Mayor Bruce Harrell • Wikimedia Commons

Early in 2022, Mayor Bruce Harrell announced a plan to intensify police presence at the crime “hot-spot” of 12th and Jackson, which is a site of drug use, drug sales, and an informal market of cheap goods, including stolen goods. The strategy included a mobile police precinct and more regular patrols. Harrell also intentionally included 12th and Jackson among the areas his April 2023 Downtown Activation Plan will focus on.

Mayor Harrell said at an August 25 Ethnic Media Roundtable that he is still confident in the city’s long term strategy on 12th and Jackson, even if some in the neighborhood would like to see quicker changes in the area, or a crackdown on drug use, drug dealing, and sales of stolen goods in the area.

“The first thing we have to recognize is how bad the problem is,” Harrell said during the briefing for representatives of ethnic media outlets in the Seattle area attended by the International Examiner. “There’s fencing of stolen goods, there’s drug use, there’s drug dealing, there are people who have absolutely lost their way. And there are store owners that are in on it as well.”

“What we’re trying to do is create a healthy gem in that area,” Harrell continued. “What we’re trying to do is reach that balance of having effective policing, training, education, health treatment, and not decimate an area where there’s a guns blazing approach, but a compassionate approach.”

Harrell said police officers are doing community outreach in the area, and the city is working with community-based organizations. Harrell acknowledged that the large numbers of people using drugs in the area is “staggering.”

“People get impatient, they want immediate results. I want sustainable results, I want quick action and sustainable action,” Harrell said. “We feel pretty good that our downtown activation plan will help reset community norms.”

Harrell said a combination of hiring more police officers, policing strategies, and drug treatment strategies will “get a better result here in the near future. But I will tell you, it’s really tough work.” Harrell added that the city is considering investing in certain capital projects to build housing in the area, which he said could improve the area’s health and safety.

Tin Pak contributed reporting.  

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