KTTH Freedom Series: WA still suffering from crime, homelessness

May 26, 2023, 2:51 PM | Updated: 3:28 pm

In the latest KTTH Freedom Series, Bryan Suits was joined by We Heart Seattle founder Andrea Suarez, Tacoma Police Union President Henry Betts, and Kent Mayor Dana Ralph to discuss the short- and long-term solutions to the region’s ever-lasting crime and homelessness crisis.

“We were birthed out of frustration, why are there needles everywhere and trash in our parks and green spaces?” Suarez said. “We just started picking up the trash and found a lot of truth and doing that built trust. The No. 1 reason they’re committing crimes is to feed their addiction. Sometimes I wonder, are they the criminal? Or is it their perpetrator, their pimp, and we don’t talk enough about the upstream crime that puts that person where they’re at, that’s preying on that vulnerable person in the throes of their addiction.”

KTTH Freedom Series: State policies created WA crime crisis

We Heart Seattle is a grassroots coalition, according to Suarez, that was founded in 2021. The organization has picked up approximately one million pounds of trash while aiding more than 175 people off the streets with privately funded donations from volunteers.

“I think it’s important to point out there’s the homeless industrial complex,” Suits said during the forum. “On the West Coast of the U.S., common sense comes to bat after everyone else has struck out.”

“Imagine being a cop who sees a bunch of political prosecution of cops who sees political leaders and leadership in their own chain throwing you under the bus or not caring about you. What are your chances of having your best day at your job?” Betts said. “Imagine going call to call to call, you’re four hours late, and you didn’t sign up not to do your job. The chances that you’re going to provide the level of service that everybody’s paying the taxes for, it’s not good.”

While Seattle and other cities in the Puget Sound region are struggling to maintain police staffing over the last five years, the City of Kent has a nearly fully-staffed police department, but it’s still not enough according to Ralph.

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

“We are fully staffed for the number of officers we have a budget for, which is very different than being a fully-staffed police department,” Ralph said. “Data shows that Washington state is 51st in staffing per capita for police. 51st. Let that sink in.”

Listen to the full discussion below:

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
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KTTH Freedom Series: WA still suffering from crime, homelessness