Seattle beats redrawn to reflect changing neighborhoods
The plan aims to give officers more time to know their neighborhoods and better ability to back one another up.
By SCOTT GUTIERREZ
SEATTLE, Wash. — For the first time in a few years, Seattle Police Officer Debra Pelich had to adjust to a new beat.
On Friday, she drove around First Hill and lower Capitol Hill in the newly formed "David 3" sector, taking note of parks, side streets, the hot spots, and the usual transients. She planned to visit businesses and even stopped to watch a parking attendant collect money from deposit boxes.
"We have these pay-box looters, so I want to know if he really works there. Those are the things you get to know, like who are my regular guys who collect the money?" said Pelich, a 13-year veteran assigned to the West Precinct.
Pelich was one of many officers across the city last week readjusting after the first restructuring of patrol beats in more than 30 years. Precinct boundaries were redrawn and new sectors and beats were formed as part of the Neighborhood Policing Plan, a major initiative to improve 911 service and enable officers to do more "proactive" police work.
As part of the initiative, the city plans to hire 105 more police officers in the next four years. The plan aims to give officers more time to know their neighborhoods and better ability to back one another up.
The Seattle Police Department hadn't changed its patrol districts since the 1970s. Boundaries weren't geared to keep pace with the condominium boom downtown, the expanding South Lake Union neighborhood, or changes expected with light rail in Rainier Valley.
Pelich's last assignment was in South Lake Union, where she watched condos and new buildings sprout seemingly on every other block, bringing more residents downtown to call 911 for domestic violence or auto break-ins.
Her new beat used to be covered by the East Precinct. As she hit the streets around noon, she had new patterns to familiarize with, but so far it was going smoothly, she said.