Bus shooting raises issue of downtown Seattle safety

SEATTLE -- Mayor Mike McGinn on Monday praised the response time of Seattle police officers after the morning's downtown bus shooting.

“There were two officers right on the scene when this occurred,” McGinn said at a news conference.

It was just a few weeks ago that a group of downtown business leaders criticized the mayor for allegedly letting downtown violence get out of hand, and urged him to hire more officers.

That plea for more cops came on July 31 in a long and strongly worded letter to the mayor outlining a series of recent problems, including alarming details of eight separate beatings and assaults in the downtown core in just the past few months.

“There’s just too much of it,” said Kate Joncas, president of the Downtown Seattle Association, said in the letter.  “You look at that list, any citizen would say this is not acceptable for my neighborhood.”

Joncas and other leaders called on the mayor to hire more downtown officers.  “We don’t have enough police on the streets,” she said.

On Monday, McGinn commended the Seattle Police Department's seven-minute response time from when the first calls came in of a Metro bus shooting to when the suspect was taken down.  But he also made clear that the city is moving on the requests of the downtown business leaders.

“We’re going to have 30 more (officers) by next year,” McGinn said about the plan for more cops.  “So, we’re working to be responsive to their concerns.”

On Monday, the DSA sent out a short statement praising the police department's “response” and said it awaits more details of the event.

Of the eight incidents that the DSA cited in its July letter, the Seattle Police Department said, arrests were made immediately in four of those cases, just like in Monday's case.

So, the message Monday from SPD is that they are on it.

But it’s fair to say that the issue of downtown safety -- what’s being done, what should be done -- isn’t going away. You can bet it’s going to be part of the mayoral election race.