Survey: Seattleites voice concerns for car prowls, police capacity

Sep 3, 2019, 6:05 AM | Updated: 7:41 am
car prowls, seattle police, seattle crime...
Seattle police. (KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

A new survey outlines a handful of public safety concerns within Seattle, most prominently car prowls, and a lack of police capacity.

Total reported crimes in Seattle down in 2019, guns still a concern

The survey conducted by Seattle University’s criminal justice department polled over 6,500 people across various police precincts, asking them to detail their biggest public safety concerns in 2018 and describe those concerns in detail. Of those who participated, over 70 percent selected one of either car prowls or police capacity among their top concerns. Homelessness was the third most selected concern at just under 60 percent.

The survey also asked for “narrative comments,” where respondents could outline general safety and security issues in their own words. Seattle’s homeless crisis was the most prominent theme in those comments, with over 20 percent mentioning it in some way. Second was a lack of police capacity, followed by “public order crime.”

Despite being the top concern in the survey, car prowl crimes in Seattle have actually decreased across the last three years, from 13,105 in 2016, to 12,412 in 2017, and then 11,602 in 2018. Car prowls are also down year-over-year as of April 2019, when Seattle Police crime data was last updated.

Police capacity, though, has proven more problematic on a substantive level. With many SPD officers either leaving for other cities or retiring, it’s left the department short on personnel. KTTH’s Jason Rantz reported back in July that SPD staffing is stretched so thin, that at many times across various precincts, officers will only respond to priority calls.

Durkan: Crime is up in certain Seattle neighborhoods

Priority calls (or as many officers call them, “priority ones”) generally include emergencies in progress (or happening near the time of the 911 call), with a suspect description. If someone calls to report an issue of domestic violence, for example, the call is handled as quickly as possible. This also means officers won’t quickly respond to calls, for example, about a drug deal on a street corner or if you wake up to a car break-in.

Per SPD policy, priority call handling “is used when on-street resources from one or more precincts are depleted significantly below normal staffing.” According to Seattle Police Sergeant Sean Whitcomb, it is a “frequent occurrence; it happens with a degree of frequency.”

Local News

SDOT Light Rail Ped...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Pedestrian struck, injured by Link light rail train in south Seattle

A pedestrian was struck and injured by a Link light rail train Wednesday afternoon in south Seattle.
1 day ago
(Photo courtesy of King County)...
Frank Sumrall

King County executive initiates plan to conserve and save the region’s wilderness

King County executive announced a plan to protect 65,000 acres of forests, farmland, and greenspace, raising property taxes in the process.
1 day ago
MyNorthwest Staff

Drought may impact most of Pacific Northwest this summer

Drought is expected to impact much of the Pacific Northwest this summer, impacting areas throughout eastern Washington, southern Oregon and southern Idaho.
1 day ago
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)...
Frank Sumrall

SPD report discovers 80% of 911 calls were for non-criminal events

After reviewing more than 1.2 million 911 calls from 2017 to 2019, the Seattle Police Department (SPD) found 79.7% of calls were for non-criminal events.
1 day ago
KIRO 7 News Staff

9-year-old boy shot by younger brother in Federal Way

A 9-year-old boy was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center after being shot by his younger brother in Federal Way.
1 day ago
The US government will fly in baby formula on commercial planes contracted by the military in an ai...
Heather Bosch

A guide to locate baby formula from Washington’s Department of Health

Washington's Department of Health has put together a list of resources to help find nutritious food to feed your newborn.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Survey: Seattleites voice concerns for car prowls, police capacity