As crime decreases, Seattle Mayor pushing for hundreds of additional police

Jun 8, 2016, 3:42 PM | Updated: Jun 9, 2016, 5:48 am

seattle police...

(File, Associated Press)

(File, Associated Press)

Data-driven policing is making a positive difference in Seattle, according to police Chief Kathleen O’Toole.

In a news conference Wednesday, O’Toole said crime is down 25-percent in the south precinct, which covers neighborhoods like Beacon Hill, Rainier Vista, SoDo and Othello.

“One shots fired incident is one too many,” O’Toole said. “One homicide is one too many, but I do think that combining this data-driven approach with good, solid police work is making a difference.”

Meanwhile, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray wants 200 more police officers in the city by 2019, but he needs the funding.

If the Seattle City Council approves, the Seattle Police Department would grow to the highest staffing level in the history of the department, according to the city. The mayor says his proposed staffing level falls in line with the policing study conducted by Berkshire Advisors.

Related: How many cops does Seattle need?

“This is a balanced proposal that ensures that the Seattle Police Department will have sufficient staffing to meet the public safety needs of our growing city,” Murray said. “Residents, businesses, and experts agree that we must increase investments in our police department, hire additional officers, and enhance community engagement. I look forward to working with Council to finalize this plan and to continuing our shared commitment to protect the people and property of Seattle.”

The mayor initially announced his plan for police funding in April. but it was unknown exactly how he wanted to raise the money.

Murray also wants to improve the city’s 911 call center and invest in information technology. The total price tag for those improvements and the new officers is $37 million per year. Funding for the new officers will come from existing resources and taxes on Seattle businesses. A two percent increase in the B&O tax is expected to generate $8.4 million per year. Changing and increasing the City’s Business License fee is expected to raise another $5.8 million per year.

The mayor is touting support from The Neighborhood Safety Alliance, including the Ballard Chamber of Commerce and the Alliance for Pioneer Square.

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