One afternoon last August, Jeanne Tiscareno returned to her Capitol Hill home to find the front door open and the house ransacked. She called 911 and waited on a nearby sidewalk for Seattle police to arrive.
One hour passed, then two, with no sign of an officer. When Tiscareno phoned again, a dispatcher told her the call wasn’t a priority. After three-and-a-half hours, a detective working overtime finally showed up.
“He was great,” said Tiscareno, 58, a marketing consultant. “I just wish they had showed up sooner … It really hurt my faith in this city’s public safety capabilities. It makes me feel Seattle doesn’t have its act together.”
There were more stories like Tiscareno’s last summer, with hard data to back them up. Response times spiked amid the pandemic and the summer’s demonstrations for racial justice, reaching a 41-minute monthly average for all calls and an 11-minute monthly average for the highest-priority calls in June. That was four minutes longer than the department’s 7-minute goal for such calls.
Less clear is how the increase in summer 2020 response times should be interpreted, as police officials battle their critics over funding. The City Council’s public safety committee is scheduled to consider a $5.4 million cut Tuesday.
Law enforcement officials say last summer’s spike should serve as a warning to those who want to quickly defund the police and reinvest in community solutions. They say the department…