As a follow up to my “Why the police won’t come running” story last week, I asked the Seattle Police to respond to my commentary--and they did.
Officer Timothy Greeley, who is the community liaison officer for Madison Park, agreed with the thrust of the story but had a few clarifications to add. While it is true, he said, that there is no regular patrol for Madison Park, there is a “beat car” assigned to the Charlie 3 beat, which includes Madison Park. That patrol, he said, tends to focus on the “hot spots” of the beat “and you’re not one of them, fortunately for you.”
He noted that Charlie 3 (which also includes Madison Valley, Montlake and parts of Madrona and Capitol Hill), is one of the biggest beats in the City; so while there’s a lot of action on the beat—it’s just not usually in the Park. Greeley indicated that if there’s an on-going problem within the beat that can’t be handled by the regular beat patrol, he would get involved in directing additional police resources to deal with the problem.
What message would the Seattle Police most like to communicate to Madison Park residents concerned about potential criminal behavior in the neighborhood? “Call 911” he said. “Don’t hesitate if you hear or see anything suspicious, call immediately.”
Greeley reports that many people are afraid to call 911, thinking that their problem may not be an emergency and that the line should be used only for emergencies. But the 911 system is used primarily for dispatching police officers to investigate anything that needs investigation, he said. The 911 operators are well trained to move non-emergency calls to the right department. The system is also used to evaluate the volume of crime incidents and help allocate police resources, he said.
Greeley commented that when there were recent incidents of suspicious activities at the Park, not one resident called 911 to report it. The only way the police found out about the problem, he said, was the result of calls from the media and from citizens calling non-emergency police phone numbers, ones that don’t necessarily have 24/7 coverage (such as his).
“It’s not possible to tie up the 911 phone line,” he told me. “It’s a great piece of technology, so use it.”