King County, Washington. – Criminal activity in Western Washington has caused some business owners to close stores, while others who remain open have had to deal with the danger of increased crime.
The Seattle South Chamber of Commerce is working to address these issues, bringing district public safety leaders and community members to the negotiating table to discuss issues affecting business and potential resources to address them.
“Clearly, public safety is the number one concern of our members. This event is about making these presentations, providing these resources and connecting our community with the public safety department that serves our region,” said Anne McGrath, president of Seattle Chief Executive Officer of the Southern District Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber represents businesses in Breen, Des Moines, Normandy Park, SeaTac and Tukwila. On October 19, the organization will host its first regional public safety roundtable with leaders from each city, hoping to find new solutions to common problems they face.
“Public safety is economic development. To strengthen our region and enrich our communities, we need to create a safe space for businesses to contribute to the economic vitality of our community,” said Sammie Le, executive vice president of the Seattle South Chamber of Commerce. “We want to get everyone to sit down and discuss common trends and how each city can address each trend and resource available to the business community.”
Burien Police Department Acting Chief Todd Morrell will be one of the participants in the Public Safety Roundtable. He said he hoped that members of the community listening to the discussions would understand the importance of submitting reports.
“People are frustrated. Businesses are frustrated, and that sometimes manifests as underreporting. Frustration is justified. ‘Why call the police? Nothing is going to happen? They’re not going to do anything anyway.'” Underreporting Actual Upstream will have downstream effects. It affects how I deploy my resources, it affects crime statistics,” Morell said. “It exacerbates victimization, because if we don’t know when and where things are happening, it’s hard to devise strategic ways to correct them. . “
Tyler Steed, a Meineke technician in Des Moines, said the auto shop is going through a tough time due to growing problems of homelessness and open drug use.
“Last year, if you asked me how we were doing here, I could tell you we were a million-dollar store because we were there. Now it’s really going downhill,” Steed said.
The store is located on Pacific Highway South, a growing center of criminal activity. At one point, the Des Moines Police Department conducted focused patrols on the highway to reduce crime.
Steed said pen drug use happens frequently, sometimes in front of customers.
“I saw someone standing in the middle of our parking lot hitting the foil. It needs to change. This needs to go away,” Steed said. “Maybe every other day I kick someone out of our dumpster. Not even just diving in the dumpster, they’re doing drugs right behind the dumpster. Everyone can see it, they can smell it it.”
The business community in southwest King County is grappling with similar public safety challenges. It also happened in Western Washington and the state.
“We know that the cities we serve are not alone in their challenges and opportunities. So providing everyone with a platform for this conversation is a unique positioning for us to be able to do that,” McGrath said.
“We’re not alone. We’ve all been through this, and we’re all actively working to keep our communities safe,” Le said.
The South Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s Public Safety Roundtable is free to attend on Wednesday, October 19 from 7-8:30pm on Zoom. Registration is available on the Chamber of Commerce website.