Chief of Police addresses auto crimes and other police issues of concern

With recent news stories about crime in north Seattle, including an increase in car prowls and thefts and a cluster of bank robberies, Ravenna-Bryant community members have had questions about policing in our neighborhoods.

During the October North Precinct Advisory Council (NPAC) meeting, Chief of Police Kathleen O’Toole addressed questions that are specific to the north end. Some of them are the same questions answered during a recent Civic Cocktail.  The video recording may be viewed here:

During both the NPAC meeting and the Civic Cocktail, Chief O’Toole acknowledged that the North Precinct has been hit hardest by car-related crimes.

When discussing car prowls and police responses to 911 calls in general, Chief O’Toole said that the Seattle Police Department (SPD) is taking steps to address police service.  An assessment of the 911 call center is currently being conducted to determine if calls are appropriately prioritized. How current police resources are deployed is also being assessed.  In addition, response times and staffing levels are being assessed.

During the Civic Cocktail, an audience member noted that though Seattle and Boston have similar population sizes, about 1300 police are employed in Seattle and 2000 are employed in Boston. Chief O’Toole noted that Seattle is also a safer city than Boston so while more police are needed in our city a study is being done to determine how many more police and how to best allocate them.  The mayor’s proposed budget includes funding for additional officers.

A theme that the Chief touched on throughout the Civic Cocktail was that police cannot resolve problems alone. SPD and the community need to work collaboratively. She mentioned working with City Light to increase lighting in dark areas as a way to decrease crime. (This is especially important for reducing car prowls and thefts.) She also is looking into how to increase social services and programs such as LEAD to address root causes of crime.

Kim Wilkes

Well, our front door was kicked in and our house was robbed in broad daylight so I don’t know how City Light could help with that. We had numerous ongoing leads on the people who broke in, but SPD never responded to our requests. It’s an outrage.


Thanks for the comment, Kim. City Light was mentioned as an example of things that can be done, in addition to law enforcement, to prevent some crimes. The physical design of a neighborhood, including lighting, can affect the levels of crime in a neighborhood. More information about preventing crime through environmental design is available at: Environmental design certainly will not prevent all crime, but it is one tool that can be used to reduce crime.