Business owner urges more foot patrols by Seattle police

SEATTLE -- A University District bar owner thinks the city could be a whole lot safer if more police officers got out of their cars and worked foot patrols.

The theory is that patrol cars become a kind of barrier between police and the public they serve. Get officers out on the street - interacting with neighbors and businesses - and together they might solve crime at the grass roots level.

It may sound old school, but there's a growing call among residents for more beat cops in their neighborhood. Don Schulze would welcome them along "the Ave."

"I would love to see a group where I know their names and I can just call out, 'Hey Brian, hey Mike,'" Schulz said.

Last week, Schulze had a break-in at Shultzy's Bar & Grill. Someone tried to cut the lock to his keg storage room, so Schulze reviewed his security footage and found a possible suspect. A Seattle police officer happened to be on foot patrol outside the restaurant.

"I waved at him, he came in, and he immediately recognized who the individual was," Schulze said.

Seattle has used foot patrols for years and each of the five precinct captains deploys these teams as needed.

Kathleen O'Toole, the mayor's nominee for police chief, has signaled an interest in this kind of personal contact between officers and the communities they serve.

"Getting out there, spending time in the neighborhoods," O'Toole said. "Of course we have to enforce, but prevention and intervention are just as important - if not more important - than enforcement."

There is a potential downside to taking officers out of their patrol cars. Response times could suffer if officers can't go lights and sirens to a crime scene. Another drawback is that officers can't carry all their gear, and don't have computers to run warrant checks if they stop people on the street.

Schulze says the personal contact might be worth it.

"Being in a one on one basis with a police officer, you're more comfortable in your own neighborhood, and you feel you have somebody to go to," Schulze said.