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SPD investigating Target rampage response time

(KIRO 7 image)

Surveillance video from August allegedly shows 41-year-old Jason Lewis engaged in a rampage through a Target store in downtown Seattle. KIRO 7 reports Seattle police were called but never responded to the burglary over the 15 minutes it occurred.

KIRO Radio’s Ron and Don Show asked Seattle Police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb:

Why, when I’m at a Target, does it takes you 14 minutes to get there? He’s head butting people, he’s throwing things down escalators, he really is on a rampage .. I really want to know, how many cops are out there when I dial 911 or how many cops aren’t out there?

WATCH: Man rampages through Seattle Target for 15 minutes

“When we dispatched that call at 8:07, officers were at on-scene at 8:10 — within three minutes,” said Sgt. Whitcomb. “So the question is not how many officers were on the street, it’s how many officers were logged into the service and were available for dispatch? I think those are two separate questions.”

Whitcomb said he’s not trying to dodge questions about staffing levels and the Seattle Police Department, but “for the safety of the officers who are working any given shift it is not a number that we typically broadcast and advertise.”

The sergeant said broadcasting that number could be used to take advantage of police resources.

“There are officers who could have gone to that call,” Whitcomb said. “It wasn’t prioritized the way it might have been and officers who might have been in service, weren’t. We had one officer in service and one sergeant in service at the time the call initially came in in the 911 center.”

Whitcomb said the department is reviewing the 911 calls and asking internal questions:

“Why was this a priority two and not a priority one (a crime in progress, such as someone just robbed a bank, someone just committed an assault, crime in progress, police need to get there fast)? Priority two is a crime that just happened, something that is a disturbance, something that is not a bank robbery but maybe a suspicious person. A priority three is ‘Hey, I was gone for the weekend and came back and I noticed someone broke into my car or stole my lawn furniture.'”

In hindsight from watching the video, Whitcomb said this was “very much a crime in progress and needed immediate attention” as people expect a uniformed officer to arrive pretty quickly if they call 911.

Whitcomb said the Seattle Police Department has responded to over 203,000 calls for service to date in 2018.

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