Laurelhurst Community Club                                                     

Serving 2800 Households and Businesses in Seattle’s Laurelhurst Neighborhood

 

November 7, 2003

 

 

 

Councilmember Jan Drago, Chair

City Council Budget Committee

Members of the Seattle City Council

600 Fourth Avenue, Floor 2

P.O. Box 34025

Seattle, Washington  98124-4025

 

Attention:  Theresa Dunbar, Clerk

 

Re:       Community Service Officers and Public Safety

 

Dear Budget Chair Drago and Members of the Seattle City Council,

 

            The Laurelhurst Community Club Board of Trustees urges you provide funding for community service officers as included in the Council’s 2004 endorsed budget and to provide additional funding for public safety and crime prevention.  We were disappointed that public safety was not among the Mayor’s priorities in his proposed budget.  We understand the challenges you face with the $25 million shortfall and the many competing demands.  Your budget efforts, however, can and will ensure a commitment to public safety and our Seattle Police Department if funding is provided.

 

Community Service Officers perform important services to assist the police and the community.  They handle juvenile runaway case management and provide assistance to abused and neglected children.  They check on the well-being of the elderly and other vulnerable people.  They provide crisis intervention services and assist people in finding emergency housing—just to list a few of the functions they perform.  If funding for Community Service Offices is eliminated, as proposed by the Mayor, these much-needed services will not be provided because police will not have the time to do them.  To reinitiate the program in future years would mean large training and start-up costs.  The current program is an effective and efficient use of funds.

 

            The Mayor proposes to eliminate five Community Service Officers and one supervisor and retain only one position to do computer work to maintain a youth runaway database.  This essentially means that Seattle will have no Community Service Officer program.  While it is important to have staff to do the data entry on the computer, it is much more important that Seattle’s citizens receive the services of Community Service Officers. 

 

            It is also important to provide adequate funding for sworn police officers.  While the Mayor proposes to add ten fulltime sworn officers, Seattle is well-below the national average for cities of similar size in its ratio of police officers to residents.  In 2000, Seattle had 224 officers per 100,000 residents—27% below the national average.  Ten additional positions will make little difference.  Without a sufficient number of police officers, the safety of other officers is threatened due to the unavailability of adequate backup.  This also impacts public safety due to increased response times and work that simply will not get done.

 

            Until earlier this year when major cuts were made, Seattle had always been recognized for its Crime Prevention program, with over 3,800 registered block watches citywide.  Block Watch has been shown to be an effective deterrent of crime at the neighborhood level, and the success of the program is due to the great work of Block Captains over the years and adequate funding from the City.  The Seattle Police Department can no longer offer the same services to work directly with Block Watches and as a result, our communities have been put at greater risk.  Property crimes have been rising and our vehicle theft rate is spectacularly high.  Seattle’s Crime Prevention program can again make a major difference if funding is provided.

 

            We urge you to provide funding for Community Service Officers, Seattle Police Department officers and the Crime Prevention program.  Thank you for considering our views.

 

Sincerely,

                                                     

Jeannie Hale, President                                                 Pat Wright, Crime Prevention Rep

3425 West Laurelhurst Drive NE                                              3925 48th Avenue NE

Seattle, Washington  98105                                                      Seattle, Washington  98105

206-525-5135 / fax 206-525-9631                                          206-522-0871

jeannieh@serv.net                                                                    fredmm@attbi.com