Seattle police chief puts policing plan on YouTube

SEATTLE -- The new police chief promised transparency, and a YouTube posting just days on the job lives up to that commitment.

The video by Chief Kathleen O'Toole sets a tone and spells out her priorities for the coming weeks.

"With the input of cops on the beat and members of the community, we'll develop community policing plans for each neighborhood of the city," O'Toole said in the YouTube address.

In Pioneer Square, neighbors and merchants have been calling for a better policing plan for months to deal with street violence, open drug-dealing and issues surrounding homelessness. Lisa Dixon with Alliance for Pioneer Square said it's one thing to clean up the low-hanging fruit, but lasting change is much tougher to accomplish.

"It needs to be in conjunction with the larger plan because it won't work alone," Dixon said. "It's a very complex problem."

O'Toole said she's ready to tackle the challenges and explained her plan to customize community policing efforts to each area of the city.

"Once we identify the three to five biggest concerns in each neighborhood, we'll develop a strategy to address those," O'Toole said.

The Seattle Police Department has long claimed to employ community policing efforts, but last week Mayor Ed Murray said it's come up short.

"I would argue we have not done community policing in the city for a very, very long time," the mayor said. "If you go back to the '80s and look at what used to happen on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, we don't have the (same) number of officers on foot."

O'Toole said she's not alone because her community policing approach will spring from the neighbors themselves.

"It will be people living and working in those communities and cops on those beats who will help formulate those plans in the next 30 to 60 days," O'Toole said.

"I think it's a good change," Dixon said. "It kind of had been going downhill for quite a while, and I think there's a lot of hope right now that the streets are going to turn around."