Friday, October 10, 2008

Increasing Crime at Roosevelt

I had heard about these incidents at and around Roosevelt and now they made the news in today's PI.

There has been an uptick in crime around Roosevelt, mostly robbery with assault. Only one incident that I know of happened near the school on the sidewalk outside the school grounds.

(Interestingly, my co-president witnessed it - she knew the student since he was in kindergarten - and rushed to try to help. I myself stepped in to break up an assault at our get-ready day at Roosevelt between two girls at the start of school. Those of you who know me know I'm pint-sized and yet I was surprised at the number of adults who praised me and yet said they wouldn't have stepped between the two girls. I get that I could get hurt but who is going to intervene if adults don't? That said, I would likely only call 911 or shout at attackers on the street because of the possibility of a weapon being involved.)

I give our principal, Brian Vance, props for sending home information (as well as via e-mail to those who had provided an address) telling parents these incidents had happened, what was being done to try to protect students and what students need to do to protect themselves (i.e. be vigilant and try to avoid any groups of kids they don't know).

This is not unheard of activity around high schools. But this crime wave around Roosevelt has the suspicious ring of gang activity. We're hoping not.

What doesn't help is that we have a couple of slumlords around the Roosevelt area (indeed, the entire block across from Roosevelt is boarded up houses). They own close to 60 properties that are in various states of decay. The area does look rundown and may have led these thugs to believe that it is a neighborhood that doesn't care. Which is not true but it is near impossible to get these slumlords to change their ways. In the incident near the school, many people sprang into action to help the student, coming from the school, the QFC near the school and from houses. I hope that this shows these thugs that good people will not ignore crime and will rise up against them.


taylor said...

While in line at Tully's, I overheard a parent mention that the activity happened last week (Thursday) and it took the school almost a week (Wednesday) to notify parents. Shouldn't this information have immediately come from the Superintendent's office?

In two out of three events, they happened at the metro bus stops a block or two away from the school. This raises school safety questions surrounding transportation. Whose responsibility is it to provide student safety and what means does the school district use to ensure student safety riding metro buses?

The efforts to reduce transportation costs by using metro bus services does not release a school district of their fiduciary responsibilities in getting students safely to and from school. I'm pretty sure student safety comes first?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well Taylor that begs the question that we might discuss: when does a school have to tell parents about safety issues? About a suspended teacher (this happened earlier in the week at an elementary school but I decided not to blog about it)?

This issue of safety around high school kids and Metro did come up when the district and the Board began discussing this changeover. I will say I know there are incidents with yellow buses as well. But I only heard during those discussions that Metro didn't feel it was their duty and that Metro worried about rowdy students harassing their adult passengers.

But I will say again, that the look of the neighborhood around Roosevelt does not help. We are having a neighborhood meeting at the end of the month and I am definitely bringing this issue up.

SolvayGirl said...

Transportation safety is a huge issue for those of us living in the Southend. The busstops on Rainier are often rough places and frequently see a variety of crimes. Of course, now Metro is considering eliminating a number of the Express routes on Rainier to force people onto Light Rail (with shuttles going to the Light Rail Stations). I have no idea how this will impact the lengths of students' commutes, but it will certainly make my husband's trip downtown take longer.

Add that to the fact that the District counts students who arrive late via Metro as tardy and I see this as a move to force people into neighborhood schools. That might be fine for those in the Northend, but right now, Rainier Beach is still an unacceptable option (due primarily to safety issues and the focus on remedial work rather than rigor).

Since research shows that crime increases during bad economic times, these recent events at Roosevelt are just the tip of the iceberg--especially since many HS students are carrying an iPod and/or cell phone.

None of this makes me thrilled about trusting my soon to be HS freshman to SPS.

TechyMom said...

I lived in one of those slum houses when I went to UW 15+ years ago. The guys who own them (and R&R hardware) are NUTS. They had been trying to buy up a block and build condos for a long time even then, and had not succeded. They evicted us, saying it was happening soon. I noticed things were boarded up a few years ago, and figured maybe they were finally making progress.

I'm guessing with the current state of housing and credit, that nothing will be done with these properties for a very long time. If they couldn't pull it off in the boom, no chance they'll pull it off now.

Is there anything the city can do? Condemn and seize the properties? Fix them up as low income housing? Require that they be bulldozed? Anything?

snaffles said...


If wishes could only come true. I don't believe the City can do anything with private land. And slumlords usually have great attorney's to make sure the City keeps its distance.

We were having some rough times for awhile out here at Ingraham 8 or so years ago. A couple of Street fights, some run ins with neighbors, and some other stuff.

We lucked out with a really good Vice Principal who the kids respected, and who really took those extra steps, (including off campus a couple of times).

The police also set up a watch at the corners of the school. Mornings, breaks, lunch and at the end of school always had a police car cruising the area.

Even now the first month of school seems to set the tone for the year. The more police presence, and the more the neighbors step up with the "watchful eyes" in the first weeks seems to make the problems less or leave for the rest of the year.

I don't know if you can get some extra police protection, and time or even if you would want it, but it might be worth the effort.

Keep up the work of being the "watchful eyes" that also helps alot.

Kids learn where the safe spots are and visit them.