With news crews surrounding him, West Precinct Capt. Jim Dermody stood with Mayor Mike McGinn in front of Hing Hay Park’s pagoda to announce the Seattle Police Department’s patrol plans. The gesture was a loaded one, as the site of Hing Hay Park is one of the “hot spots” identified by the Seattle Police Department. That is, areas which are more susceptible to crime.
As part of its summertime initiative, officers are taking to the streets, leaving the patrol cars behind and patrolling hot spots on foot and, sometimes, by bike. These efforts aim to help officers interact with residents and business owners, gain information, deter crime, and increase police visibility.
However, the press conference was harmful in some ways. Even a press conference — especially one held in front of the Hing Hay pagoda, a symbol of the ID — meant to comfort citizens with the news that police officers will patrol the streets. However, this ultimately sends the message that the ID is an unsafe place, and may discourage traffic to the area. The ID already has a large hill to climb.
For many, the ID is more than a “hot spot,” and the ones who should be visible are the community members who love and cherish the area. What better occasion to reclaim our streets than to fill our streets with festivities? This year, the upcoming Dragon Fest on July 14 and 15 and Seafair parade on July 24 look to redefine the term “hot spot” for the ID.
According to Dennis Su, who helped plan the Seafair parade, the parade will follow a new route, crossing underneath the Chinatown gate for the first time. A review stand will be set up at the Post Office parking lot next to Hing Hay Park. Su encourages everyone to come and take part in this community event, which is open to the general public.
While it is easy to let fear or statistics color our judgment of a particular area, changing the face of a community requires faces be present, that business owners are supported, and the streets are filled with the diversity that this area prides itself on.
What better (and easier) way to take back the community than to walk the streets, enjoy a summer parade, and support local businesses? If the police are here to stay, and they are certainly welcomed, let’s bring forth the warmth of the community and show them what really makes this area “hot.” (end)