Low-key meeting for the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council tonight, and its last one till September (bylaws passed last year enable them to skip July and August) – but there was the usual crime-trend briefing, plus informational, albeit casual, presentations about the Seattle Police Foundation and the SPD Explorers program, as well as news of a new graffiti-paint-out program this summer – read on for summaries:
CRIME TRENDS: From Southwest Precinct Community Police Team Officer Jon Kiehn, the only uniformed SPD rep at the meeting: Burglaries same as last month, car prowls down a bit, auto thefts up a bit, ramping up for Alki issues – the call load the past couple days has been an indication of how it’s going to be. He was asked about the loitering men on the east side of The Junction (reported here); he said so far there’s been no reports of any crime, just reports of inappropriate remarks, and people feeling uncomfortable – it’ s on their radar, though.
NICKELSVILLE: Asked about the camp by a meeting attendee, Officer Kiehn said he had had a meeting just yesterday with business reps from that area of West Seattle, as well as camp management. He notes there’s a list of rules they’ve agreed upon – the residents are not allowed based on camp rules to do certain things, and breaking the law is one of them, “still kind of hashing things out,” but they’re working well together, so far.
SUMMER WEATHER CRIME PREVENTION REMINDER: Crime Prevention Coordinator Mark Solomon reminded everyone – don’t leave your windows, doors, garages open in the warm weather, because it’s a home security risk, and “somebody can take advantage” of it. Officer Kiehn reiterated that unlocked doors and windows are figuring into an increasing number of break-ins right now, and unlocked vehicles are a big risk if you choose to leave something of value inside an unlocked car.
‘SUMMER PAINT-OUT PROGRAM‘: Officer Kiehn says you can ask Seattle Public Utilities for paint to go cover up graffiti/tagging vandalism. (More information here.) “In West Seattle, it’s not a huge problem,” he said – “but where (in WS) it IS a problem, it’s a BIG problem.”
SEATTLE POLICE FOUNDATION: Its president Renée Hopkins, a West Seattleite, came to talk about what SPF does. She’s been with it since before it launched. It’s known for sponsoring Picnic at the Precinct (WSB 2010 coverage) and the annual police awards banquet (WSB 2010 coverage), but it’s raised $4 million for hundreds of projects overall – the Victim Support Team (a community volunteer program helping domestic-violence victims at crime scenes) among them. “Most of them are youth and outreach focused,” she said, as well as employee recognition and a tuition fund for education/training for SPD employees, as well as “law-enforcement assistance” – equipment and technology that the city itself can’t afford.
In the past 10 years, SPF has “funded all the new K-9 purchases,” Hopkins said. Previously, she said, they were donated dogs that required months of training and still might not work out; dogs bred and trained for police work cost about $9,000. They have also purchased new horses for the West Seattle-based Mounted Patrol Unit, which SPF stepped forward to help save from the city budget ax (as reported here earlier this year). This year’s dates: August 20th for Picnic at the Precinct, 1-4 pm, and October 28th for the citywide awards banquet (at which the public is welcome, Hopkins said).
She also mentioned the book that a “community volunteer” had written, in honor of the late SPD Officer Timothy Brenton, telling the stories of more than 30 officers, with words and pictures, “Keeping a Blue Light On,” and says it’s gone into a reprint and will be available at a lower price, for about $30. Author Stacey Sanner will be talking to schools and community groups about “the great work our department does every day” starting this fall, according to Hopkins.
ACTING SGT. ADRIAN DIAZ DISCUSSES SPD EXPLORERS: He’s a former West Seattleite who oversees Youth Violence Prevention for SPD, including the officers placed at four schools in the district (Denny International Middle School among them). His main topic: Police Explorers, a program he took over last fall. The program is for up to 30 youth ages 14 to 21 (at the upper age range, they are potentially eligible to move on to a career as a police officer). Participants meet two times a month and go through “a variety of levels of training … a smaller condensed version of what officers go through, from field interviews to constitutional law, traffic stops …” and more, according to A/Sgt. Diaz. They also train with firearms. They also are asked to participate in one community event per month; their roles include community interaction – last weekend they handled “pit security” at an event, for example. “We just kind of integrate them into a lot of different things,” tasks such as fingerprinting. They also attend an annual academy, and go through a formal “rank” system. There’s still room in the system – they haven’t reached the 30-person capacity, he says – they have 21 people in the post right now, close to equally split between young women and young men. A youth may stay in the program for four or five years “and if they leave, they leave for a job or college” – one is at West Point, right now, in fact, and Diaz says he’s just written a recommendation for an Explorer who’s trying to get into the Air Force Academy. (He also mentioned his past West Seattle ties included years as a wrestling coach for Chief Sealth International High School; high schools are one of the places they recruit new Explorers.) The program is supported by donations, which all go through the Seattle Police Foundation. A/Sgt. Diaz was asked about Community Police Academies – a separate program – he is a teacher at those; there are two coming up – the standard 10-week program and a one-day crash course; more info here.
NO WSCPC MEETINGS IN JULY OR AUGUST: Next meeting, September 20th, the topic – identity theft.
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