Belltown anti-crime effort targets repeat offenders

Belltown anti-crime effort targets repeat offenders
SEATTLE - In an effort to clean up crime in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood, Mayor Mike McGinn says he's working with police and other groups to target repeat offenders.

Specifically, he says, Seattle police have their eyes on 50 people who, altogether, have been arrested 2,500 times.

The emphasis begins with the beat cops who already patrol the Belltown area on a regular basis.

But the mayor says he's also getting the Human Services Department, the Office Of Housing and even the Seattle Municipal Court to work together on making these streets safer.

"We're doing that," says McGinn. "We're sitting down with the command staff just a couple of weeks ago, talking about how we could change our deployments to get a greater police presence down in that area."

It's news that has some people who work and live in Belltown rejoicing.

"There's great businesses here," says Angela-Jordan Aguilar, who works in Belltown. "You'll go and have a good meal and then go out to the club after, and you're having a great night and then you go out - and that's kind of what you see."

She is talking about repeated bouts of violence.

Last month, a group of men jumped Belltown doorman Matt Hale - and now he's fighting through a tough recovery.

To tackle the problem on his own, one of the owners of Bedlam Coffee handed out letters to drug dealers - asking them to go away.

Months later, Bedlam Coffee's customers and workers know the problems in Belltown haven't gone away - yet.

"It's scary. I mean, we've had threats, we've all gotten attacked, we've all gotten into fights - but it's our neighborhood, and it's worth fighting for," says Bedlam Coffee co-owner Charlie Monroe.

Nearby at Mama's Mexican Kitchen - a place that's called Belltown home since 1974 - the owner has seen the neighborhood crime change.

"It's probably more spread out now - like it's on quite a few corners, and I don't really feel like it's a lot of public safety issues. It's more harassment and it looks bad," says Mike McAlpin, owner of Mama's Mexican Kitchen.

McAlpin is happy about the mayor's new initiative - and he's hoping something like a curfew can be enforced in the future.

Cleaning up crime in Belltown may take some time - but the mayor says he's working on it.

"I don't know - I'll believe it when it starts happening, but we're going to keep on fighting as much as we can till it happens," says Monroe.

Meanwhile, the mayor says he - and everyone he's working with - will focus on those 50 offenders and see what can be done to keep them off the streets for good.