From tonight’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting at Southwest Precinct:
“We’re really concerned with our burglaries, car prowls, and auto thefts, said Operations Lt. Pierre Davis. But for the past month, he cited a “significant drop” in those categories. “We are at pretty much an 8-month-to-a-year low, compared to a year ago.” Regarding our “more active individuals in the community – we’ve gotten them recognized,” and arrested and prosecuted, “and they’re out of our hair for a long, long time. … We hope to keep that trend up.” He quoted precinct commander Capt. Steve Paulsen as saying “We’re doing really good now, but we want to get that down to zero … if you see something out there, let us know.” And toward that, Lt. Davis revealed, an informational campaign is ahead to alert the community to ways to help reduce the chance of auto theft and other car-related crimes. WSCPC president Richard Miller asked Lt. Davis about any current hot spots for auto theft, and the lieutenant replied that “It’s pretty random right now.”
Other toplines from the meeting, including a presentation on a volunteer-staffed program that helps some of the community’s most-vulnerable victims, after the jump:
SEATTLE POLICE DEPARTMENT’S VICTIM SUPPORT TEAM: The 15+ Crime Prevention Council attendees were briefed by Pete Rogerson, a volunteer from this Seattle Police Department program staffed by trained volunteers who help domestic-violence victims – sometimes meeting them at police precincts, sometimes at hospitals, “wherever we can meet them – sometimes talking to them by phone, if that’s the best we can do. Officers tell victims about the team’s services, and if they say they are interested, “we do the best we can to help them … we give them a choice of what kind of help they want, if they want any help at all. Sometimes they just want someone to listen to them, to hear their story.” Or, for example, they may need help in navigating the shelter system, to find someplace to go that has room to take the victim in.
He says the program isn’t recruiting right now – it has about 90 volunteers and that’s so many that they don’t even need to have a spring training academy (though, he added, they certainly wouldn’t say no to someone who wanted to be on a prospective-volunteer waiting list). The program also has two paid staffers and two AmeriCorps volunteers, he explained, but the volunteers are on duty late into the night on Fridays and Saturday nights.
Rogerson has been a volunteer with the Victim Support Team since 2002 – far longer than the average two or three years most volunteers stay. Their time commitment, he explained in response to a question from Delridge District Council chair Mat McBride, is “at least one eight-hour shift a month,” though many, he said do more. The training program lasts about 50 hours – at least six Saturdays, typically, with police ridealongs included. New volunteers’ first shifts are done in the company of a volunteer trainer, like Rogerson.
As a longtime volunteer, he has context on the program’s history. Rogerson noted that this was a “pretty controversial program when it started” – particularly the concept of civilians driving around with police radios, using them to communicate. He says it began with a pilot program back around 1997. And he acknowledges that some victims don’t want to leave their abusers – but he recalled the tale of one who not only left, she traveled thousands of miles: She had come from overseas to visit her husband who was “working here for a year”; he abused her, she had a zero-tolerance policy, so “we helped her leave” – Rogerson recalled that involved her buying a one-way airplane ticket to go back home.
What don’t they do? According to a handout shared at the meeting, the volunteers “do not take statements for officers … do not serve as interpreters for officers …. do not stay at unsafe scenes.” And there was a time, not that long ago, when, as Rogerson recalled, there were a lot of restrictions, because anything could have been an unsafe scene, particularly right after the murder of Seattle Police Officer Tim Brenton in fall 2009. The work is “not suited for everybody,” Rogerson acknowledged in response to another question, but he keeps doing it because “I find it rewarding.”
WSCPC member Betty Wiberg asked the Southwest Precinct reps on hand for their thoughts about the VST. Operations Lt. Davis’s answer was short and sweet: “Job well done.” And the attendees echoed that with a round of applause before Rogerson headed out, bound for an appearance before the Broadview Community Council.
NEW PRECINCT LIAISON FROM CITY ATTORNEY’S OFFICE: Another guest at the WSCPC meeting was Henry Chae, who is working with the Southwest, South, and North Precincts on behalf of City Attorney Pete Holmes‘ office.
WEST SEATTLE BLOCKWATCH CAPTAINS NETWORK: Karen Berge announced that its next meeting is a week from tonight, at the same precinct meeting room where the WSCPC always meets, 6:30 pm Tuesday (March 22nd – keep track of the group on Facebook).
OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS: Not crime-related, but Chief Sealth International High School assistant principal Lupe Barnes wanted to make sure everyone knew about several events at the school – including World Water Week next week (previewed again here this morning), the March 26th Jazz Dinner, April 1st baseball-program spaghetti dinner, and April 2nd tamale dinner.
APRIL 19 WSCPC MEETING: Jim Curtin from SDOT will be the guest, according to
president Miller, talking about neighborhood traffic safety, including West Seattle’s most dangerous spots and what’s being done about them. As always, that’ll be a 7 pm Tuesday meeting, at the precinct meeting room (Delridge/Webster, enter on the west side of the building).