The last Southwest Precinct Leader? Captain Kevin Grossman shares his views – Westside Seattle

30July 2020

The Seattle City board will vote Aug. 10 on a spending plan rebalancing procedure that could result in a cut to the Seattle Police Spending Plan of 50%. The proposal supported by King County Equity Now and Legalize Seattle also requires that as soon as passed the Council should reallocate those funds to neighborhood led health and wellness systems and release protestors arrested throughout this uprising without charges.

Seven of nine council members have actually expressed support for the relocation however the Seattle Cops Guild has stated the defunding of the SPD would imply that as much as 800 officers (over half in the department) would be fired. It would also imply longer 911 response times and higher criminal activity rates.

They’ve introduced a website www.stopdefunding.com to stop the defunding that they state has actually gotten more than 10,000 signatures supporting them.

Chief Carmen Finest has actually reacted in a letter to the Mayor detailing her opposition to the cuts and stating the Southwest Precinct would have to be closed among numerous other impacts.

Handling the management role at a Police precinct is an obstacle at any time. Offered the current level of uncertainty about the role of authorities in society it ends up being a task with typically more concerns than responses.

Captain Kevin Grossman, is the new commander at the Seattle Police Southwest Precinct and he sat for some questions from Westside Seattle about where we are, his concerns, and where we are going.

How did Captain Davis and others prepare you for this role?

I need to give credit to former Chief Kathleen O’Toole who really developed the department’s capability for data mining and data sharing, dashboards and that sort of thing. Then every 2 weeks we satisfy in C-Stat (CompStat a combination of management, approach, and organizational management tools for cops departments), It gets all the chiefs in the room, all the captains and we all hear what’s trending in our precincts and what issues we’re dealing with. I was the Captain at the South Precinct so Captain Davis and I had actually interacted about numerous things like homelessness, like the Recreational Vehicle’s, they went back and forth throughout the Duwamish, to SODO, Georgetown and South Park. We had a great deal of problems in typical such as cars and truck theft with cars and trucks being taken and discarded in another precinct. Covid 19 and the closure of the West Seattle Bridge have dropped the crime rate in West Seattle by 17% over last year. Tape-record low criminal offense rates in West Seattle. West Seattle is the very best in the city in regards to crime rate drop. The one area we are up in is vehicle theft. It’s hard to get a deal with on and it’s a home criminal activity. Our criminal justice system doesn’t manage it right. There are low effects. So you have these people, and we’ll apprehend them, even multiple days in a row for car theft and they simply get out each time. It might be little number of people committing these thefts but there isn’t a whole lot to hinder them.

What about “The Club” or other theft deterrent devices?

When I was a young officer in the North precinct. I was coupled with a really very senior officer and I remember going to a vehicle theft report with him. One of the check boxes on the form was, you had to ask if there was any kind of steering wheel lock on the car. He asked me, “Have you yet taken a taken cars and truck report from anyone who’s had among those on their car?” I thought of it and stated, “No I have not.” I have actually never had somebody state, “I had the club on my cars and truck and yet my vehicle was still taken.” So I’m a huge believer in some sort of steering wheel lock gadget … Many lawbreakers are looking for the shortcut.

What about the potential closure of the precinct that has been discussed?

It’s concerning for sure. I spoke to my officers … and informed everyone to take a deep breath. I in fact had officers asking me if they would be getting a pink slip … I have actually been informed a few of them are aiming to move laterally to other places. I understand that’s alarmist but I don’t expect we will be closing the precinct anytime quickly. However I am concerned. When I was in field training in the South Precinct, and the Bridge was open, even then the reaction time was not terrific. So if they close this facility, it will be staffed out of the South Precinct as it was in the 90’s and previously. You’ll have officers needing to come all the method over here from there. However to be totally truthful, the officers who work here identify with West Seattle. Perhaps more than any other place. They feel well treated by the homeowners here and appreciated. They feel a connection to the neighborhoods they operate in. If they were to be staffed out of the Rainier Valley, that’s where they would park their cars and trucks, where they would compose reports, where they would get their lunch. They would only come by here to answer calls. That would be a huge loss for the connection for the officers here.

Have calls to defund the cops hurt the spirits in the department?

I believe it has … If you look at the list of services we ‘d have to potentially eliminate … We have actually included 200,000 individuals to the city in the last decade and yet our staffing has not actually altered all that much because the 70’s … On the patrol side you have simply shy of 700 officers, working across 3 different shifts throughout five different precincts. It’s not a lot officers when you consider it. Officers see that and, if they are going to have a job and if they do, what that job would appear like. Is it simply going call, to call, to call? If you worked for a company that paid you well, provided you good benefits but consistently treated you poorly, called you names, denigrated you as a human, I do not know that you ‘d keep working for that company. I’m promoting myself however when all I hear out of our chosen officials is nothing however contempt for what we do … I consider myself a dedicated public servant. I’ve been doing cops work for 24 years. I do this out of a sense of neighborhood and a sense of service. I think the majority of people sign up for that … they want to make a distinction in their career. To be called a killer, to have this stereotype of me as a policeman who concerns work to shoot individuals or kill individuals? I do not recognize that. It’s not what I see in myself. It’s not what I see in my officers. To have that consistent rhetoric from our chosen authorities, it beats you down.

We’ve spoken with others in the SPD that individuals are leaving the department. How do you hire?

I have good friends in other parts of the nation who see the news. How do you encourage a 20 something college graduate who is looking to be a police officer, how do you convince them Seattle is the ideal place? It’s a difficult sell today.

Why do the authorities not have much better tools to deal with violent people?

I would like to have much better tools or technology that would permit us to use less force. I believe everybody would be on the very same page if we had something that would allow us to use less force. Pepper spray for example is a tool that we use that doesn’t trigger for the most part, as far as I know, long-term damage. My point is, if you eliminate something like Pepper Spray and you are left with a baton. If you looked at the riots in Chicago in 1968, they did a lot of things we would not do today however all they had were batons. They cause a great deal of damage if that’s your only technique to move a crowd or control somebody. We’ve had a great deal of training in the last decade attempting to utilize verbal strategies and be more client with people on the street. 20 years ago we wouldn’t have actually been so patient … I ‘d rather have you work out with somebody for two hours and not have to utilize force than deal with the scenario in 5 minutes utilizing force, needing to hurt people. We have as a luxury the staffing to have numerous officers on a call. If you can have two or 3 officers bring somebody down by holding their arms so no one gets hurt, I ‘d much rather have that.

Exist other restraints than handcuffs you could utilize?

When the consent decree began, we had to submit a report every time somebody suffered injury by handcuffs. I think it triggered officers to be more thoughtful about their usage of handcuffs … One thing, you can lock them so they don’t get tighter. When officers compose their reports they need to keep in mind if the cuffs were “gaged and locked” which indicates you put them on, make certain they are not too tight, but that they will not slip off and lock them so they won’t get tighter. When I was at South Precinct I worked with an officer who made a lot of arrests and he noted that individuals were experiencing injuries so he checked out another kind of cuffs that had actually beveled edges. ‘I bought a set myself and they seem to be working’ he said. So I brought that up to then Asst. Chief Wilske and he made a pilot job out of it and ended up buying them for the entire bureau. Everybody in SPD has actually been issued beveled cuffs.

Many police trainings outside the department are called Warrior design training. What is your mindset about this?

It’s so counter productive, the United States vs Them mentality. I don’t want anyone to see us as an inhabiting force or anything like that. When I went to the academy more than 24 years ago I will say it was more of a warrior training. Take legal action against Rahr the previous Sheriff and now Executive Director of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission. She really has actually done a good job in making the full transition to “We’re not warriors. We’re guardians of the communities we serve”. Every graduate that comes out of the Washington State Academy has that core foundational training.

I make it an indicate meet with every brand name new officer to get to know them. I wish to provide my viewpoint of policing is that it’s a service occupation. I was an Eagle Scout and I think it comes from my background in searching that service to others is what we’re everything about. I’m not a huge fan of the term “law enforcement” because that’s just one little bit of what we do. When I came out of law school, I was interested in going to the FBI … I chose policing. Policing is safeguarding the susceptible, securing children, securing the senior. I like to think about policing as the oil that makes the machinery of society work. We’re making that traffic flows and that commerce flows and that people aren’t benefited from. Yes, sometimes we’re going to put handcuffs on individuals since they choose to break the laws that our chosen authorities have actually developed. However that’s rare. We do a ton of mediation of disputes.

The cops are called to do lots of things that maybe they should not. What locations should the authorities not be managing?

Homelessness concerns, adding that to the plate of cops tasks. Cops are expensive due to the fact that of the training and equipment we have and I desire us to be really sensible in how we utilize well trained and equipped policeman, and whether it’s the very best suitable for the job. A great deal of homelessness is drug abuse problems, a lot of it is mental health issues and policemans just aren’t going to repair that.

The outreach to homeless folks is much better accomplished by the psychological health and drug abuse specialists.

I really like the Cahoots design (practiced in Eugene Oregon for the last thirty years.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ben Brubaker Organizer of the White Bird Center in Eugene stated in an interview on NPR “Calls that can be found in to the police non-emergency number and/or through the 911 system, if they have a strong behavioral health component, if there are calls that do not appear to need law enforcement since they do not include a legal problem or some sort of severe danger of violence or risk to the individual, the private or others, then they will route those to our group – comprised of a medic and a crisis employee – that can head out and react to the call, assess the scenario, help the private if possible, and then help get that individual to a higher level of care or essential service if that’s what’s actually required”).

I believe it’s a terrific concept and the good side of “Defund the Police”, let’s have a discussion about what’s proper.

We seem to have lost a specific quality of relationship between the authorities and the general public. Why is that and what can we do to repair it?

The 2 factors that have truly put a knife in the heart of neighborhood and police relations are the 911 system and policing by cars and truck. Would I eliminate those? Obviously not. They are substantial advances and good ideas. However we over rely on 911. My officers are going from call to call. A few of these calls might be dealt with over the internet or with a phone call. We’re taking reports for insurer for crashes. I do not see why we need an armed police officer for that. When my officers are going from call to call they can’t hang around with the community to actually develop relationships.

Policing by automobile allows us to address a lot more calls and we can police a broader area. However it implies they spend more time in their cars and trucks. That’s my concern about decreased staffing. Unless we have that conversation about what calls are addressed by 911 and what’s not? You’ll have a fewer variety of officers to address the exact same variety of 911 calls.

EDITOR’S KEEP IN MIND: In 2019 Seattle Cops had 461,334 calls for service. You can learn more about all require every year going back to 2010 on the SPD Calls for Service Dashboard

The control panel shows that in 2019:

Alaska Junction had 7,116

HighPoint 5162

Highland Park 5038

Alki had 5026

North Admiral 4974

North Delridge 3641

Morgan Junction 3504

Fauntleroy 1821

Industrial Duwamish 1069

Now that we have reduced speed limitations as part of SDOT’s Vision Absolutely no plan, is there a prepare for speed enforcement in the works?

I am going to start looking at that. I have actually gotten grievances about different locations of the district. They are low and individuals have to be patient. I may ask our traffic area to bring their motorbike officers over to do emphasis patrols. I am still trying to find out where to do it. It’s resource reliant. Enforcement has a place but I doubt about its long term impacts. For long term engineering is more effective like road diets, speed bumps I would be willing to work with SDOT and the community to advocate for those tasks.

The RV’s on Harbor Ave SW are no longer moving every 72 hours. Can you fill us in on that?

The Mayor has actually put a moratorium on moving Recreational vehicles where individuals are residing in them in addition to the encampments. This is to decrease the spread of COVID. At the minute we are not moving them. We still get problems and we still do some outreach. A lot of it is gentle motivation to get rid of trash or to get resources to them. It’s a constant effort.

For a long time the Police Blotter was a function of the newspaper but it concerned an end last year when we were informed staffing was making it too challenging. What can we do about that?

I believe in openness. I want individuals of West Seattle understanding what we’re doing. I’ve been promoting for my own Twitter represent awhile and I hear that might be pertaining to fulfillment. We use Next Door right now because that’s what I’ve been informed we can use. But I have actually been informed by Sgt. Truscott that we are about do something that makes the most of something we currently do. We have a list of what are called Major Events. The Sgt. needs to do a little piece on what it was and how it was fixed. It kind of checks out like a blotter. What I have actually been informed is that it’s almost to be presented, pushed out to the general public so you can see it, sort it by precinct and will come out routinely.

Back in the 1970’s we had a “beat police officer” in the junction that everyone understood. It produced a sense of trust and familiarity. What are the opportunities we might do that once again at some point?

It’s so staffing reliant at the moment. I do not see being able to do it. But as we talked about formerly, if we can have a sincere discussion about what calls need a police officer and what calls can be handled some other way that might maximize officers to do something like that. Possibly some of this will take place because of the budget. Even before COVID, we were speaking about how to allocate resources. Among the important things I inform my officers is “own your district” I want you to be the law enforcement officer for that district. I desire people in that district to understand you. That’s my perfect.

You’ve had numerous tasks as a police officer What do you wish to achieve in West Seattle?

I want this to be the very best precinct in Seattle. I want us to have the most determined officers. I want my investigator squad to be the very best at what they do. i have an ACT (anti crime group) and I desire them to be the best and be appreciated by other ACT groups in the city. I desire people to believe they can talk with us and inform us what their priorities remain in regards to enforcement. I actually depend on the community to inform me what is affecting their lifestyle.

Individuals can interact with me through Next Door, or email at kevin.Grossman@Seattle.gov!.?.!., Neighborhood Conferences, which I believe are extremely important.Source: westsideseattle.com

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