Capitol Hill businesses to police: Step in to fight crime

SEATTLE - For all the busy weekend foot traffic in Capitol Hill bars and restaurants, business owners say one set of feet seems to be missing: those in uniform.

"Capitol Hill is a target-rich environment, which means there are a lot of people out on the streets, a lot of people with cash in their pockets, and that they're vulnerable," said Michael Wells, executive director of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce. "One of the things we'll always call for is more foot and beat patrols on the streets."

Final crime statistics aren't in for the summer, said Det. Patrick Michaud with the Seattle Police Department, but anecdotally, crime appears to be up on Capitol Hill, he said.

A sampling of August police reports show that in a 48-hour span, police investigated a string of incidents, all within blocks of one another.

One man was arrested after an alleged hate crime on Sunday, August 10. At least three people reported being robbed of their cell phones and cash in early morning robberies on Saturday, August 9.

More recently, a DJ told police he was held up at gunpoint and robbed of more than $3,000 in equipment and cash outside the Oddfellows Building, 915 E. Pine St., Sunday morning, August 24.

"We believe that police on the streets really directly effects the vulnerability and sensibilities for people," added Wells.

Earlier this month, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to Mayor Ed Murray calling for more police foot patrols in the busy Pike / Pine corridor on Friday and Saturday nights.

"We know that consistent, dedicated officers are of enormous value to an urban neighborhood like Pike and Pine," the letter reads. "Dedicated foot beat officers at this junction... during the peak nightlife activity of Friday and Saturday would be a responsible, proactive solution."

Last week, one of the alleged victims in the August 10th hate crime made a similar plea before the city's Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Commission.

"I am disturbed by the lack of police presence on Capitol Hill, especially on Friday and Saturday nights when it is extremely packed," the victim said. "I have never seen a foot patrol in that area, even though there is a precinct right there. It's a little concerning to me because the nature of the assault screams premeditation to me."

"We're doing our best to accommodate those requests at this point," said Det. Michaud, who worked the Capitol Hill beat until earlier this year. "As we get more officers available to get more foot patrols, we're going to absolutely do them."

The East Precinct Captain, Pierre Davis, is aware of the requests, Michaud added.

"We want to be able to provide a much safer environment for them, and if that includes using foot patrols, we'll do it," Michaud said.