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Seattle police dispute reports staffing limiting north-end burglary investigations

The Seattle Police Department says staffing issues are not preventing burglary investigations in the north precinct, despite an internal memo questioning staffing levels. (AP file)

The Seattle Police Department insists it’s not turning a blind eye to burglaries in the north end, despite reports the north precinct is too short staffed to investigate most incidents.

A confidential internal memo obtained by KOMO TV says just two detectives and an on-loan patrol officer are now working burglary, theft and juvenile cases for the entire precinct. In the past, 14 detectives worked the cases, it says. And the memo says the number of cases have climbed to 1,500 a month.

It’s raising significant concerns in the community. But Seattle Police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb tells The Ron & Don Show while the memo is legitimate, it is not “an official document” and he insists the department is not compromising on burglary investigations.

“Investigating all crimes is a priority and there’s different layers of investigation that occur,” Whitcomb says. “The truth of the matter is deployment is done very strategically.”

Whitcomb would not address specific staffing levels in the precinct. But he says many burglary investigations are preliminarily handled by patrol officers or technicians rather than detectives, who process the scene for fingerprints, take video and seek other evidence.

“So we’re not telling people I’m sorry, there’s no one to dust for prints at your burglary, there’s no one to take your video because we don’t have any detectives,” Whitcomb says.

Whitcomb insists if “good, actionable information” such as fingerprints or other evidence is gathered, detectives will then investigate.

“I will say that we do put the most of our energy where we are going to have best outcome,” he says.

Whitcomb says the department will utilize resources from other units to aid in burglary investigations if real-time data and community input reveal trends that require increased attention.

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