Chris Grygiel at Seattlepi.com responds to a stunning editorial in today's Seattle Times that says the city needs to hire 20 more officers, pointing out the gaping hole in the paper's argument:
The Times—like the City Council—doesn't suggest what should be cut to free up money to hire the new police. It's highly unlikely the City will hire additional officers next year or the year after. That's because the 2011 deficit will be at least $56 million; the year after that the projected shortfall is almost $53 million. The shortfalls are driven partially by weaknesses in business and sales taxes. ...
If The Times wants to forcefully advocate for hiring more police, fine. But it should get out its own budget knife and tell readers which specific programs or personnel should be let go to accomplish that.
This brain dead argument from the Seattle Times is both flawed and hackneyed (all the news outlets in town have written about the problems with the budget and the lack of any plan for what to eliminate). Meanwhile, the county council Republicans want money for cops but don't want to add revenue, businesses want city services while money is down but don't want to pay more taxes, the council wants more cops but isn't willing to say what it would cut.
Three cheers for Grygiel for calling this out as bullshit. But no one calls bullshit on the Seattle Times quite like... the Seattle Times. The Seattle Times tosses out this accusation today:
McGinn's misguided veto of sensible anti-aggressive-panhandling legislation tells those on the street that the mayor has no plan to combat street disorder. His decision to halt the hiring program reinforces the same message. What is the mayor doing to make streets safer?
To answer its question, the Seattle Times can look no further than its news page from March:
Responding to a growing focus on downtown crime and street problems, Seattle police announced Wednesday they plan to shift some bicycle patrols to foot beats in parts of downtown. ...
Under the plan announced by McGinn and Diaz, foot beats will be added in Belltown, Pioneer Square and the Chinatown International District. Both men said the change will be carried out within the existing budget, in light of the city's current financial restraints.
Then there's this editorial about the efficacy of those foot patrols published by the Seattle Times the same month:
A hybrid plan to have Seattle police bicycle patrols park their bikes for some of the time and walk neighborhoods is a welcome change. The heightened visibility of police on the street will not only improve the perception of public safety but also reduce crime. That prediction is backed up by recent academic research. ...
Results published [in Philadelphia] in February revealed the power of intelligence-fed targeting of foot-patrol officers. Violent crime in target areas decreased 22 percent. Vehicle-related crime decreased 12 percent. Drug-related incident detentions were up 28 percent. Arrests increased 13 percent in target areas.
And last there's this piece last week:
To tamp down after-hours violence, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn on Tuesday announced a plan to redeploy police officers and extend some shifts on Friday and Saturday nights, concentrating more cops on downtown streets. ... With that in mind, more than 20 officers — many currently assigned to Anti-Crime Teams, the night SWAT team, DUI emphasis patrols and other tasks — will focus on Belltown, Pioneer Square and sections of Fourth Avenue South, working until 4 a.m., Diaz said.
Really, who needs to stick it to the Seattle Times when the Seattle Times does such a good job on its own?