Last week, a shooting in downtown Seattle left many concerned about general safety downtown and elsewhere in the city. A disagreement erupted near McDonald's and multiple men exchanged gunfire, shooting into a crowd that included many tourists and commuters. At the time of this writing, two of the men believed to be involved are still being sought by police.
Legislative Response to Seattle Shooting
In the aftermath of the shooting, state and local lawmakers have proposed many different measures to target violence downtown and elsewhere in the state.
State senators and representatives discussed different approaches to the shooting, including a bill that would allow Washington State Patrol to destroy seized weapons, expanding services for addiction and mental health, and other measures that would tighten access to firearms across the state. Some state lawmakers said that the shooting could end up being a "theme" of the 2020 legislative session.
The Seattle city council also discussed possible measures to enact in response to the incident. Councilperson Lewis (who represents the area of downtown Seattle) put forth a proposal to increase police presence but also introduce "Community Storefronts," centers that would be open 24 hours a day and staffed by Seattle police officers, community service officers, and social workers. The Storefront would serve to increase access to necessary services for those in need as well as help citizens with other public services.
Public Anger Expressed at Meeting
Local news reported that the "a floodgate of frustration" was opened at the city council's safety committee meeting earlier this week. Residents showed up en mass to express their disappointment over safety concerns in the wake of the shooting. Dozens of the attendees signed up for a two-minute slot to speak.
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best attended the meeting to brief the council and to listen to the concerns shared by the public. She informed the public that she did hear their concerns, but she also reminded attendees that crime rates had been down overall across the city. Those in attendance were not placated. Several landlords spoke up and claimed that residents were leaving Seattle due to safety concerns. "We have data to show they are not renewing their leases. Their clients and customers don't feel safe,” claimed one property manager.
Many who attended the meeting claimed that the city and the King County judicial system are not holding repeat offenders accountable. Angry meeting attendees expressed that they want more jail time for violent offenders. In addition to attending the safety meeting, a group labeling itself Speak Out Seattle has started a petition to collect 100,000 signatures in hopes of demanding solutions to the "repeat offender crisis."
Seattle Criminal Defense
Citizens have every right to express their concerns for their own safety. However, lawmakers should not hastily legislate in the wake of a high-profile event. Increasing punishments as a knee-jerk reaction could have serious consequences. If you've been charged with a criminal offense in Seattle, you deserve a fair fight. Have former King County prosecutor Steve Karimi by your side. Contact our office today to discuss your case.