We are unhappy to see the first commanding officer of the Southwest police precinct move to the department's largest precinct located in downtown. Capt. Jim Pryor ran a tight ship and led a top-flight unit that kept crime under control. But his replacement has a great record and we are sure he will carry on the tradition.
Some of the residents of various neighborhoods will argue with our view that crime is under control. Alki residents have been steamed at the influx of summer visitors, now more able to drink to excess at the new liquor establishments along the beach. South Park folks have a problem with a county island and a bar frequented by drug dealers and ladies of the evening. Delridge has budding gangs wannabes and associated drugs and burglaries.
So, why do we can say crime is under control? Two reasons. One is that the statistics say that property crimes are a bit up, but violent crimes are down. Second reason is the ability of Pryor to gather representative residents on his Precinct Advisory Committee and then to listen to them.
Too many of our fellow citizens want more policing and lower tax bills. In reality, the Southwest Precinct has a maximum of seven officers per shift on duty for the entire area from Interstate 5 to Puget Sound, and from the city limits to Duwamish Head. Sometimes, when things are popping downtown or elsewhere in the city, there are even fewer officers to cover our 12 square miles.
Lots of miles and lots of potential for those few officers.
Could police do more? Certainly, and the addition of 25 more officers city-wide may help. But reality is that we will be lucky to get one of those new people. There are worse crime areas.
That is the situation that has been inherited by Capt. Mike Fann. He comes to the job with wide experience in various aspects of metro policing. He has done everything from being the "Animal Lieutenant" to strengthening laws against those caught driving with suspended licenses (for explanations, see story, Page One).
Fann does tell us right upfront that he is prone to talk with people and to hear what they say, a trait that will help the department and the citizens of West Seattle. He says, "We need to play by the rules and treat people fair."
But we do urge citizens to take into consideration the large area and the plethora of problems our officers face before berating them for failure to respond instantly to every 911 call (too often, multiple calls come for the same incident).
Mike Fann, we welcome you and the newspaper pledges to work with you and your department by informing our readers of the problems and the solutions whenever possible.
This community is a strong and vibrant place and we are here to cooperate as you serve us.