This evening, over 350 Belltown residents and business owners packed into a sweltering meeting hall at the Labor Temple to hear the city's plan to address "the persistent issue of drugs and the pressing issue of violence" in Belltown, as King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Clark so eloquently stated.

The gist of the nightlife safety plan is this: To pluck 20-plus officers who normally work in non-patrol units such as SWAT, anti-crime, and DUI officers, and put them on patrol in Belltown and Pioneer Square "where people are spilling out after bars close and where we expect the biggest crowds," says Assistant Chief Mike Sanford. Four to six officers will be deployed in every other precinct.

So what do residents and business owners think of the plan? Not much, so far.

"It's not about putting more officers on the streets, it's about having the officers out there do their jobs," says Dave Meinert, owner of Belltown's Five Point Cafe. "They need to be arresting crack dealers and aggressive weekend drinkers. This is the same issue that's been going on since the nightclub license war—SPD doesn't have its priorities straight. It's addressing the wrong problem."

"The plan is a day late and a dollar short," says self-described neighborhood activist Zander Batchelder, a 14-year Belltown resident who says security in Belltown hasn't been a SPD priority for years. "City officials talk about creating more urban density, but we can't do that effectively when we're constantly pointing out 'here's where you don't want to live—it's violent'."

But Ariel Sanderson, a 10-year Belltown resident, says SPD's outreach this week is at least a first step in improving years of public safety neglect. "They're here and they're listening—that's a good start. I'm interested in seeing how this plan unfolds. We'll see how the summer goes."

Interim Chief Diaz, who was joined by other representatives from the Seattle Police Department, the KC Prosecuting Attorney's office, and a King County Superior Court Judge, emphasized the need for community engagement and support for the nightlife plan to work. "What I'm going to need from the community is feedback," says Diaz, feedback such as where nightlife problem spots are and how well officers respond to them—the kind of information that residents say they've been giving for years. Residents were also encouraged to go on neighborhood "walk-alongs" with officers to get a sense of what their jobs entail.

The meeting ended with questions from the audience, which underscored public skepticism in how SPD manages its resources. The questions ranged from why SPD hasn't managed to have an impact on downtown street dealers to why the department has so many officers assigned to desk and administrative positions, instead of patrol.

The public safety meeting was arranged by the Belltown Citizens on Patrol (BCOP). SPD's nightlife safety plan kicks off this Friday and will run each Friday and Saturday night throughout summer, with officers patrolling the streets until 4:00 a.m.