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Seattle Police Promise Better Response To Property Crime

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Paula Wissel
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It can take Seattle police 45 minutes to be dispatched to property crime scenes.

Seattle police promise to do a better job of dealing with property crime.

They acknowledge current response times are too slow. When someone calls 911, it can take 45 minutes for an officer to be dispatched to the scene of a burglary or car prowl.

Seattle Police Department Chief Operating Officer Mike Wagers told the Seattle City Council Public Safety Committee that it really hit home for him when he heard a story from Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole.

“One sort of famous story the chief tells often is that someone said calling the SPD is worse than calling Comcast,” Wagers said.

In other words, the department is reputed to be worse than the cable company in terms of responsiveness.

The problem, Wagers says, is when you call in a so-called low-level crimes like a  home break in, you’re automatically put in a queue until the dispatcher can get around to  you. He says the plan is to revisit how calls are being prioritized and to try new, more responsive software so the experience isn’t so frustrating.

Police also say they’ll now be more aggressive in trying to retrieve stolen items like iPhones with GPS devices on them. There was reluctance on the part of police because cops on the street weren't clear about the legal ramifications. There was concern that arresting someone using tracking data wouldn't hold up in court.

The Seattle Police Department plans to have a legal "technical point of contact" available 24 hours a day to respond to officer's questions surrounding the use of tracking devices on stolen electronics to catch thieves.

In the next few weeks, Wagers says the department will also issue a memo to officers clarifying policy regarding stolen electronics.

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KNKX since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.