From a crime perspective, Seattle’s performance this year is not good. The monthly average of violent crimes (including homicide, severe assault, rape, and robbery) is 10% higher than in 2020, increasing from 371 to 408. More and more regular.
Downtown Seattle is one of the neighborhoods with the highest crime rate, just as it prepares for the return of thousands of technology company employees in the new year.
This begs the question: How will law enforcement in Seattle respond to crime, the sharp decline in available police, and many other problems the city faces, from surveillance restrictions to changes in technology to combat crime?
Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz (Adrian Diaz) joined GeekWire this week to discuss where he wants to take the Seattle Police Department in the next year. The following answers have been edited for brevity and clarity. Watch the full interview below.
GeekWire: Director Diaz, thank you very much for joining us. You have seen a sharp rise in violent crime in Seattle-there were four shootings last weekend. Would you tell those who are going back to work in the city center, some of them feel that there is no longer a very safe place?
Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz: We fully understand people’s concerns and we have been working with groups in the city on restoration work to ensure that our downtown is safe and vibrant. We are working hard to get as many people out as possible. This is really helpful. This is indeed the basis for crime prevention. When we can get more people to go out, interact, shop and do different things, it actually helps prevent some criminals from seeing opportunities to commit crimes and actually taking advantage of these crimes.
GW: There is a problem with the negotiation on the use of body cams. The issue of municipalities stopping the use of facial recognition technology has always existed. What do you think of the police collecting data now? Do you think it is enough to do enough policing in Seattle?
Diaz: It is important that we research new technologies to try to ensure the safety of our cities.One thing I strongly advocate is ShotSpotter. It can help us shorten the response time to shooting incidents. It picks up sounds related to gunfire. It does not focus on people’s conversations, it is not a big brother system. It pays great attention to actual gunshots. This system is connected to our dispatch system. It actually picks it up when (shooting) occurs, and it does create a more effective response time for that specific area.
We can study some technologies that can make better and more effective responses to public safety issues. And this is exactly what we want to focus on. We want to make sure that even if we focus on a technology, we will pay attention to the impact it may have on our black and brown communities. We want to make sure that we have very strict restrictions, and we have been reviewing our efforts to use this level of technology.
GW: What is your technical wish list?
Diaz: I mentioned ShotSpotter as one of them, something I will pay attention to and promote.
Our city is often subject to domestic threats. I do think that using a camera may be helpful, not only for traffic, but also for other ways.
But what I really care about are things that make our investigations more efficient. Because we are vacancies, we must find a way to deal with our records management system. We just updated with a technology company.
In addition, how do we create a more efficient online reporting system? Due to COVID, we now get 38% to 40% of reports online. We want to make sure that it is a system that is easy for community members to navigate. Therefore, we are studying the kind of technology or software that enables us to capture these types of reports.
GW: You are dealing with 300 fewer police officers Than before the pandemic. How do you conduct recruitment work?
Diaz: This is the difficult part of management and leadership during this time, because we are doing everything we can to recruit and hire. We promote and encourage the City Council to pass the incentives we propose in terms of recruitment and retention.
When you compete in a city like Seattle, where you own the tech industry of Amazon and Microsoft and all these different companies-many people can work in one of these companies and work from home, earning six figures. It’s hard to say,’Hey, come and be a Seattle policeman.
When you look at people across the country who want to join the police department, people will come to Seattle because of our national reputation and dealing with people in crisis and responding to riots. We are indeed ahead of the country in many areas, and we are continuing to learn, adapt and develop. Even from the events of last year and the impact of the riots on the community, we still need to make adjustments.
This is why the Seattle Police Department is so special-we really have this growth mentality. We are really focused on always adjusting and figuring out ways we can do better. This is what attracts people to join us. But when you compete with other technology organizations, it’s hard when they have other incentives.
GW: Talk about outsourcing. Obviously, you may want to see a lot of tasks, and the tasks (police) want to see may have been deleted from their plate. What are these tasks?
Diaz: We have undertaken a lot of work that other entities might do because we are a 24/7 organization. Can we not participate in things related to homelessness? I think there are better social services that can do a lot of this kind of work.
We now respond to nearly 11,000 crisis calls every year. We found that our actual use of force was only 1.5%. Therefore, we have done a very good job in finding ways to downgrade and provide people with the services and resources they need, but I don’t think we are the best entity for this type of work.
When I look at mental health, I look at the capabilities of the mental health system-they are fully loaded. It will take years for them to truly build up their ability to solve problems. So now the police department is doing this work. But I do see in the future that this is something I hope we don’t have to be at the forefront.