Seattle police will spend $500,000 over the next four months to bolster police presence downtown in response to two recent shootings and a rise in complaints about crime, reports the Seattle Times. “We really want to deal with the thug factor,” West Precinct Captain Steve Brown said after a news conference Thursday to announce the plan. Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske said the increased uniformed presence will make residents, pedestrians, and business owners feel safer, as well as thwart potential crime.
Kate Joncas, president of the Downtown Seattle Association, she has been pressuring the city to assign additional officers to the downtown shopping district for more than a year. She calls the level of crime downtown “unacceptable.” Joncas said other cities have prevented major crimes by having officers spend more time focusing on drug dealing, public drinking, and panhandling. On Friday night, a man opened fire near the Pike Place Market and wounded two men. On July 30, a 25-year-old man was wounded after he and another man argued during the peak of rush hour. Several downtown streets were shut down, stranding bus riders and clogging traffic, as officers tracked two suspects. Kerlikowske said crime rates across the city are at a 35-year low, but added that if “people don’t feel safe, they don’t care about crime numbers.”