Density has put more eyes on the street around the Columbia City Light Rail Station. The Columbia City light rail station has put more criminals on the street. Before light rail, the violent crime in SE was almost all gang on gang. Now we have civilians being attacked, sometimes in broad daylight, because these civilians are wearing jewelry or walking with an iPhone. And the advice from SPD? Don’t walk alone to or from light rail.
There is no security provided along the Edmunds street corridor, so neighbors turn vigilante to help each other, sometimes being able to detain these young criminals until police arrive. We had another event just yesterday, not at light rail, but in broad daylight near the Rainier Ave Safeway. An elderly woman was knocked down, her walker taken from her, and her bags were stolen. A vigilante intervened and was able to detain one of the young attackers until police arrived. There are more eyes on the street at Safeway too, with the apartments at SEED’s Courtland Place and SHAG’s Dakota at Rainier Court. It’s too bad that these additional eyes are not doing anything to deter crime.
My neighbors in the pro growth, density at any cost camp continue to state that if there are more eyes on the street in a 12 story building at Rainier and McClellan, there will be less crime. Their vision for a crime free, transit oriented urban town center is grand but grandly unrealistic. Columbia City has already exceeded its growth targets for 2024, and this density has not eliminated crime.
We hear from SPD that DOJ has taken patrol officers off of the street and into the station where every officer on an arrest must fill out use of force statements if force was used during an arrest. These are very important statements, and they should be prepared by each and every officer on an arrest when force is used. But can’t they be dictated and electronically signed? Complying with DOJ should not be an excuse to take our patrol officers off of our streets. We need them now more than ever, actively patrolling our four light rail stations, so the light rail crime spree can be stopped.