They told me to install all new cameras,” he recalled.  “My cameras were stolen on the first break-in. So I didn’t have cameras this time.”

What Center has done instead is to enlist the help of the drug dealers and others, he says, who hang out outside his business in the heart of Belltown.

“I feel like we’re returning to the era of protection money,” said Center. “Because in exchange for me turning my eye when I have drug dealers at my door or down the block, they keep people from hanging out at my building.”

Indeed he says they were the ones who told him about Sunday’s break-in.

“A backup of this size is shameful,” Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison told the City Council’s public safety committee Tuesday.

She says nearly 2,000 cases like this that have been allowed to languish for the last two years won’t be prosecuted.

“The longer a case sits unattended,” said Davison, “the harder it is to prosecute.”

Those cases include theft, criminal trespass, property destruction, non-DUI traffic violations, and another 400 cases that are past the statute of limitations.

Davison says the priority will be crimes against persons, where a firearm is used, DUIs and suspects with three or more cases.

“I want to reinforce we are making this decision because it is the only way we can begin to return real-time accountability to our misdemeanor criminal justice system,” said Davison.

She insists crimes like this — those that are happening now — will be pursued, just as she promised.

That won’t help in this case.

No one has been arrested for any of the vandalism that has happened here.