Downtown Seattle business owners react to plans for repeat, violent offenders

SEATTLE -- Community members are weighing in on Seattle’s proposed pilot program to manage repeat criminal offenders.

City and King County officials have come up with four pilot programs that range in solutions from counseling to treatment and shelter.

In February, the Downtown Seattle Association and partners ranging from neighborhood groups to businesses released a System Failure Report.

The report highlighted cracks in the criminal justice system leading to repeated criminal activity. It specifically showed cases from 100 individuals who committed over 600 crimes in a span of two years.

“In the downtown, we’ve seen a 43 percent increase in crimes against people in a two-year period, which is really alarming for us,” said Jon Scholes, President/CEO of Downtown Seattle Association. “We’re seeing some of the same folks committing some of the same crimes in some of the same corners with some of the same victims.”

Scholes believes the pilot programs are a good first step. He says meaningful reform is going to take time.

“I think with any pilot the important thing is to evaluate,” said Scholes. “In six months from now, nine months from now, we need to look. Is this working? Are we seeing a reduction on crimes against people and property crime?"

Business owners like Ty Myers of Fenix Tattoo in Pioneer Square say the pilot programs aren’t going to work.

“(Mayor Jenny Durkan) is doubling down on what doesn’t work,” said Myers. “You know what works, heavy, aggressive law enforcement. They have to arrest people, they have to prosecute people and they have to jail people. If you do wrong, there will be a punishment.”

Myers said he was attacked with a syringe outside his business, and has even gotten into a fight in the lobby of his shop.

“Guy is reaching for the gun in his ankle and doesn’t get arrested. Come on man, eventually, I’m going to get killed,” said Myers.