KTTH Freedom Series: Seattle, Bellevue have dramatically different approaches to crime

May 26, 2023, 11:44 AM | Updated: 2:31 pm

The contrast between how Seattle and Bellevue address crime was at the forefront of the KTTH Freedom Series in Renton on Wednesday.

The discussion forum focused on surging crime across the state.

Many see Seattle as the gritty big brother struggling to address drugs and crime while Bellevue is viewed as the shining city on the hill that seems to have the dog by the tail.

“What’s the difference between Seattle and Bellevue?” Bellevue Deputy Mayor Jared Nieuwenhuis asked rhetorically. “I usually tell the story of a Bellevue police officer who told me about when he was called down Bellevue Square.” Police had arrested someone who was shoplifting.

“So the suspect was put into the cruiser and the officer asks, ‘why did you decide to come to Bellevue today and steal?’ The suspect said, ‘I’m shocked right now.’ The officer said, ‘Why are you shocked? You’re shoplifting. We caught you. Now we’re going to charge you.’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, but if I was in Seattle, I’d already be back on the street. And I’d be home by now.’

KTTH Freedom Series: State policies created WA crime crisis

Nieuwenhuis said his city is not immune to crime, but he said Bellevue city government focuses on what’s best for the city and doesn’t tend to get distracted about what they don’t have control over.

“The true point is that 25% on average of the Seattle populace votes,” Mike Solan, president of the Seattle Police Guild, said. “More often than not, the type of personality that gravitates to a city council seat, I think, are people that [aren’t] a true reflection of the populace. And that’s a problem.”

Solan said that policing has been politicized to an unreasonable level in the city of Seattle and “we need to take back moderate, reasonable positions in politics in regards to public safety.”

“I think it’s important where I come from, we take the keys away from people that are impaired. And then we drive,” State Representative Dan Griffey (R-35th District) said. “We don’t let them drive right now that Washington state has turned into a place where we step over people in need.”

Griffey said resources need to be provided to change the narrative. He said 911 has to be able to respond more effectively.

“I think, as a cop that you’re a human being and the reason why you wanted to be a police officer was to help people in need, and also catch bad guys from doing bad stuff,” Solan said. “But your ability to be an effective police officer is being removed due to activism, which I always call unreasonable activism.”

“The resource pieces are so critical to this,” Nieuwenhuis said. “Just as an example, we had a 26-year-old who died of a fentanyl overdose. Because the Bellevue Police Department is fully staffed, we were able to launch a year-and-a-half investigation. We were able to track back exactly to who sold the fentanyl pills to this young gentleman who ended up passing away from an overdose and that took a year and a half, and a lot of time and resources. But we did catch up to him. And now he’s being prosecuted for that for homicide.”

Watch the full roundtable below:

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
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KTTH Freedom Series: Seattle, Bellevue have dramatically different approaches to crime