Poll shows public safety concerns for Seattle voters ahead of council elections

Months before elections for seven of nine city council seats, a new poll shows Seattle voters feel less safe in their neighborhoods and support hiring more police officers.

The EMC Research poll, conducted for the Downtown Seattle Association and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, found 57% of respondents say they feel less safe in their neighborhood than two years ago.

70% support hiring more police officers.

80% support a new public safety force with unarmed officers for nonviolent calls.

The poll found a 67% approval rating for Mayor Bruce Harrell and a 62% approval rating for Seattle police officers.

When asked to identify their top public safety concern, 54% cited homelessness, shelter, or housing.

Concerns about public safety and crime are front and center for business owners in Ballard.

“When you get a window broken, they’re like, ‘Welcome to the neighborhood,’” said Tommy Patrick, the owner of three businesses including The Ballard Cut.

Break-ins are common on his stretch of Ballard Avenue.

MK Byrne has had six in the year her jewelry store has been open.

“We always have to be on guard for a little bit of chaos coming through the door,” she said.

Byrne says thieves are becoming more brazen, like the guy who tried to get in using a blow torch.

She spent nearly $20,000 upgrading security equipment and even slept in her store.

“Just to make sure that if something happens, I’m here to call or I’m here to defend,” Byrne said.

“We have really slow police response times,” said Ballard resident Angie Gerrald, who passed by Ballard Commons Park, which is about to re-open after years of camping and crime.

“Our park had to be closed for a year-and-a-half because of so many serious safety situations,” Gerrald said.

The poll found the city’s council’s elimination of 80 unfilled police positions is unpopular with voters, with three-fifths saying they would not support candidates who backed those cuts.

“I understand why all the defund the police stuff happened, but this is now the real-life pendulum swing of what’s happening on the back end,” Patrick said.