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Rantz: No, SPD response isn’t ‘shameful’

The SPD settled on a $195,000 payout to a woman who was punched while handcuffed by an officer after she kicked the officer in the face. (SPD)

On Tuesday’s Dori Monson Show, Dori was understandably upset that it took the Seattle Police Department six hours before responding to a car theft when they were practically handed the stolen car and the suspects. You can read details of this story here.

On his show, Dori ripped the SPD.

“Seattle police does not care about your property,” he said. “That is the message; the only message that can come out of this.”

Related: Mayor Murray: Police officer shortage isn’t reason for RV crime

He said the SPD’s behavior amounts to an “absolute disregard for property crimes” and argues that “… Seattle police have decided once again that our property isn’t worth their time. This is why we’ve become one of the biggest smash-and-grab cities in the country.”

He’s right to be mad at the unacceptably long wait time, but any criticism seems to be lacking some key details: We still don’t know why it took so long. It’s possible, I suppose, that the SPD willingly withheld resources in this crime because they didn’t care, but I find that hard to believe. The vast majority of cops, in any city, deeply care about the community they serve. Otherwise, they’d be unlikely to put a target on their back every day — with their uniform — to patrol our neighborhoods.

What’s possible is that this incident reflects an unfortunate reality: We have too few resources to combat crime. Dori is 100 percent correct in that we’ve experienced such high instances of smash-and-grabs because policing is down. But the policing is down because we don’t have enough cops on patrol. For the longest time, the city pretended we didn’t have a staffing issue, but Mayor Ed Murray has since realized we’re understaffed. He’s committed to adding more cops to the force, though it still will take too long.

With too few cops, the question remains what other priorities did the SPD need to handle while this car theft call came in. With all due respect to the owner of a car, that shouldn’t register high on our priority against some competing calls (we can surely think of some other calls we’d take before a stolen car).

Now, perhaps this is indicative of a broken 911 system. That’s obviously also possible and the SPD says they’ll be investigating. Detective Patrick Michaud wrote to us:

“We are conducting a major overhaul of our 911 Response Center. Our department is investing in better technology, hiring additional staff, providing better training and upgrading our facilities to improve efficiency and communication in our 911 Center. We continue to conduct ongoing reviews of 911 responses, policies and procedures to ensure we are working to achieve our service goals.”

Before we say cops don’t care, I think this story deserves some more details.

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