Responding to safety: Courthouse Vicinity Improvement effort  

Over the summer, several incidents of assault were reported in downtown Seattle around the King County Courthouse building, including assaults on residents reporting for jury duty.

As a result King County, the City of Seattle, Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) at The Morrison and the Metropolitan Improvement District (MID) began working together on a new initiative – the Courthouse Vicinity Improvement effort – to improve the safety and cleanliness around the Courthouse for employees, visitors and residents of the area.

Along with need for increased security, cleaning up the sidewalk areas outside of the Metro Transit tunnel exits, City Hall Park and Prefontaine Fountain all needed attention.

Meg Goldman, a Project Manager with the Department of Executive Services, is organizing  King County’s collaborative effort to implement improvements to the safety and cleanliness of the area.

“I help everyone understand and prioritize the issues, formulate a response and help with internal communications,” Meg said. “It has been a successful collaboration with key stakeholders coming together to define the problem and set out concrete short-term solutions.”

The goals of the group are to stay informed on crime and incident statistics, ensure ongoing information sharing and communication among stakeholders, and develop collaborative County-City-community solutions.

The Courthouse Vicinity Improvement effort is focused on serving a four-block radius that encompasses Third Avenue around the Courthouse, City Hall Park, Prefontaine Fountain and the Pioneer Square transit stations.

The collaboration has led to better security, higher frequency of garbage collection, street cleaning and signage for jurors and residents looking for the Courthouse.

“Effective partnership is vital, due to the fact that the park and sidewalk area is under city jurisdiction, while the courthouse is a County building; the County can’t address these conditions alone,” Superior Court Presiding Judge Laura Inveen said. “The outside perimeter is now cleaner, waste is being removed regularly, and the tents and furniture have been removed from the City Hall Park.”

“There is also a presence of County security officers outside the entrance of the  courthouse, which seems to make employees and jurors and others who use the courthouse more at ease,” Judge Inveen said.

As the partnership continues, so too will renewed efforts and new initiatives, including some longer term improvements to City Hall Park. King County remains steadfast on finding long-term solutions to address security, safety and cleanliness.

For now, the short-term solutions are working. “Success looks like a safe, clean, welcoming neighborhood where jurors feel comfortable and secure participating in their roles as jurors and citizens,” Meg said.

Employees are encouraged to report incidents that don’t rise to the need for a call for police assistance using the security incident report form.