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A call for community involvement to help make Seattle safer. Photo by cactusbones.

A call for community involvement to help make Seattle safer. Photo by cactusbones.

KUOW News

McGinn Calls On Community To Help Curb Violence

Liz Jones
02/28/2012

Seattle city leaders say the key to fighting a recent surge of murder and gun violence is, well, you. Mayor Mike McGinn is calling on everyone from teens to shop owners to help make neighborhoods safer. KUOW's Liz Jones reports.

TRANSCRIPT

Seattle police officials call a recent spike in murders and violent crime unprecedented. The city's homicide rate so far this year is triple what it was at this point last year.

Mayor McGinn called a press conference Monday to outline the city's response. He says most of the violence involves young men who are black, or other minorities. He emphasized the need to get more people involved in crime prevention efforts, especially programs that work with kids.

Business owners, pastors and teachers nodded along. But the crowd came alive when a young outreach worker named J'Quai Holiday echoed a similar appeal for help.

Holiday: "We need everybody in here to step their game up, man, I'm going to tell it just like that because we have to get out here and show the kids that we love them because that's all they're missing man. They really feel like, that nobody cares."

Holiday is with the YMCA program, Alive and Free. He considers himself lucky some people helped pull him out of criminal activity when he was younger. But he says even small gestures can make a big difference to kids who are caught up in a bad situation.

Holiday: "Saying hello, giving them a smile, shake some hands. Figure out what you can do. Find your part. I'm not asking you do to a lot. You know, do what's comfortable to you but do something. That's all. Just do something."

City leaders plan to keep working with residents on ways to make neighborhoods safer.

The nine murders so far this year happened in various areas, from Rainier Valley to Green Lake. That's prompted police to reassigning more officers to patrol crime hot spots throughout the city.

Deputy Police Chief Nick Metz spoke at the same press conference, and he warned that the officers are taking a hard line.

Metz: "We will be constitutional in our policing, we will be ethical in our policing but we will be aggressive. And to those who are determined to hurt others in the form of violence, you need to hear this: We will come after you."

A police spokesman says there's no set number of extra officers assigned to these new violence prevention patrols. Instead, each precinct will decide how many officers are needed at a certain hot spot on any given night.

I'm Liz Jones, KUOW News.

© Copyright 2012, KUOW

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