“Welcome to 2011!” With that, West Seattle Crime Prevention Council president Dot Beard opened last night’s meeting at the Southwest Precinct, the first WSCPC meeting in two months – and her last one as president. As the meeting began, more than 15 people were on hand, not counting three uniformed SPD reps – Lt. Pierre Davis and Community Police Team Officers Jonathan Kiehn and Ken Mazzuca – plus soon-to-retire Crime Prevention Coordinator Benjamin Kinlow. Precinct commander Capt. Steve Paulsen joined in time to deliver his assessment of the latest West Seattle crime trends – which included at least one surprise. That and other meeting toplines, after the jump:
CRIME TRENDS: Capt. Steve Paulsen made a guest appearance to discuss what’s been up (and down) lately. “We were trying to prepare everybody for a modest increase in crime” during the holiday season, he noted – but, somewhat to their surprise, “It didn’t happen.” He said residential burglaries for 2010 were down 20 percent from 2009 and that the rate’s remained low lately. “Part of that is because people are calling 911 to report suspicious activity,” Capt. Paulsen noted, and he lauded Block Watches (leaders of the West Seattle Blockwatch Captains Network were on hand to hear that – their next meeting is next Tuesday). “Get back to knowing your neighbors – that’s going to be the key to our success out here in West Seattle,” he said. “Crime in the last week – super-low numbers on everything,” he said, citing a handful of burglaries, but reiterating that it’s important to report any crime that happens. He did mention a specific suspect who seems to be a one-man crime wave – responsible for the catalytic-converter thefts we’ve been hearing about, or so police believe. “We know who he is and we’re out looking for him,” Capt. Paulsen said. Overall, he said again that we have “unbelievably low crime numbers” – with one exception, car prowls, which are hard to stem without witnesses. “We’re stopping them and ID’ing them, but we can’t book them into jail” without witnesses, he noted.
FEATURED SPEAKERS FROM SWYFS: Robert Gant from Southwest Youth and Family Services works on the city’s Youth Violence Prevention Initiative. Gant (photo right) and co-workers Debra Williams and Nani Fatuesi (to his left) explained the services they provide – SWYFS is based in West Seattle, in North Delridge next to Delridge Community Center. As announced when then-Mayor Nickels launched the initiative about a year and a half ago, SWYFS leads its efforts in this area of the city. Right now, Gant said, about 531 youth 12-17 are being served by its various programs – which start with referrals (which can be self- or family referrals as well as school, justice system, etc.) – and include a wide range of services, from counseling to a program called Southwest Expressions, which Williams said was inspired by youth who wanted a “safe place to go after school … who wanted to earn money, wanted to learn skills” but needed help.
CRIME PREVENTION COORDINATOR’S FAREWELL: Ben Kinlow, who’s retiring March 15th, shared a few words with the group (and will speak more extensively at next week’s meeting of the Blockwatch Captains Network, whom he lauded in his WSCPC appearance). If you’re interested in setting up a Block Watch, now’s the time to do it with his expertise available – who will handle crime-prevention services at the precinct after he’s gone has not yet been clarified.
NEW OFFICERS: President Dot Beard and vice president Betty Wiberg decided not to run again; the new officers are president Richard Miller and vice president Larry Ruda. They’re looking for a secretary-treasurer, if you’re interested in helping – contact info at wscpc.org.
The West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meets on the second Tuesday of each month, 7 pm, Southwest Precinct meeting room. That’s also where the West Seattle Blockwatch Captains Network will meet at 6:30 pm next Tuesday (January 25).
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