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December 5, 2013

The Drug Market Initiative (DMI) effort, the operational period for which was over the summer months, wrapped up last week with the “Call-In,” where Chief Pugel, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, and Asst. Chief Paul McDonagh (Patrol Operations Bureau and DMI #1 in 2008 Lead) spoke to two candidates who expressed an interest to change their ways. A now married couple who are 4-years clean, in housing and now working (from DMI #1 in the East Precinct) addressed the two candidates. Three key business owners in the three neighborhoods affected addressed the two, as well. A 5-10 year sentencing range, should they be charged and found guilty, was an invaluable incentive for them to appear for the “Call-In.”. The cases for the other 24 suspects, the range for whom was 1-2 years or 5-10 years based on criminal history, have been submitted to the King County Prosecutor’s Office for charging.

See related Seattle Times article: "SPD: Prosecution for some ID drug dealers, help for others."

For those who are statutorily eligible for pre-trial Stay Out of Drug Area (SODA) probation orders will have that request presented to our King County Superior Court Judges handling initial appearances. These will help ensure they do not return to the neighborhoods where they have offended and re-offended, but have no stake.

This was an overlapping effort with Operation Happy Holidays in the Central Business District and a reminder that working what often seem like intractable problems take planning and time, but create critical leverage points from which a combination of community-police efforts make gains, not just hold status quo. Those efforts include Directed Patrols foot beats using the Koper deployment, Predictive Patrols based on the locations of past criminal activity, as well as efforts by our criminal justice partners to ensure barriers to motivated offenders continue to occur (SODA orders as one example) and accountability for low level offenses. This effort is also a suitable preparation for an expanded LEAD, where collective efficacy (community helping community) is a key component.

I want to say thank you to the following for their hard work and support of this (I hope not to leave out any Unit or organization-my apologies in advance if I do):

SCIDpda, CIDBIA, The Seattle Neighborhood Group (SNG), King County Prosecutors Office, SPD Narcotics Section, West Precinct ACT/CPT/Bike Units, East Precinct Staff, Department of Corrections, KC Metro Transit Police, REACH, Seattle Indian Center, HOST, DESC.

Special recognition to Kay Godefroy and Linda Spain at SNG, DPA Mary Barbosa (King County Prosecutor’s Office Drug Unit), and Officers Lynne Woollum (West CPT) and Chris Kelley (Seattle Police Operations Center and former East CPT [DMI#1].

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving from the West Precinct.

November 20, 2013

OPERATION HAPPY HOLIDAYS

Seattle Police and King County Sheriff’s deputies have wrapped up more than 30 drug dealers and suspected gang members following a months-long undercover operation downtown.

Over the past ninety days, the Seattle Police Department and the King County Sheriff’s Office Metro Transit Police conducted a joint operation to identify narcotics traffickers and other criminals within the Central Business District (CBD), and in particular “hotspots” identified by both agencies.

Other partners in this effort included the Washington State Department of Corrections and King County Prosecutors Office.  Federal partners were the DEA, FBI, and the BATF.  SPD Units involved were the Narcotics Section, Gang Unit, West Precinct Anti-Crime Team and Mountain Bike Squads.

“What started as a request for assistance to our Gang Unit by my Juvenile Hotspot Grant Foot Beat Squad that works Westlake Park and the Third Avenue transportation corridor, led to the development of the operation,” said Captain Jim Dermody, West Precinct Commander.  “We appreciate the ongoing partnership with Metro Transit Police and all of our partners,” he added.

Using a number of investigative methods, felony cases against 40 persons were developed.  Police documented hand-to-hand drug deals and purchased crack cocaine, powder cocaine, pills, and marijuana from street dealers in the downtown core.

This past weekend, the listed agencies conducted the arrest phase of Happy Holidays.  31 out of 40 were arrested and booked into King County Jail. 

Cases appropriate for federal prosecution will be reviewed and adopted if they meet federal prosecutors’ criteria for indictment.

“This operation was about helping downtown businesses and their customers as well as Metro Employees and transit riders downtown,” says Sgt Thomas Flanagan from the KCSO’s Metro Police Unit.

“We were specifically focusing on gang members and dealers in this operation,” says SPD Gang Unit Sergeant Steve Jandoc.  “We didn’t go after addicts.”   Only one of the 40 suspects on a prior occasion has completed an intake into the Belltown LEAD Initiative.

The months long investigation—which also led to police recovering a handgun and evidence of crack cocaine manufacturing at a SoDo motel—was complicated by savvy street dealers, who have taken advantage of recent changes to marijuana laws.
"Dealers will sell marijuana,” Sgt. Jandoc says, “but they like to get to know their customers before they'll sell other drugs.”  Nevertheless, undercover officers were able to buy crack, ecstasy and other drugs from dealers.
SPD’s West Precinct personnel will continue to identify crime and disorder concentrations, use evidence-based methods to intervene, continue to make arrests and use harm reduction methods as appropriate.  SPD and Metro Transit Police will also continue to work together on downtown safety.

In addition to thanking the partners listed here, we want to highlight and especially thank the King County Prosecutors Office Drug Unit and the Superior Court Judges who will present and judge these cases, respectively.  More important than any single arrest is what happens after the arrest.  In particular, we want to thank both for reinvigorating the pre-trial Stay Out of Drug Area (SODA) orders that bar “motivated offenders” from re-entering pre-identified high-drug areas where many have no stake and where they continue to do harm to others, both drug users who are trying to get clean and those who are trying to run businesses and live peacefully.

With SPD West Precinct’s 797 arrest events within the CBD from January 1st-Sept. 30th, many of which are for court issued arrest warrants for repeat offenders, the importance of the court and the prosecutor’s office’s complementary roles in using existing and smart practices to reduce the number of motivated offenders from re-entering and re-offending in our downtown neighborhoods cannot be overstated.  It’s not only good for the neighborhood for those conducting legitimate business, it’s good for the offenders to give them a chance to keep themselves out of trouble.

Captain Jim Dermody
West Precinct Commander
Lifelong Seattle Resident and Second Generation SPD

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