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Do police response times in Fremont seem slow? It depends

If you’re on Nextdoor, you’ve recently seen posts about a rash of package thefts, interspersed with complaints about the slowness, even the lack of, police response. Now, shedding light on that issue, Gene Balk at the Seattle Sunday Times has done some citywide research that shows Fremont, especially west of Aurora, is not wrong to feel response times are slow.

Here’s the article in full and here are some excerpts [emphasis added]:

According to SPD public-information officer Sean Whitcomb, “All of our 911 response is by design intended to be equity based, which means regardless of where you live in the city or time of day … everyone is waiting around the same amount of time.”

But for whatever reasons, that is not what’s happening on the ground.

Some parts of Seattle get consistently fast service. In the Pike/Pine section of Capitol Hill, and the adjoining area near Seattle University, the response time to priority-one calls averaged well under five minutes. That’s the fastest in the city.

At the other end of the spectrum is the North Beach/Blue Ridge section of Northwest Seattle, at just shy of 14 minutes, nearly three times longer. …

In fact, in 14 of Seattle’s 51 police beats, it took officers more than seven minutes to arrive on the scene for most priority-one calls. These beats cover most of Northwest Seattle, Georgetown, Magnolia and parts of Queen Anne and West Seattle. (The boundaries of Seattle’s 51 police beats were redrawn in early 2015.)

Which was news to Whitcomb. “I’m more than a little surprised at that variance,” he told me.

In a later interview, SPD chief operating officer Brian Maxey explained, “North is known for a lot of geographic chokepoints, with the I-5 corridor cutting it east-west. Some of those bottlenecks, like going down 45th into Ballard, can slow down response times depending on traffic and what the geography is.”

To be fair, most of the time, the department meets its goal for priority-one 911 calls. Citywide, for three out of five calls, officers are at the scene within seven minutes. But that might be small consolation if your call is among the more than 7,800 — 4 percent of all calls — that took longer than half an hour. …

The article includes an interactive map showing differences in response time, city-wide, for a variety of kinds of calls; according to that map, Fremont actually has average response times for residential burglaries.

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