By Daria Kroupoderova
Northwest Asian Weekly
Mayor Ed Murray called for an ethnic media press conference to introduce Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole at City Hall on June 25. However, Murray later cancelled O’Toole’s participation “due to a last minute schedule change” two hours before the conference was to begin. Instead, Murray spoke and took questions about public safety.
About a dozen reporters showed up from various media outlets, including the North American Post, Northwest Asian Weekly, AATV, International Examiner, Northwest Vietnamese News, and others.
“Public safety is more than just about police reform,” Murray stated. Public safety, he said, is also about dealing with homelessness, building trust between police and communities, having appropriate social services in place, and having parks and recreation centers offer programs, particularly to the youth.
“We suggested a number of plans we’re going to develop by neighborhood…[for] public safety,” Murray said. Chief O’Toole will be leading the effort in setting up these plans.
Both Chinatown and the Central District have asked for cameras in their neighborhoods for security reasons, which is something Murray said he wants to explore once it is figured out if cameras would infringe upon people’s privacy. Murray also mentioned doing “safety walks” with police and council members throughout Chinatown to identify where problems are.
“Compared to most large cities…Seattle doesn’t have the worst crime statistics in the nation,” Murray said.
There have been several recent shootings in Seattle, including in the Central District on June 1, Seattle Pacific University on June 5, and two in the International District, on June 7 and June 22.
Plans for “community policing” is one of the top priorities for Murray. Getting the police officers out of cars and getting to know people in the neighborhoods is one step toward public safety, he said. Other plans include expanding the community center hours and teen youth programs.
Murray also said that Seattle would not work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“Our police are not going to be involved in helping the federal government…[and] will not be used to arrest anybody simply because of their legal status,” Murray said.
As for O’Toole and her ability to lead the police department, Murray has full confidence.
In response to Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s doubts about O’Toole, Murray said, “I couldn’t disagree more…I think she (O’Toole) has exactly what it takes to be chief of police.”
The mayor said that Police Chief O’Toole’s introduction to the ethnic media will be rescheduled in the following weeks. (end)
Daria Kroupoderova can be reached at email@example.com.