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Leaked memo: SPD ignoring most N. Seattle burglaries

SEATTLE -- A confidential memo leaked to KOMO 4 News contains a bombshell admission by the city's police department. The document says north precinct detectives are too short-staffed to investigate most burglaries.

A police source said that unless burglary detectives have a suspect's name, evidence photos or surveillance footage, and complete witness interviews, it's unlikely a case will even get worked let alone solved.

Pete Rogerson works with Seattle police through the North Precinct Advisory Council, where he offers citizen input on police operations. Rogerson said in all his years in that role, he's never seen anything like this memo.

"I think this memo is very troubling," he said.

The memo is marked confidential and not for public display, but what it says about burglary investigations could trouble anyone.

"It's very surprising," Rogerson said. "I cannot believe this is the case."

The memo says at one point, 14 detectives worked burglary, theft and juvenile cases for the north precinct. Today it's down to two detectives and an on-loan patrol officer, even though the memo says cases have climbed to 1,500 a month. The memo concludes, "misdemeanor and even many felony crimes can no longer be investigated except on a very rare, case by case basis."

"This seems like a big problem," Rogerson said. "We're just asking for trouble."

Seattle police won't divulge staffing levels in the north precinct, saying it keeps the bad guys guessing.

However, a spokesperson said the major crimes task force also takes on burglary cases. Additionally, the department uses real-time data and community input to guide where resources are deployed.

Milana Richardson, a north Seattle resident, said officers do a good job focusing on violent crime but that didn't help when burglars stole from her home.

"I told the police. I took their license plate down. I had their name, I looked them up, where they lived, and I had no response (from police)," Richardson said.

Mayor Ed Murray hopes to add 100 new officers in the coming years, though that's not likely to help the lack of burglary detectives today.

"Adding more officers is not the sole solution to addressing our public safety needs," the mayor said, "but it clearly needs to be part of the solution."

By all accounts, crime safety experts said still vital to report all crimes because that information plays out in how limited police resources get assigned.

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