From last night’s West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network meeting at the Southwest Precinct:
NEW CRIME-PREVENTION COORDINATOR: Jennifer Burbridge was introduced at last month’s WSBWCN meeting as the precinct’s new Crime Prevention Coordinator, and last night, she got to elaborate on her new role and what’s in store.
Burbridge told the dozen-plus attendees that she believes in community/police partnerships and believes she can make a difference in her new role – the city budget for this year had funding for each precinct to have its own CPC, while previously two of them were shared by two precincts each, including Mark Solomon, who had served the SW and South Precincts. Before the new job, Burbridge had spent two years as the Seattle University crime-analysis research intern for the precinct.
Here’s what she says her role is going to be like: Very similar to Solomon – working with SWP community members and police officers to prevent crime and organize events. “I will regularly attend community meetings like this one, the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council, and the Southwest Precinct Advisory Council.” She’ll also provide safety assessments and Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design assessments. She can do those for businesses as well as homes.
Her areas of focus: The Southwest Precinct area (West Seattle and South Park). “My primary responsibility is what my community is concerned about. So the issues I’m focused on are the issues you’re focused on.” She is “a resource” – some of the comments and questions she got after taking the job had to do with things she personally can’t do anything about, but she should be able to help you figure out who can. Also, now that this is a fulltime position for the Southwest Precinct, “the scope can expand.”
How she plans to interact with the community: E-mail is big for her, and she will get back to you “in a quick manner.” Her e-mail address: email@example.com – she also plans to write a monthly newsletter starting in May, and it will be distributed widely (including here on WSB). “The newsletters are going to be about topical issues – in the summertime, personal safety, for example.
She asked if anyone in attendance had questions or suggestions for her. No one did, but one man suggested that getting police back to enforcing laws would be invaluable, and that should be communicated to elected officials.
SW Precinct Lt. Steve Strand said that a recent commercial burglary involved a business with a garage door that would “stay open for an extended period of time” and leave the business open to theft. Perhaps the business could install cameras, he thought, but there’s some “resistance” to that, so he thought that recommendations could be made regarding deterrence of property crimes.
In response to another person’s neighborhood-crime concerns, she said “there’s always (at least) one thing you can do,” and that’s something she hopes to focus on with community members.
Another attendee suggested an update on homelessness-related issues in the area.
And yet another wondered about a crime-prevention FAQ, addressing issues such as alarms. (That was part of a WSBWCN presentation in 2013 about home security.)
P.S. You can meet and talk with Burbridge at the rescheduled Coffee With a Cop event one week from today – next Wednesday, May 3rd – 1 to 2:30 pm at Junction Starbucks (California/Alaska).
CRIME UPDATES: Next, SW Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis briefed the group as usual, first saying the precinct is really excited about having a full-time crime-prevention coordinator, and has been stoked about working with Burbridge. And he stressed the value of “constant feedback” from the community, especially a 911 call if something is happening right now. The more calls they get about something suspicious – the more that underscores its importance.
Property crimes remain the Southwest Precinct’s area of emphasis, and a lot of it, Capt. Davis said, is linked to the “opioid crisis.” That runs all the way up to auto thefts; some are stolen and taken just a short distance, for another crime or even for someplace to sleep. “We have a lot of directed patrolling going on – they’re just there, tackling that one problem,” and that goes for car prowls and auto thefts, which were up 18 percent last year over the year before.
He reiterated that police have been talking with other branches of the criminal-justice system about “arresting some of the same people over and over again.” He also mentioned that the officers get bulletins via the Real-Time Crime Center – “up-to-date information” with statistics and what’s happening right now in your neighborhoods. He mentioned the recent spate of “shots fired” calls – “these aren’t just people running up and down the street shooting willy-nilly, there’s a reason for this … we’re putting that together … once you put together enough information, you can go after specific individuals. … Unfortunately, sometimes these guys are doing their thing when we’re still trying to put that information together.” He mentioned a gang resurgence in some areas of the city.
One attendee was from outside the city, in neighboring Top Hat in unincorporated North Highline. Talking about crime problems crossing the city-county line, Capt. Davis mentioned that sometimes criminals hop onto Metro buses, and so they’ve taken to getting the buses stopped to find the suspects.
COMMUNITY CONCERNS: A Block Watch Captain from East Admiral mentioned that they’re having trouble with car prowls – in some cases, people just looking for cars to sleep in, as mentioned above – and noisy motorcycle riders coming down the Admiral Way hill toward the bridge. … A couple from the 44th/Andover area, relatively new arrivals to West Seattle, came to check out the group, and are trying to find out if there’s an existing Block Watch in their area. … Those same attendees brought up Hamilton Viewpoint Park in North Admiral, which “has changed” in the past year since they arrived: “It seems to be a hangout place, and we don’t feel comfortable” going there or bringing guests there. Said Capt. Davis: “That type of activity ebbs and flows.” He segued from there into a mention of Alki Beach cruisers who come here from areas such as Kent and Renton, which have “put up no-cruising signs” … here, they’re trying to hand out tickets and get cars towed “because (they) were doing something stupid.” He said they have increased “directed patrol” staffing in the area “quite a bit” to deal with it. “We’re going to try our best … to do what we can do in enforcement,” he promised.
There was a question about the effectiveness of bicycle patroling vs. car patroling. The former can make more direct contacts in places such as Roxhill Park, the captain said.
Lt. Strand said he works directly with the bike squad. “Some of the areas where we’re really able to make a difference is in Westwood Village where there’s so much car traffic and foot traffic” that the bicycles give them extra mobility, as is the case in areas such as Alki Beach and Lincoln Park as well as business districts and transit centers. They can even somewhat sneak right up on people in the act of committing crimes. He said they’re responsive to community concerns separate from politics.
Capt. Davis reminded everyone that Saturday, April 29th, is Drug Takeback Day – drop your no-longer-needed/expired/etc. medications off at the precinct, 10 am-2 pm.
NEXT MONTH: Community Police Team Officer Todd Wiebke is scheduled to talk with WSBWCN attendees about having a plan for what you would do if confronted with an intruder in your home. The meeting will be at 6:30 pm Tuesday, May 23rd, at the precinct (2300 SW Webster).