Seattle to vote Tuesday on contract that would make police highest-paid in state

SEATTLE -- The Seattle City Council is set to vote Tuesday on a proposed contract for Seattle Police Officers.

Seattle Police have been without a contract for nearly four years, and Mayor Jenny Durkan, Police Chief Carmen Best, and Councilwoman Lorena Gonzalez all pushed for the contract during a community safety tour in West Seattle on Monday.

While the proposed contract has faced some sharp criticism from police reform advocates, both Mayor Durkan and Chief Best say they fear the city will lose more officers if the contract isn’t passed.

And some West Seattle business owners say they need more police to help them combat the crime, now.

Business owners along California Avenue in West Seattle shared their concerns over public safety and property crime, as Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best and Councilwoman Lorena Gonzalez listened.

Hundreds of businesses call the West Seattle junction home. From retail and restaurants, to small coffee shops, business owners say the area is growing and with it more aggressive criminal behavior.

That’s why the West Seattle Junction Association and SPD collaborated to create the city`s first business block watch. We showed you how it works just last month, allowing business owners to immediately alert each other by text and electronic messaging, regarding crime.

And while the program is working according to business owners, they still want to see more officers out and about.

“We need more police, particularly in our business district, we’d like to see it vibrant, thriving. The lack of police presence here just allows for disorder and we are really tired of seeing disorder in the street, shoplifting, you know,” says business owner David Montoure.

Best says she agrees and that’s why she,  Durkan and Gonazalez are pushing for the city council to pass the proposed police contract.

“I believe, if this contract does not pass, we are going to lose more officers and we certainly aren’t going to be able to add to the numbers that we have now. We want to increase our visibility and our ability to provide public safety and we just can’t do that without people,”  Best said.

West Seattle isn’t the only neighborhood asking for more police on the streets. Community and business leaders are asking for the same in neighborhoods like Pioneer Square, SODO and Ballard.

For now, this block watch is a way for people in West Seattle to take crime prevention into their own hands.

“What we would like to see is just more community police officers here in the junction, on the streets. We know their names, they know the names of our business owners, and what that will do is it will connect people together,’ says Lora Radford of the West Seattle Junction Association.

As for the proposed police contract, a federal judge will have to sign off on it if it’s passed by the city council because of the federal consent decree with Seattle Police against biased policing.