Last week, Seattle officials announced the results of a months-long crackdown on sidewalk drug dealers with the arrests of more than 400 suspected dealers. Today, says the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, police and city officials plan to take another step in attacking the problem of street-level drug dealing — using Narcstat, a data-collection program officers are using to focus their efforts on problem areas. One citywide map created using the data program shows hot spots of activity concentrated in six areas. Jordan Royer, a senior policy adviser to Mayor Greg Nickels, said it’s important for those in the community to see the information police have gathered and learn what they are doing to combat drug-related crime.
The police department began collecting some of this information from 911 calls and reports from beat cops about two years ago. It was only in recent months that analysts were able to take the raw data they were gathering and put it into a form that made sense to precinct commanders and narcotics investigators. Calls reporting drug activity and reports from patrol officers can be broken down into any one of 64 police beats. They can also be plotted on a map, something precinct commanders can understand and use to help direct patrols. A telephone survey by the city last summer of more than 1,200 residents found more than 30 percent who said crime was a problem in their neighborhood reported that drug crime was the biggest problem.