Police, community gather to discuss Cal Anderson violence

SEATTLE -- Residents in the area of Capitol Hill's Cal Anderson Park are dealing with ongoing issues of violent crime, and on Thursday night they came together with police to work on new ways to tackle the problem.

Members of the community say the goal is to keep an open dialogue between residents, business owners and police on Capitol Hill.

"We want community engagement to resolve issues," said officer Sina Ebinger. "It's a package deal. Everybody bringing ideas in to come to a solution getting everybody involved."

The Capitol Hill Community Council gathered Thursday at Cal Anderson Park to meet with police about an area that has become a hotbed of violence.

"This neighborhood is residents, it's businesses and it's children and it's family, and that is the focus of what we want to keep safe and keep vibrant in this neighborhood," said Melissa Blankenship of the Capitol Hill Community Council.

All parties agree that fixing the problem means dealing with everything from mental health issues to drug problems.

"The issue is larger than just the police department," Ebinger said. "We have a lot of people who have mental health issues who are also homeless and have drug addiction and also no place to sleep."

Residents say they see police officers doing all they can to help, but they're often asked to do too much.

"Seattle police are looked upon as therapists. They're looked upon as social service providers. A lot of the cops I know are really good men and women, but we lean on them a little bit too much sometimes," said resident Timothy Durkan.

In the end, community members and police say they just want to make Cal Anderson a place where residents and visitors can feel safe and comfortable. They plan to hold more gatherings in the future.