Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole spent about an hour with students at Denny International Middle School recently . It ended with a group photo, following a bouquet presentation and an exchange of warm words of thanks, but the message the chief heard before all that was clear and unmistakable: Students want more help staying safe.
One of the “Youth Ambassador” spoke to the chief; others showed her a student-produced video showing some of the area concerns, including Roxhill Park, and recapping some of the incidents targeting students.
O’Toole promised to step up patrols, but also spoke of prevention and intervention; she advised the students to stay watchful, telling the story of what she learned, working as a decoy officer, right after mentioning she’d been discussing the area with former Southwest Precinct commander, now Assistant Chief, Steve Wilske.
The Youth Ambassadors told the chief they’re seeking a $2,500 “Small Sparks” grant from the city Department of Neighborhoods for their safety project – that’s related to the Block Watch-style effort the Denny PTA told us about earlier in the year. Their class, as explained by the event announcement from Seattle Public Schools, is facilitated by Lori Markowitz and Denny staffer Matthew Riippa, and “emphasizes peer mentorship, leadership and compassion.” They explored “issues of student safety” as part of their “acts-of-compassion projects”; part of that involved surveying about 150 eighth graders.
One student suggested to Chief O’Toole that schools should be included in the new SPD Safe Place anti-hate crime campaign; the chief mused aloud that Denny might be a good site to try a pilot version of that.
Source: West Seattle Blog. Photographs by: Habib Behjatnia.