New city councilmember proposes downtown storefront for police and community service officers

VIDEO: A possible solution to a Seattle street plagued with problems

Just south of the Seattle city limits, Peter Truong patrols White Center.

Truong speaks five languages and seems to know everyone. He’s an unarmed community service officer with the King County Sheriff’s Office. He does crime prevention and connects people with services.

Key to his mission is a storefront where people can meet him, or the deputies who are also based there.

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"I think it will work very well in Seattle,” Truong said of the storefront.

New Seattle City Council member Andrew Lewis agrees. His district includes downtown, the scene of last week’s shooting.

“We can’t keep doing the same thing we’ve been doing, we’ve got to change it up. We have to pair the traditional law enforcement response with service-based interventions,” Lewis said.

Lewis on Monday proposed a 24 hour community storefront near 3rd Avenue and Pine Street. It would be staffed by the community service officers the city is bringing back this year, as well as police officers and social workers.

“It’s gotta be visible and folks gotta know that’s the place you can go if you need help,” Lewis said.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Jacqueline Helfgott, who leads the Crime and Justice Research Center at Seattle University, and says the perception of safety matters. “How afraid people are of crime can be just as important as the actual statistics of instances of crime,” she said.

It’s unclear exactly where a storefront might go.

Seattle had community service officers until the early 2000′s when they were lost to budget cuts. A dozen new officers will join the force next month, with six more expected by the end of the year.