Local church holds forum on downtown crime

SEATTLE -- It seems to be a problem that just won't go away: crime and the fear of becoming a victim on the streets of downtown Seattle.

"On 3rd Avenue right now I'm scared to wait for a bus down there with the language and the people I see,” Seattle resident Bill Laythe said.

Local church officials and city council members gathered Sunday to talk about the problem of crime in downtown, and how it could be fixed. City councilwomen Sally Bagshaw, city attorney Pete Holmes and members of the Seattle Police Department came together to do more than talk about the problem. They also talked solutions.

"There was the professor that was stabbed, there's the bus driver who was shot," First United Methodist Church Pastor Sandy Brown said. "There was a shooting at the Union Gospel Mission last week and all of those concerned us but what also concerns us is the day to day feeling that downtown is not as safe today as it was before.”

Human services to help the homeless and the mentally ill get their lives back together and hopefully make the streets of downtown as safe as they can be were topics at the forum. The forum was a way of getting community leaders together to talk of a problem that all face.

"City Attorney and the police department and City Council and the Mayor all have different ideas about what to do about this and we felt that bringing them all together would be something that would allow communication to happen so that positive solutions can be found,” Brown said.

"We can't arrest our way out of our problems. There's got to be a real coming together between our police and our human services,” Bagshaw said.

"Living in a modern day urban center and dealing with all the issues that arise from homelessness and mental health issues and violent crime, how we balance that public safety and public health question is central to our very future frankly,” Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said.