West Seattle Blog... » West Seattle Crime Prevention Council http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Thu, 28 May 2015 08:07:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 @ West Seattle Crime Prevention Council: Crime trends; ex-gang members; how you can help http://westseattleblog.com/2015/05/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-crime-trends-ex-gang-members-how-you-can-help/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/05/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-crime-trends-ex-gang-members-how-you-can-help/#comments Sun, 24 May 2015 21:09:17 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=310959 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

From this month’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting:

CRIME/SAFETY TRENDS: Capt. Pierre Davis of the Southwest Precinct said key categories of crime are seeing “steep drops” lately because of “some specific arrests.” He referred to the recent “robbery spike” (two last weekend on Alki; here’s our latest report), mentioning that it’s happening in the early-morning hours, saying they’re checking on specific “individuals … who have a propensity toward that type of thing.”

About Alki overall, Capt. Davis said a “comprehensive emphasis” is planned for summer, including bicycle officers. “If our plan is not working and you’re seeing something out of the ordinary … let us know … we can revamp our plans and take a closer look at your neighborhood.” One attendee asked for an update on what was the Bamboo Grill and is now Alki Huddle; Community Police Team Officer Jon Flores said the name is different, the ownership the same, butname but that they haven’t had serious problems for quite some time.

One attendee from North Admiral said that locking the Hamilton Viewpoint Park gate at night has helped cut down on nighttime trouble but there’s still some in the daytime.

Capt. Davis referred people to the SPD website to check specific crime-stat numbers and also encouraged people to keep vigilant and keep reporting what happens. And he said he’s hoping Assistant Chief Steve Wilske - his predecessor as SW Precinct commander – “will bless us with more resources.”

After his briefing, it was on to the featured guests at the meeting (held this past Tuesday night in the community room at the precinct):

FORMER GANG MEMBERS: WSCPC president Richard Miller brought four people, all self-identified as former gang members, to speak to and with the group. They were from a program affiliated with the Top Hat branch of Victory Outreach, a church with locations in more than 20 states, founded almost half a century ago.

One man said he’d spent 16 years in prison; he got involved in drugs, and that helped lead him onto the wrong road. He said Victory Outreach helped him find a better way, and he graduated from its program and became a minister. They go through White Center “reaching out to men to pull them off the streets,” he said, and are currently working with two dozen people.

He said the criminal-justice system helped him learn discipline. He also said “There’s a lot of gang activity” in the area of their church, and though they try their best to combat it, “there’s not enough of us” – they need help, and “more programs to help youth.” He and his wife “look after” 20 men who he says are on a “new path.” They do community service work while getting back into society, he said. “There is hope for those guys” who come out of gangs and drugs – “don’t give up on them,” he exhorted. He said their program has a 70 percent success rate.

How did he wind up in gangs in the first place? He said his siblings were gang members, his parents were heroin addicts, and “I thought that was life” – though that “life” had included being shot five times, he noted later, and many of his “old friends” are already dead.

Another man had a similar backstory, saying he had been “born into gangs … because my home was messed up, I decided to go get some training somewhere … six months ago, I was (at the) Salvation Army to satisfy the courts … I remembered where Victory Outreach was in Ballard, and walked from Rainier to Ballard, found out the house wasn’t there, then walked from Ballard to West Seattle, and they said ‘Come on in’. … If I’d had this chance when I was younger … there’s a lot that needs to be fixed within us.” In addition to spiritual assistance, he said he had addressed the source of anger within him. He said he’d been at VO for six months

The third speaker said he too had grown up in a dysfunctional family. “Next thing you know you’re doing things a real family wouldn’t do.” He said he was strung out on drugs and then “one day I was tired of being a loser … found myself on the phone with a guy who graduated (from the VO) program … and within 15 minutes talked me into going into the program.” He said it was “awkward at first” to have people caring about him so much, but then he found himself giving back.

And the fourth speaker said he too had grown up in a dysfunctional family with a rough upbringing and found himself looking “for love and fellowship on the streets,” and wound up involved in gangs, having “to fight other kids just to walk down my own block.” He said he too had been involved in drugs and through the church he’s now “saved” and making changes in his life.

How do they get the word out about the program? Word-of-mouth, said the minister, as well as doing odd jobs in the neighborhood like yard work – that, he said, is where some of their funding comes from, as well as car washes and house painting. And they also try to be a positive force in the neighborhood, including dealing with nearby trouble. They also talk to parole/probation officers to look for potential program members.

The program supervised by the minister is a first step, it was explained; in the second step, members have to get jobs, and VO works with local businesses to facilitate that – from metal-fabrication shops to sports organizations.

Did you have trouble with the gangs letting you leave? a meeting attendee asked.

You just disappear, said one man. The minister said he has a brother who’s still involved, and he counsels him as best he can. He added that they try to move participants around so that they’re not tempted or approached by people they knew.

Why do gang members tag? was another question. Reply: To announce their presence at a particular location, and/or give someone a warning.

Who’s not eligible for the program? Reply: Exclusions include anyone with a sex-crime or arson background.

If you’re interested in anything from referring someone to VO to donating – they said items are welcome from toiletries to clothing – you can reach the Top Hat location at 206-781-1655.

WSCPC NEEDS YOU: If you are interested in helping this group continue – it’s been limping along with little volunteer help, not even someone to update its bare-bones website – please contact Richard Miller, who’s been keeping it going despite serious health challenges. Come to the next meeting (June 16th, last one before summer break) and/or contact him via e-mail – westseattlecpc@gmail.com.

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@ West Seattle Crime Prevention Council: Car theft ‘skyrocketing,’ burglary dropping; plus, City Attorney discusses ‘dream job’ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-car-theft-skyrocketing-burglary-dropping-plus-city-attorney-discusses-dream-job/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-car-theft-skyrocketing-burglary-dropping-plus-city-attorney-discusses-dream-job/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 02:06:23 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=307886

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Auto theft has “skyrocketed” in the Southwest Precinct area lately, police acknowledged toward the start of last night’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting.

Operations Lt. Ron Smith presented the crime-trends update, after the 15+ attendees were greeted briefly by newly appointed precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis (standing in top photo), who declared himself “glad to be back” while also explaining he’s still “catching up.”

Lt. Smith said the jump in auto thefts is due in part to “a pattern we’re seeing – vehicles are being stolen from elsewhere and dumped here in West Seattle, so we’re having an increased recovery rate here- or, they’re being taken here and dumped in South King County.” with 19 incidents in the preceding week. They’re hopeful the rate will be dropping with recent arrests and the identification of four other potential suspects.

He also said street robberies are back to their average – 3 per week – after the spike earlier this year. The added bicycles are on patrol now, he said, but priorities remain the mandatory 911 levels, so you might not always see 2 bicycle-riding officers per sector if staffing does not allow. “We’re trying to modify our staffing to get the maximum return,” he said. Car prowls are trending downward, as are non-residential burglaries – one in the past week – residential burglaries are currently averaging about 3 per week, less than half the usual rate. “Auto thefts have skyrocketed – there’s 19 vehicle thefts in the past week – but after the recent arrest of juvenile suspects, the rate started going down again, even though they are “not certain they’re (responsible for all).” Four other suspects have been ID’d, said Lt. Smith.

Then came Q/A on community concerns, before the night’s featured guest:

An Arbor Heights resident mentioned a “marked increase in crime where she lives” and wondered “why?” and “what can we do about it?” Lt. Smith replied that “it’s a trend” but they are still working to verify the pattern, while “working to apply additional resources … hopefully you’ll notice an increase in the amount of officers.” The recent local auto-theft arrestees “had shaved keys – so these are not amateurs,” he said. He added that the auto thefts themselves are generally not the only crimes the thieves are committing. Asked by another attendee if the suspects were still in custody, Lt. Smith said he didn’t know – and pointed out, that’s not a decision the police are able to make; it’s up to judges. If they’re adults, precinct liaison Matthew York pointed out, you can check the jail register. (In this particular case though, the suspects are juveniles.)

WSCPC president Richard Miller asked about someone who was knocked down by a skateboarder at Westwood Village. Lt. Smith said warm weather will bring an increase in activity in general at the shopping center, and those kind of clashes might happen.

A nuisance house in South Park – on South Donovan – is being abated, said Community Police Team Officer Jon Kiehn, something they’ve been working on for a long time. Officer Kiehn reminded everyone of the power of Block Watches – catching one suspect might solve 20 to 30 crimes. Lt. Smith reminded everyone that “proper procedures” have to be followed, however – frustrating as it might seem. “But if we apply enough energy and resources, it can get done … if you see a problem, you have to tell us.”

CITY ATTORNEY PETE HOLMES: The meeting’s featured guest was the elected City Attorney, Pete Holmes, who pointed out that some things “offloaded” onto police need to be handled elsewhere – “and that’s where we come in.”

He talked about his background including 30 years as a lawyer, with this his “dream job … actually using the law as it’s intended, to promote public good, make the city a better place to live.” He has been in Seattle for 30 years, and both his kids “are native,” he said.

His office’s staff includes 100 lawyers, and its divisions include civil, criminal, precinct liaisons, administration: “Compared to a private law firm, we’re extremely lean,” Holmes said. “Our 100 lawyers work at considerably less per hour than any private law firm can supply – and yet that’s what we are for the city, its private law firm.” He said the criminal division has just moved into Columbia Center, and now the entire department is in one building, after historically being spread among up to four.

In the criminal department, all the misdemeanors in the city are handled by the City Attorney’s Office, while the felonies are handled by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (that includes all drug crimes, he noted). “SPD is our largest client,” he added. It is his department’s job to defend the city and its employees, and the City Attorney’s Office has “slashed” the amount of judgments paid out, he continued.

That side note took a side turn into the issue of public-disclosure requests, and the laws requiring them to be granted. Holmes allowed that it would be easy to spend an entire meeting on public-records laws, describing himself as a “wonky lawyer” who loves to discuss such things. Side discussions included the privacy rights of domestic-violence victims; that springboarded to another mention of privacy laws. “Domestic violence is a huge issue for us,” said Holmes, mentioning how cases proceed through his department and are intended to lead to “a change in behaviors. … I’d like us to handle DUIs and assaults” in the same way, he said, maybe something for the longer term.

Explaining what the precinct liaison does, Matthew York, who holds that position for the Southwest and South Precints, listed a variety of areas – nuisance houses, animal issues, sometimes “the most random things you can think about, things I never thought I’d have to be expert in” – while he’s not there to “be your attorney,” they try to help resolve disputes – particularly ones that relate to public safety, as Holmes noted. The subsequent slide with a list of what precinct liaisons do went all the way to “hookah bars,” gang activity, park issues, forfeitures, trespass, encampments, prostitution, nightlife, more.

Listed on a slide of the office’s priorities: Race & Social Justice Initiative, Driving Under the Influence, Mental Health Reform, Domestic Violence, Prostituted People/Sex Buyers, Code Compliance, Police Reform, Drug Policy (Marijuana) Reform.

Regarding DUI, York noted that the City Attorney’s Office has “taken a lead in legislative reform of DUI” – suggestions he said he made years ago are now becoming law, “several things that have made it easier to get the story to the jury, (the story of) what happened,” and changes regarding sentencing.

Holmes also touched on laws regarding mental health, and the process of restoring competency for mentally ill defendants – treating them so they can be determined competent to make a plea or stand trial – and how he and King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg had been campaigning for mental-health money to be spent on other things.

Marijuana had been billed as one of the focus topics of the night. What about smoking marijuana in public? Holmes was asked. He mentioned Senate Bill 5052, to combine “the unregulated medical marijuana market with the regulated 502 market,” and said “that will go a long way toward dealing with what we all knew would be a transition period” toward a legal market. “We believe that youth access, cultural norms around where to use it, will follow in time,” including 502′s prohibition on smoking in public.

Most of the problems right now, Holmes said, focus on what he called illegal storefronts and open-air drug markets: “The city has to step up and do more enforcement, especially as illegal supply steps up – there are fewer and fewer excuses for people to patronize their corner dealer or get a marijuana card when they didn’t really have a condition to qualify … it’s going to take time.”

Questions on other topics:

So if neighbors sued the city over, say, a DPD decision, the City Attorney’s Office would be defending the city? Holmes was asked. He said yes, but they try to advise the city so that it doesn’t get to an adversarial point in the first place.

He also talked about working toward operational efficiencies.

“Who do you answer to?” asked one attendee.

“You,” Holmes replied. “I’ll be up again [for re-election] in 2017.”

The discussion also turned to what Community Police Team officers can do – and Lt. Smith noted that this is the only precinct in the city where the number of CPT officers went up. He said he’d like to have twice as many if he could.

Holmes mentioned the case of the Sisley property in Roosevelt and how neighbors’ reports of problems were what it really took to bring millions of dollars in judgments against the owner.
“What the public did was call those numbers – DPD had complaints mounting, and mounting – sending inspectors out – drug use was going on at these abandoned homes … DPD would issue Notices of Violations and those would come to my office … What we did, was try to resolve it as best we can … (one at a time) … Finally we said, we’re not compromising any more with him, he has to pay every nickel of every judgment – Then about a year ago, he finally got it, when he wanted to give one of his properties to his daughter and (the city had a lien on it) .. we said, ‘you can (free it) by writing a check for $3 million’ …” The City Attorney’s Office had to figure out how he was “gaming the system” and how to make it more expensive for him to ignore the law than to comply with it.

WHO WAS THERE? In addition to police and City Attorney’s Office personnel, about 15 attendees were on hand, listing their neighborhoods as Arbor Heights, Morgan Junction, Puget Ridge, South Delridge, Gatewood, Westwood, Highland Park. Aside from its board members, the WSCPC is not a membership group – anyone from any neighborhood can show up and participate, or just listen/observe.

NEXT MEETING: WSCPC meets on third Tuesdays, 7 pm, at the precinct, so the next meeting will be May 19th.

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@ West Seattle Crime Prevention Council: What’s up, what’s down, what’s new + Force Investigations Team guest http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-whats-up-whats-down-whats-new-force-investigations-team-guest/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-whats-up-whats-down-whats-new-force-investigations-team-guest/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 08:53:52 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=304228 From the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council‘s meeting at the Southwest Precinct on Tuesday night:

No new commander announced for the precinct yet, one week after the news of now-Assistant Chief Steve Wilske‘s promotion, which came one year after his SWP arrival. Operations Lt. Ron Smith, who’s in charge of the precinct in the meantime, said he isn’t seeking the position.

CRIME TRENDS: Lt. Smith led the customary briefing. Auto theft is up; burglaries are down. And as has been widely reported, including here, strong-arm robberies are up – if you don’t know the definition, “no weapons implied or used, but that doesn’t make much difference to the victim,” as Lt. Smith put it. He also discussed how incidents get classified as robberies if they aren’t the stereotypical case of a criminal coming up to a victim and demanding something; in particular, the shoplift-turned-robbery type of case was discussed.

Community Police Team Officers Jon Flores and Erin Nicholson got up at that point to get into more detail.

Regarding shoplift-turned-robbery incidents, Officer Flores said they often involve alcohol, so they are continuing to work with stores that just didn’t anticipate the privatization of liquor leading to so mch shoplifting, and didn’t design their liquor sections originally in hadn’t focused much security on it, where it’s located in stores, etc., so now many have built new sections where it’s done, and are making other changes. “It’s still a work in progress, but we’re hoping to see stores go to systems where you can’t just walk up, (get a bottle, and walk out with it).” He said they’re also working with stores regarding the responses that have led to shoplifting turned into robberies because employees’ lives aren’t worth risking over these items – they’re emphasizing having store employees be “good observers” when needed.

While in the past it’s been suggested that police and store security weren’t always in communication, Officer Flores said they’re getting a lot of calls these days, about known suspects being seen, people showing up who have been “trespassed” (written up because of past problems at the store and told they can’t come back), etc.

SOUTHWEST BICYCLE SQUAD: The long-in-the-works plan that was finalized recently is close to reality. It’s starting in two weeks, two bicycles for each sector, and the relief squad too, so “you will see a lot more” officers on bicycles. The two officers who have been on bicycles for a while, said Officer Nicholson, had a meeting with Westwood Village just last week. (She also mentioned a multi-agency meeting is coming up regarding the issues with the Westwood/Roxhill Park transit hub.) Around the peninsula, two bicycle officers will be on night shift and visible while out patroling, Lt. Smith added.

MOBILE PRECINCT: Lt. Smith talked about the new one that the SWP is getting to replace the one that’s been out since arson destroyed it years ago. It’s being put together in Florida. It will not only be helpful on Alki in the summertime, he said, it’ll also work well in a variety of other circumstances, including big events such as West Seattle Summer Fest.


SPECIAL GUEST – FORCE INVESTIGATIONS: The meeting began with a somewhat-surprise guest (no advance announcement from WSCPC), Capt. Mike Teeter, who, as noted in his introduction, worked at the Southwest Precinct in its early days and now leads the Force Investigations Team – another side note, that team was first led by former precinct commander Wilske.

Capt. Teeter’s work relates to the federal investigation of SPD and the resulting reforms. He offered context for his team’s work and how “use of force” investigations have evolved – now starting with supervisors responding to the scene, continuing with interviews and photos, canvassing the area for witnesses and video, accounting for all officers’ actions, evaluating the incident for “areas of concern,” and “prepar(ing) a detailed report.”

The team was “born” a little more than a year ago. He has a lieutenant, sergeant, and 6 detectives, a “very experienced group who received intense training specific to the investigation of use-of-force incidents.”

Capt. Teeter noted that “the vast majority of officers go through the entirety of their career without firing their weapon” – officer-involved shootings happen on average six times a year, in a force that currently numbers about 1,350 officers, he said. When it happens, “We don’t come in assuming it’s a good shooting or assuming it’s a bad shooting – we collect the evidence.” Force Investigations works with the CSI team to process scenes. The Office of Professional Accountability also gets involved. Two binders of paperwork usually ensue, and the investigation goes through “three levels of Force Investigations Team supervisor/staff review internally before submission to the assistant chief.” From there, it goes to OPA, and to the federal monitor, and finally to the Force Review Board.

He said investigations result in training and potential procedure changes, after a long list of questions asked by that board. And he said SPD releases information about it “so the media doesn’t just spin (their own version).”

In 2014, the team handled 46 total cases, 9 officer-involved shootings.

Is the department incorporating body-cam video into these processes and investigations? was the first question when Capt. Teeter segued into Q/A. Yes, he said, while noting that right now it’s just a pilot program through the East Precinct. (Lt. Smith pointed out that blurred versions of the body-camera videos are available now on a YouTube channel.) Also regarding video, he said that police scour areas where incidents happen in hopes of finding citizens’ video, whether via surveillance cameras or phone cameras. Lt. Smith also mentioned the in-car video from police vehicles, saying that supervisors watch every minute of it while investigating/reviewing incidents.

He showed a clip from a Phoenix TV newscast in which a man identified as a local civil-rights activist “experience(d) use-of-force training.” (You can see it here.)

NEXT WSCPC MEETING: The special guest for the next meeting, 7 pm Tuesday, April 21st, is scheduled to be Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes.

–Tracy Record, WSB editor

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@ West Seattle Crime Prevention Council: Updates on WS robberies, South Park homicide, more http://westseattleblog.com/2015/02/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-updates-on-ws-robberies-south-park-homicide-more/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/02/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-updates-on-ws-robberies-south-park-homicide-more/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 04:17:58 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=301356 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The Southwest Precinct‘s commander says extra staffing to protect students – “double the staff on first watch” – will continue “for the foreseeable future.”

That was part of what Capt. Steve Wilske had to say at tonight’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting. Other measures taken to try to stop the string of robbery/grabbing incidents include instant alerts that he is getting in the case of any crime in which the victim is a juvenile. Updates in the meeting included not only the recent incidents but also last weekend’s South Park homicide plus overall local crime trends:

ROBBERY SERIES: The most recent robbery targeting a student was on February 4th, according to Capt. Wilske. In addition to the two arrests, they’ve also had a search warrant for a vehicle, he said. “We’re making at least a little bit of progress.” Robberies overall have increased citywide, he notes, but here in the Southwest Precinct, there’ve been five in the past week – more than double the usual “2 or so” rate. Three of them started as shoplifting incidents at local supermarkets, which are categorized as robberies once they turn into incidents involving force, actual or implied. The fourth was a case of a son robbing his mother, and there’s been an arrest in that, and the fifth was a 26th/Roxbury purse-snatching attempt targeting a young woman getting off a RapidRide bus.

FEBRUARY 11TH INCIDENTS: Regarding the 26th/Trenton, 25th/Thistle grabbings on the 11th – though the description’s a bit different, Capt. Wilske thinks the same person may be to blame. They don’t seem to be related to the “girl followed off a bus by someone she knows” incident that same day. A detective is handling both of the grabbing cases and updating Capt. Wilske regularly. The “possible exposer” the next day drew such a big response because they already had so many officers in the area. The person disappeared so quickly that he might live in the area or know someone who does, he said.

SOUTH PARK HOMICIDE UPDATE AND OTHER CRIME IN SP: Homicide detectives have the investigation, said Capt. Wilske, which, while a cause of death hasn’t yet been announced, generally confirms it’s being treated as a crime. Investigators have canvassed the area looking for video and other evidence – call the tipline, 206-233-5000, if you have any information. Meantime, he’ll be meeting with South Park residents to talk about other crime concerns, which revolve mainly around “a couple of problem houses.” Community Police Team Officer Jon Flores said the CPT is also stepping up its involvement to help resolve some of the concerns, and the Anti-Crime Team will be involved as well. “Hopefully within the next little while we can report back some victories in South Park – we’ll be working with the community on that.” Capt. Wilske thinks SP will be perfect for a bike team (noting that he was a bicycle officer himself for about two years). He noted later that burglaries in SP are actually down, while saying he knows that’s no consolation to the victims of however many incidents *do* happen.

BICYCLE SQUAD: Two officers currently spend most of their time on bicycles, and local patterns further bolster Capt. Wilske’s hopes of a permanent bike squad – ideally, six officers, he says, though “I have to be careful I don’t (take too many officers away from) 911 response.” The current bicycle-equipped officers’ presence at Westwood Village so far has dramatically reduced the number of incidents happening there. And he’s continuing to get a phone call 24/7 any time a juvenile is victimized.

DRUG CONCERNS AROUND HIAWATHA/ADMIRAL SAFEWAY: Erik Walum from the Hiawatha Community Center Advisory Council asked Capt. Wilske about drug-dealing concerns in that area, and repeated reports including drug paraphernalia/needles found in the community center’s restrooms. He and city attorney liaison Matthew York had an exchange about what happens to juveniles arrested in drug cases – is it true that “nothing will happen to them?” York said, “That’s not true,” though it won’t be a case of long-term detention unless there are extreme circumstances. Arrest and prosecution will still happen, he and Capt. Wilske said. Officer Flores from the CPT said they want to work with the community to “get these individuals identified” and get an investigation going.

PARK SAFETY IN GENERAL: Pete Spalding from the Southwest Precinct Advisory Council asked what can be done as the weather warms up to try to keep problems like car prowls under control. Capt. Wilske’s advice: First – come borrow an engraver and engrave your driver license number on your valuables; second – don’t leave ANYTHING visible in your car. Even if you don’t think it looks valuable, don’t leave it visible, because a car prowler will take the gamble that maybe, just maybe, there’s something inside.

SOME GOOD NEWS: Overall, the rates of burglaries and auto thefts in the Southwest Precinct are both down, and “the property-crime numbers are the lowest in the city, but that doesn’t matter if your place was broken into or you know somebody whose place was broken into.”

RETURN OF THE CHIEF? The captain was asked when Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole might come back, as promised when a protest cut short her West Seattle “community conversation” two weeks ago. He said they’re hoping it will happen within the next few weeks. And they will plan a format so that while “free speech rights are respected,” the meeting can proceed – “how best to protect the rights of everybody,” as city attorney liaison York put it, recalling recent conversations involving the City Attorney’s Office as well as others. “The meeting will occur,” Capt. Wilske promised.

COMMUNITY POLICE TEAM UPDATE: How’s the staffing now? the captain was asked. Reply: Officers Flores and Erin Nicholson are on the CPT now, and Officer Jon Kiehn will rejoin them eventually.

DESC INCIDENTS: One attendee asked how the DESC Cottage Grove Commons housing complex at 5444 Delridge Way SW is working out in terms of emergency calls. Between police and fire, so far they are averaging about 300 visits a year (mostly fire, for medical reasons) – in the first year and a half the facility’s been open, said Capt. Wilske: “We’re there an awful lot.” But he and Officer Flores said they’re working with the staff to try to bring that down and will in fact be joining in a staff meeting later this week. Asked how the rate compares to other DESC facilities around the city, Capt. Wilske said he didn’t have access to that data.

The West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meets third Tuesdays, 7 pm, Southwest Precinct, all welcome.

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‘Apple-picking,’ nuisance houses, crime trends, and other discussions @ West Seattle Crime Prevention Council http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/apple-picking-nuisance-houses-crime-trends-and-other-discussions-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/apple-picking-nuisance-houses-crime-trends-and-other-discussions-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 04:56:05 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=298754 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

No new information about Saturday’s Morgan Junction holdup, when it was brought up during tonight’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting.

What did dominate the evening was a wide-ranging discussion on various neighborhoods’ problems and what can, can’t, and – in some neighbors’ view – should be done about them.

First, the crime-trend update:

LOCAL CRIME TRENDS: Auto theft has remained the same – a high level, but “we’re starting to make some arrests.” Car prowls are “down drastically.” So said precinct operations Lt. Ron Smith, representing precinct leadership at the meeting – he said car prowls are down to 11 in the past week, compared to 18. A new way of handling the data is being implemented soon, he said, so that could make a change. Nonresidential burglaries are down; residential burglary is down 40 percent from an average week, 6 compared to the average of 10. “We’ve made a couple arrests, and that might have made a difference – names known to the community.” Strong-arm robberies, usually 1 a week, this past week we’ve had two (both reported here).

Asked about the strong-arm robbery, Lt. Smith mentioned – without specifying the location – the Sealth student who was walking to school when her phone was stolen. They don’t know yet for sure whether the robber is a student or not, though “similar age group” to the victim. Sometimes the response time is hampered by the fact the robbery isn’t reported until they tell their parents hours later. He says this type of robbery has now been dubbed “Apple-picking.”

Asked about shoplifting, aggravated assault, drug-dealing arrests, Lt. Smith said he doesn’t have numbers on those categories but can get them. He says the Anti-Crime Team is going after drug crime right now, though, and that drug dealing is being addressed “through other methods” – CPTED, such as lighting, removing phone booths, cutting back shrubbery, and talking to businesses to let them know it’s their responsibility to keep watch on what’s happening on their property.

NUISANCE HOUSES: A question is asked about a South Delridge block and a particular house on 17th SW. Lt. Smith says they’re aware of several trouble houses. Precinct liaison Matthew York from the City Attorney’s Office, seated next to Lt. Smith (photo at right), gives his card to the asker. Another man says there’s a similar problem in his neighborhood – stolen cars dumped, an unregistered sex offender who they say had a teenage girl in his house, someone else who was wanted on warrants and “had a sawed-off shotgun.” The house in question had “constant turnover,” troublemakers in the back yard – they would report the problems, police would show up, and be deterred by a locked gate and people going into hiding. “With (houses like this) you can look at the 911 calls – 197 on that block – (people have) called constantly.” Someone else says “it’s kind of like we’re at war” but it has quieted down a bit with the involvement of the Community Police Team.

People are pulling up in cars and smoking heroin, a resident went on to say. “If you see someone smoking heroin, that’s a 911 call,” says York. Is a photo evidence of what happened? the resident asked. The officer generally has to see the crime being committed, York replies. They can’t just stop someone because someone says they stopped them doing something. Another attendee asks, what if that person is driving under the influence, then, can they be pulled over? York explains the legal issues. “They can stop and arrest him, but whether they can prosecute him … comes down to a whole lot of case law.”

The prior resident says that he thinks there’s a “whole lot of value” in seeing police driving past, say, the drug-smoking person sitting in their car. And then comes a discussion about living next door to chronic offenders who are out of jail “and they know I put them there … we’re surrounded by felons whose rights are more elevated than ours. We’ve been victimized by them all this time.” She said she didn’t have a complaint about police response, just the situation in general that has left them next door to the felons. York says he’d like to talk to them offline.

Should this go before the City Council? Is there a place to get more help? asks another attendee. “It’s a complicated legal situation,” says York, but maybe, for example, the Department of Planning and Development might have an ordinance that would apply.

Another attendee points out that this sounds like the nuisance-house situation at 36th/Morgan that was addressed with the help of the City Attorney’s Office. “Is there something that could be done without us having to come to a meeting like this” to get help? she wonders – perhaps the Community Police Team? The South Delridge residents say the CPT has addressed their situation and it’s “quieted down” somewhat as a result, as those officers “have been real direct” with the chronic offenders next door.

Lt. Smith points out that 911 calls are what get the most attention for trouble spots – repeated 911 calls. “Foreclosed homes” are a problem right now, “and you wouldn’t believe how many we have in West Seattle.” He says that one particular (unnamed) bank owns “85 percent” of the vacant, bank-owned homes in West Seattle, and they have a contract with that company that allows them to cut right to the chase if action is needed at a particular address.

Another attendee suggests neighbors might threaten to take offending neighbors to small-claims court; she mentions living next door to a house whose owner wasn’t the problem, “but they had rotten relatives.”

Keep calling 911, urges Lt. Smith.

Finally a question about Saturday’s robbery in Morgan Junction – a man cites the WSB comment from someone who wrote about seeing suspicious people in the area a short time earlier and reported being told, when calling 911, that nothing could be done if a crime wasn’t being committed.

“What was the crime?” York asked repeatedly.

“A–holery,” it was suggested.

But – that’s not a crime, it was repeated. Another man said that near 17th/Henderson, he had encountered someone who behaved threateningly and not gotten much of a response. “If you want police at the doorstep right away, tell them you’re going to do to the person what the person is doing to you,” he said, and that’s the only way to get a response.

Back to the Morgan parking lot, “suspicious behavior is at the bottom of the priority list” in terms of what police can report to. If reported as “they’re slowing down cars and harassing people,” that might be a crime, but if you just say “they’re walking in front of a car and slowing it down,” the operator might not perceive that as the type of problem you’re seeing.

Don’t be nice about it when you call something in, said Lt. Smith.

At that point, a TV reporter identified herself from the corner and asks about the Morgan robbery case and the surveillance video mentioned in our earlier coverage. Lt. Smith looks into a sheaf of report copies he’s brought, to try to find information about the case.

If suspects are identified, will their photos be made available? it’s asked. Not if they’re juveniles, York says, unless they are charged as adults.

Is it legal for someone to walk around with their face covered (as was one of the robbers) – let’s say, if it’s not freezing cold weather? Yes, it is, the law enforcers reply.

Coming back to the subject of the 911 call made earlier that morning, another man in the corner mentions again that you have to be very direct with police – you can’t just say you think something MIGHT be happening, you saw someone who kind of sort of made you wonder. You have to be factual and direct. (No one here had firsthand knowledge of that call, including police, so they were just speculating that perhaps the caller was not.)

Another attendee asks about the prioritization mentioned earlier. Lt. Smith said it depends on what else is going on. The attendee goes on to ask about staffing – “do you have enough officers to respond in a reasonable amount of time?” Lt. Smith says shortly thereafter, “Yeah, we need a lot more officers. We have the amount of officers we had in the late ’60s. We need more officers not only in West Seattle but citywide.”

“Is it a recruiting issue or a funding issue?” asks an attendee.

Both, says Lt. Smith. Personally, he says, as a 35-year cop, he wishes far more money would go toward police services – but where do you take it away? Social services? Fire Department? Roads? “What I have to do is work with the number of officers we have. And we have an incredible bunch of officers here.” He notes that the Southwest Precinct remains a popular place to work.

An attendee goes back to the Morgan robbery, wondering if anyone had seen a gun when the people reported in the street, who might have been the robbers. Another attendee points out (from the report we published earlier) that the gun didn’t come out until after the first robber had asked the victim about the time.

From another attendee: “These things happen in cities … the majority of us here are concerned about the underlying (situation)” such as nuisance houses and chronic offenders.

“We go through phases,” said Lt. Smith. “Right now, community policing is taking the lead” for SPD, the City Attorney’s Office, etc. He brings up the work done to clear encampments. “It sounds simple ‘just clear them out’ – in the city, it’s not that simple, because of the political environment and the legal environment. … we have to follow a proper step-by-step process and it’s time-consuming as heck, but (once we do) we get the people who need help, social services.”

York notes that the Community Police Team has two officers in this area right now but they hope to be getting a third back.

The nuisance-house neighbors say that they wish they could have found an FAQ that would tell them what to do about problems like this, and possibly even have access to knowing that police have been to their neighborhood recently, so they know that officers are on the case – “could we type in ‘house on 19th’ and see” – Lt. Smith says the followup visits don’t always generate new report numbers; the attendee says even if they did, it’s hard to follow.

York says the FAQ idea is a good one, noting that the City Attorney’s Office is redoing its website and that might be something for it.

Neighbors go on to talk about various other problems – including stolen shopping carts, and no prosecution, with store reps showing up. “Did the store owner follow up and want to charge them with a crime?” asked Lt. Smith. The neighbors didn’t know.

Now an attendee speaks up and says, some of these robberies are happening in the morning – is there a standard patrol that’s happening? Lt. Smith mentions that first watch, 3 am to noon, is the shortest-staffed time period. The attendee says a concern is that she can’t tell her teenage daughter, avoid a certain area – “it’s happening all over West Seattle.” Replies Lt. Smith: “It’s happening all over the city.” He also acknowledges that SPD is reactive – if a pattern erupts, they focus resources in a certain area. But by “the next meeting,” there might be a request for resources elsewhere, because the previous problem has been alleviated.

From the other side of the room: “The community is relying on you guys to protect them and come out to calls … I don’t live here, I work here, but like my community, I see a lot of you wanting to do something and not knowing what to do … how can you put out the word that this is a community to be reckoned with.” She says she teaches workshops on “how not to be a victim.”

“Our big thing is Block Watch,” Lt. Smith noted, and more discussion ensued about ways that neighbors can talk with each other.

So what’s being done about addressing the underlying causes? he was asked. What can be done about chronic offenders?

He didn’t have a pithy answer – but did recount a story from his days as a foot-beat officer, how a young offender changed his ways – “People change.”

Another man said that a civic-minded attitude can help. “In our neighborhood, I look around, and I don’t see anything for kids to do.” Somebody suggested that we put out a list of things for kids to do. (We actually do have listings on the calendar. The city-run community centers also have pamphlets full of listings.)

“Volunteer at a school,” suggested one person. “I don’t have time,” was the reply.

Someone else brought the conversation back around to “crime.” She said she’s seeing an increased presence on 21st SW, where she says she’s lived since childhood, but it’s “never been as bad as it is now … I’m really glad to see people here, because I’m not willing to just see it” (fall apart). She then asks a question about some of the side streets, such as Juneau and Brandon, and how she interacts with neighbors when she’s out for a walk. She said she has encountered some who saw suspicious behavior but didn’t report it. Then she mentions one neighbor’s report of what seems to be youth camping in a wetland area, “surrounding by electronics … that they probably didn’t buy.”

“It’s illegal to camp in Parks property,” said York.

The talk then came around to, the issue of seeing “suspicious” behavior, and when police can be called in and when they can’t. “If you take a picture of someone behaving suspiciously, what do you do with it?” asked one man. “Just walking down the street,” you can’t do much with that. “But if (the suspicious person) is putting a safe in the back of their car …”

He asked to clarify: So the Community Police Team officer would be the first point of contact about the suspicious behavior? Yes, said Lt. Smith, noting that the CPT officers on duty right now are Jon Flores and Erin Nicholson. (Find contact info for the CPT on the SPD website, here. Officer Nicholson is filling in this month for Officer Kiehn, per Lt. Smith.)

A woman then voiced hope that once arrested, convicted, and put behind bars, offenders would be trained so they could get jobs “and be a good person” when they get out. Lt. Smith agreed that “correctional” facilities don’t seem to be “correcting” anyone.

At that point, WSCPC president Richard Miller asked for ideas of topics to address at future meetings. Graffiti vandalism was mentioned – “a police perspective on the trends,” for example.

Another suggestion: How various departments/agencies work together on crime/safety issues, so that the public can better understand.

The WSCPC meets on third Tuesdays most months, 7 pm, Southwest Precinct.

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West Seattle Crime Prevention Council, report #2: SPD’s plan for last day of school and rest of summer http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-report-2-spds-plan-for-last-day-of-school-and-rest-of-summer/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-report-2-spds-plan-for-last-day-of-school-and-rest-of-summer/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 20:48:56 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=276767 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske has a plan for tomorrow – the last day of Seattle Public Schools classes – and he told the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council about it last night during the WSCPC meeting at Lincoln Park.

That and other toplines ahead:

First in the briefing – No big headlines in the crime-trend notes. Burglaries, auto thefts, and strongarm robberies continue to be concerns. Capt. Wilske (right) mentioned the burglary for which two teenage girls were arrested, reported here two weeks ago; we asked him post-meeting if they were suspected in any other cases, and he said so far, no, but the investigation continues.

He also mentioned the Jacobsen Road strong-arm robbery – first reported here, with a followup here – and another street robbery that involved a gun (3 am last Saturday in the 2000 block of Alki SW, per a report we subsequently obtained). In most cases, the victim is attacked while distracted from her/his surroundings, so Capt. Wilske urged everyone to be hyper-aware while out and about.

And he mentioned something else already reported here, that repeat offender Ryan Cox is out of jail, now that he’s served all the time remaining on his most recent sentence. He has a hearing one week from today, so, Wilske said, “let the precinct know if there’s any problem with him.”

Then he brought up the last day of school tomorrow. Starting around noon, the precinct is bringing in additional staffing, and they will be on as late as needed, with Alki as a focus, though not the only area of emphasis. Drinking is a major trigger for trouble, Wilske noted, so they’ll be looking for that; if you’re on Alki, you’ll see police tomorrow from many areas of the department, including Gang Unit, Anti-Crime Team, and other teams.

Other big events for which SPD is planning a beefed-up presence include the Seafair Pirates Landing on June 28th (one week from Saturday) and the big South Park Bridge celebration the next day – he stressed that trouble is not expected at any of these events, but when thousands of people gather, SPD wants to be there in the better-safe-than-sorry vein. And extra police will be on duty on the 4th of July. Asked about fireworks calls on and before the holiday, Wilske said that they will be responded to when they can (he didn’t mention this, but for example, we know that SPD went to Lincoln Park after reports of fireworks last Saturday, possibly associated with gatherings after two local high-school graduations).

In addition to Alki, Wilske said Westwood Village/Roxhill Park remains high on the list of areas for extra attention this summer. He reiterated his previously mentioned plans to make bike patrol possible for much of the precinct force, with two bicycle-riding officers to be stationed on Alki “on a daily basis,” and other areas such as Roxhill getting two-wheeled police depending on how assignments and demands go. The entire Anti-Crime Team will be bicycle-equipped, he added.

A North Admiral issue discussed at the most recent Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting came up briefly – the question of locking the gate at Hamilton Viewpoint Park after-hours. Carol Baker, regional manager for West Seattle-area parks, was at the meeting and said the seasonal gate-locking just began last Sunday night.

Regarding Lincoln Park car prowls, the SPD reps on hand (which included Community Police Team Officer Jon Flores) said both main parking lots are affected, so it’s not an issue of one or the other; they urged people not to leave anything of value in their cars, even if you think it’s safe because you’re hiding it in the trunk or under a seat.

As questions from attendees ran out, and the meeting moved toward an early wrap, one woman threw out a question to Capt. Wilske: “How can we help you?”

His reply: “When you see officers, go up and talk to them, say hello, share your thoughts about law enforcement, whatever. If you see something you’re concerned about, call 911. Even if (it’s something minor) and we don’t get there right away, we do a lot of statistical analysis, I need to know where things are going on.” That means report even car prowls where nothing is taken, etc.

That’s when we asked the new precinct liaison from the City Attorney’s Office, Matthew York, to share information about his background – see that story here.

The WSCPC will not meet again until the third Tuesday in September. The next crime-prevention-related group to meet will be the West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network, which meets on fourth Tuesdays, and has the Gang Unit on its agenda for next week – read about that here.

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West Seattle Crime Watch: Stolen stroller; hit-run; vandalism http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/west-seattle-crime-watch-stolen-stroller-hit-run-vandalism/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/west-seattle-crime-watch-stolen-stroller-hit-run-vandalism/#comments Tue, 17 Jun 2014 01:50:39 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=276659 Three West Seattle Crime Watch reader reports. First one’s from Johnali:

Our Bob Revolution jogging stroller (black), was stolen from our secured building between 6:30 pm last night and 7:30am this morning. We live on Delridge and Trenton. Anything would be helpful as we are still hopeful we will find it.

Let police know if you do. Second, Lynn‘s hoping to find the hit-run driver who damaged her car and another one just south of The Junction:

The 2 cars that were hit were parked 1/2 block north of Rite Aid, near a telephone and across the street from a large apartment building construction site (west side of California Avenue, SW). My car is a 2013 gray 4 door Nissan Altima. I do not know the make of the other car that was hit, but its owner told me that her left-side mirror was bent backwards and was missing most of the mirror glass. I didn’t find any paint from the car that hit mine. However, I did find a side mirror on the ground near my car that may have been from the car that hit mine. It appears from the damage my car sustained that the offending car came from the north, which would mean that their car would be missing their right side mirror. I’ve kept the side mirror, just in case.

Third, Kezia wondered if anybody else woke up Sunday morning in the Westwood area to find out their car had been vandalized – a crude drawing in black paint on a white car, in her case.

REMINDER: Bring community concerns to the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council‘s meeting at Lincoln Park Shelter 1 tomorrow (Tuesday) night, 7 pm, map here.

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Progress reports on trouble spots and more @ West Seattle Crime Prevention Council http://westseattleblog.com/2014/05/progress-reports-on-trouble-spots-and-more-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/05/progress-reports-on-trouble-spots-and-more-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council/#comments Thu, 22 May 2014 22:26:38 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=274107 Even before Tuesday night’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting, Southwest Precinct police leaders had promised that the Roxhill Park/Westwood Village area would be one of three emphasis spots for beefed-up summertime prevention/enforcement efforts. Westwood in particular dominated the discussion, though precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske said his “summer plan” had not yet won final approval from department leadership.

SUMMER PLAN: With the recent warm weather, “Alki’s starting to get real busy for us,” Capt. Wilske began, saying he plans to have extra officers there on Friday and Saturday nights for starters, as well as increased patrols for Roxhill/Westwood and for Lincoln Park.

One of his strategies, also mentioned at earlier community meetings, is to get officers onto bicycles, at least part-time. He said he’s hoping to have bikes and gear for up to 12 officers. “They’ll be patrol officers, I can’t exempt them from 911 response, (but) they’ll have bikes so when they have down time they’ll be able to get into one of these emphasis areas and start riding.”

WESTWOOD VILLAGE: Community Police Team Officer Jon Kiehn said the recent trouble with shoplifting, threats, and more, tends to involve “the same people over and over again.”

SPD has been working with Westwood management and businesses, he said, to encourage them to use the tools they have to “disallow” troublemakers – such as the “trespass” policy – but “they historically haven’t been using that authority to assist us in dealing with the crime there (so) we’re trying to figure out ways we can work smarter and better with the kids (who are) causing trouble.” In the past month, he said, they’ve made progress: “We’re in a much better place than we were a month ago, trying to identify who they are and why they are there – it’s just a matter of continuing to communicate with businesses and property owners.” Later, he added that SPD has been working with some of the big stores that carry liquor and that at least two stores are beefing up the security of their liquor areas, to deter shoplifting.

STREET ROBBERIES: If you are a regular reader here, you know – even without looking up stats – there’ve been more street robberies reported in recent months than before, and Capt. Wilske acknowledged “a significant increase.” He called them generally “crimes of opportunity, (so) the best way to deal with them is to try to prevent them.” The robbers will notice potential victims using their devices, then “punch them and grab (the device) and they’re gone, we don’t get good descriptions because they usually assault the (victims).” The entire city is seeing an increase in this, he said, so they are working with the department’s Robbery Unit to see “if we can identify or arrest some of these folks (and) get the ACT (Anti-Crime Team) involved – a number of them around Westwood Village, we know who they are; our crime analysis officer has identified (them) so we’ve got a bulletin out … The thing I can’t stress enough is prevention – prevent it by being alert – if you have to use your phone, use it but … don’t be so preoccupied that you’re not looking up and making eye contact with people.” Officer Kiehn added that if it’s late at night and you’re staring at your bright phone screen, then you hear something and look up, your eyes are still getting adjusted and you’re not likely to get a good look at a potential robber.

OTHER CRIMES: Car prowls and burglaries have been at an average level recently, he said, while warning against complacency as summer kicks in. If you’re going somewhere and have to leave something of value in your car, hide it before you get to your destination, so you’re not seen hiding it. And if you choose to leave anything visible – even a bag you know contains only, say, dirty gym clothes – would-be thieves will take 15 seconds to do “$700 worth of damage” to check it out by breaking your vehicle window.

GRAFFITI: An extensive discussion ensued, with frustrated neighbors wondering “what’s happening and why, and why aren’t they getting caught?” There were no easy answers. One particularly prolific tagger, Officer Kiehn said, whose four-letter name starting with “M” is legion, is known to officers, though he wasn’t sure where the vandal’s prosecution stood; he hasn’t seen many new tags recently with that vandal’s handle. Overall, said an attendee, “it’s just getting to be insufferable.” Another attendee advised him to call the city’s graffiti hotline, because the property owner will be required to clean it up within 10 days if it’s private property, or if it’s public property, she said, someone will be sent out within 10 days to clean it up. Capt. Wilske did acknowledge that since graffiti vandalism is generally “misdemeanor property damage,” the penalty for anyone convicted of it is probably less than community members would want to see. “In terms of prosecution, we really rely on public tips,” added Officer Kiehn.

JUVENILE SUSPECTS: In a spinoff from the Westwood Village discussions, an attendee mentioned hearing about employees worried that juvenile troublemakers were waiting nearby to “jump” them, and that led to a discussion about what happens when juveniles are arrested in those circumstances. Whether they are booked into the Youth Service Center or not depends on the “ultimate authority” of screeners at the facility, said Capt. Wilske, but even if they are not booked, and released to their parents, that doesn’t mean they’re getting off without prosecution – police still file reports and prosecutors review them for charges. There’s also a “complex system” of potential services to try to get young offenders back on track.

‘PICKUP HIT BY BULLETS’ CASE: The SPD reps were asked about the circumstances surrounding the recent case of a pickup truck hit by gunfire, described on SPD Blotter (as reported here) as likely “related to ongoing gang activity.” CPT Officer Jon Flores said the concern in the area had involved “particularly one apartment complex (and) kids who may or may not have been gang members,” with police educating property managers there about their ability to kick out non-residents. He added that “the victim whose vehicle got shot was not willing to provide a whole lot of information.”

PROBLEM VEHICLE: An attendee brought up the recent WSB Forums discussion of an aggressive driver, and asked if it were really true that nothing could be done unless an officer actually witnessed the aggressive-driving behavior. The attendee said she believed police were aware of the driver because a dispatcher had been heard (via scanner) mentioning a specific plate number. It was explained that without catching the driver in the act, police wouldn’t be able to prove who was driving; however, given information about the vehicle and owner, they could potentially make a “social contact,” aka a “knock and talk.” The attendee planned to follow up with the Community Police Team.

MORE TO COME: The meeting did turn out to have a special guest – from the Crisis Clinic – and we’ll write separately about the information she provided.

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West Seattle Crime Prevention Council: Trends, concerns, SPD hiring http://westseattleblog.com/2014/03/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-trends-concerns-spd-hiring/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/03/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-trends-concerns-spd-hiring/#comments Sun, 23 Mar 2014 02:05:48 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=268091 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Not so many property-crime reports in West Seattle Crime Watch lately, and the report from Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Ron Smith (photo left) at this week’s WS Crime Prevention Council offered one reason why: The criminals just haven’t been as busy.

Might be this month’s almost-record-setting rain, Lt. Smith acknowledged, but whatever the case, burglaries in the week preceding Tuesday’s meeting were down to 6 from the average 9 – “we’d like to get to zero,” he noted, mentioning that the SW Anti-Crime Team is “going after people related to a theft ring, on top of burglary, stolen property, narcotics … there will be some search warrants served.” (Whether that’s related to the 32nd/Juneau bust reported here Thursday night, we’re still trying to find out.)

Auto-theft cases in the preceding week were down as well, Lt. Smith reported – 5, compared to the average 8; non-residential burglaries average 2, and there had been one.

Community concerns voiced immediately after the crime-trends briefing included local parks – questions about the gate at Hamilton Viewpoint Park in North Admiral not being locked at night, and about unlocked bathrooms at Roxhill Park late at night. Lt. Smith and Community Police Team Officer Jon Flores promised to check into both.

The meeting’s featured guests were from the Seattle Police recruiting team – talking about how SPD finds, screens, trains, and hires candidates.

Hiring is a critical issue for the department, they explained, since there are about 200 members of the force – nearly 1 in 6 – who are eligible for retirement or almost there. And the time between application and hiring, for qualified candidates, is up to 10 months, followed by more than 4 months in the academy, and five more months of training, resulting in about a year and a half between application and hiring. So they are scouring the community for potential new hires, and have a website – seattlepolicejobs.com.

Officers Sonya Fry and Andre Sinn (photo right) were accompanied by Detective Kevin Nelson, whose specialty is background-checking candidates. This year, they’re hoping to hire 85 new officers, and up to 75 each of the next two years, but that’s not as easy as simply putting out the call. Even before a candidate gets to the academy, there are written, video, and physical-agility tests; an oral board; extensive background checks; polygraph; psychological and physical examinations. To be a sworn officer, you have to be a US citizen, and have a driver’s license. There are also criteria such as, if you have a history of marijuana use, you can’t have used it for the past year (used to be three years, the officers said), nor more than 25 times in 10 years.

For the test this past February, 1,300 people applied; 500 showed up; 200 failed written and video testing, so it was down to 300 going into the physical-agility test. Overall, one new officer results from each 20 or so applicants.

Officers Fry and Sinn go everywhere they can to recruit; even the visit to the Crime Prevention Council was in hopes the word will get out about this possible career, and their upcoming calendar includes going to the Northwest Women’s Show. (They were asked how many applicants are female and said they didn’t have that statistic, but did say women comprise 14 percent of the current force.)

No age limit, by the way, they told the WSCPC attendees: “We have some joining after they retire from the military, starting a second career in law enforcement.” The minimum age is 20 1/2, so that you’ll be over 21 by the time of potential hiring.

If you’re interested in a specialty, such as CSI, that’s not going to happen right from the start – everyone begins as a patrol officer. After three years, you can go to “detective school” – that rank, by the way, is the same level as patrol officer. (We didn’t realize this until testimony in the murder trial we’re covering, in which a detective testified about being supervised by a sergeant.)

What are the rules about hair? asked one woman in attendance. “Has to be off your collar,” replied Officer Fry. She talked about her fitness regime and how it’s important to “stay in shape so I can run after the 18-year-olds who are running away from me.” Lots of CrossFit training, she noted, saying later that she’s been on the force nine years (Officer Sinn and Det. Nelson are both 15-year veterans).

Can you ask to be assigned to the Southwest Precinct? asked another attendee.

Lt. Smith answered that one: “It’s a hard precinct to get assigned to; the officers that work here love this community – (as opposed to other areas) you guys wave at us with all your fingers!” Though he’s way up the ladder now, he said he enjoyed old-time police work – “walking the beat, talking to people.” (Every summer we’ve tabled at West Seattle Summer Fest, he’s supervised the on-scene officers, which meant a LOT of talking to people, including those who show up at the Information Booth with an urgent problem such as a lost child.)

If recent publicity related to the Department of Justice supervision of SPD has made you wonder about a preponderance of questionable people on the force, Det. Nelson plaintively tried to counter that, saying, “I wish people knew how much we are able to screen people who shouldn’t be out there,” and making it clear the process does catch a lot of unsuitable candidates.

TESTING DATES THIS YEAR: For entry-level candidates, July 12th and October 4th; for “lateral” candidates – who are or have been part of other law-enforcement departments – September 19th-22nd.

NEXT WSCPC MEETING: The council meets the third Tuesday of each month, and president Richard Miller tells WSB that he’s confirmed guests from the SPD Crisis Intervention team for the next meeting, April 15th (7 pm, SW Precinct).

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Happening tonight: Fauntleroy Community Association, West Seattle Crime Prevention Council http://westseattleblog.com/2014/03/happening-tonight-fauntleroy-community-association-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/03/happening-tonight-fauntleroy-community-association-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council/#comments Tue, 18 Mar 2014 20:42:09 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=268023 Two community meetings tonight that we want to mention before it’s too late:

FAUNTLEROY ‘FOOD FEST’: Bites from local eateries are an incentive offered by the Fauntleroy Community Association to get nearby residents to its annual membership meeting, part information fair, part mingling opportunity, part election, as previewed here, all starting at 6 pm at The Hall at Fauntleroy. (9131 California SW)

WEST SEATTLE CRIME PREVENTION COUNCIL: WSCPC is scheduled to hear about crime trends from new precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske, and you’re invited to ask about neighborhood concerns. Also, special guests from SPD will talk about recruitment and background checks, as previewed here. 7 pm, Southwest Precinct. (Delridge/Webster)

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Ryan Cox back in jail, after another discussion @ West Seattle Crime Prevention Council: http://westseattleblog.com/2014/02/ryan-cox-back-in-jail-after-another-discussion-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/02/ryan-cox-back-in-jail-after-another-discussion-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council/#comments Wed, 19 Feb 2014 23:35:49 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=265455 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Repeat offender Ryan Cox is back in jail this afternoon, hours after his case came up at last night’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting – on a night when the Seattle Mental Health Court was a long-planned topic of discussion.

During the discussion of Cox’s case, we discovered a warrant had been out for his arrest for two weeks, a warrant for violation of probation – same reason he had been taken in (and released after a day) last month. This time, the notation on the publicly viewable Municipal Court docket described him as “not a good candidate for probation” and labeled the warrant as “do not release.” (Photo at right is from 2009, distributed by police the first time Cox was being sought for vandalism.)

The docket also mentioned presiding Municipal Court Judge Kimi Kondo, who happened to be last night’s guest speaker.

Here’s how last night unfolded, including the discussion of the Mental Health Court in general, as well as Cox’s case.

Cox came up during the “community concerns” section of the meeting following new precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske‘s listing of current crime trends (WSB coverage here). An attendee mentioned Cox’s brief time in jail last month following a discussion at the January WSCPC meeting (explained in this WSB report). “We’ve told the patrol officers to be (on the lookout) for him,” Capt. Wilske offered. But the attendee was implacable, frustrated that Cox was back out again.

Judge Kondo tried to explain how the Mental Health Court process worked, but didn’t have any direct knowledge of Cox’s case.

“Do you think nine times in Western State Hospital is enough?” the attendee asked, regarding Cox’s record. Judge Kondo explained how competency and dropping of charges worked, as well as the threshold for civil commitment. “It’s unfortunate, but that’s one of the reasons why we started Mental Health Court, to try to get people some help.”

“He’s being let down by the system,” said another attendee. They tried to explain some of Cox’s behavior, including homophobic insults and vandalism. “If he’s not competent to stand trial, then how is he competent to be out on the street?” Capt. Wilske said he would contact the Crisis Intervention Team to see if there’s anything they can do to help. Judge Kondo noted that no one can be forced to go through the Mental Health Court system, which can be a problem; she said she had relatives with mental-health challenges and knows that one problem is, “they start feeling good and stop taking their meds.”

Said an attendee, “Why should it be up to them to opt in or not? … When these mentally ill people are committing crimes and they’re escalating …”

The judge noted at one point, “If we held every mentally ill person in custody, the jails would be bursting at the seams.” She also said Western State Hospital “got so far behind in the last month or so … there was negotiations … they brought in a team of psychologists and did (so many) psychological evaluations in one day,” they got closer to catching up. Judge Kondo said most of those defendants are not a somewhat extreme case such as Cox.

Judge Kondo brought up a bill that came up in the State House this session, proposed by parents of a mentally ill man shot and killed by Seattle Police during a standoff on Capitol Hill, trying to make it easier for people like their son (and, having read the bill, we’d suggest, like Cox) to be committed. She suggested that people follow the bill’s progress. “It is really difficult to get somebody to acknowledge that they need help and … go into the system.”

She says that the Department of Justice process regarding Seattle Police also revealed that “police don’t really deal well” with mentally ill people, and it depends on what they are dealing with – manic-depressive, schizophrenic, bipolar disorder. They’re working on a training program to give police more tools to identify which cases can “go right into the Mental Health Court.”

While the discussion of Ryan Cox proceeded, we looked up his case in the Seattle Municipal Court system, discovered on the publicly viewable docket that a warrant was issued for his arrest two weeks ago, carrying a bail amount of $15,000. The notation described him as “not a good candidate for probation” and labeled him as “do not release.” It seemed important to bring it to the attention of those gathered during the meeting, so we did. They indicated they’d follow up as soon as they could – which they did, post-meeting – and the general discussion continued.

What age range does the Mental Health Court see? Judge Kondo was asked. 20s, 30s, 40s, she said, but cautioned that it’s not so much that those are the age ranges of mental illness, as the age ranges in which people tend to commit crimes.

What makes a mental-health patient a danger to themselves? Capt. Wilske noted, when they can’t take care of themselves.

“People in mental health crisis are not going to recognize that they need help,” Judge Kondo observed.

The crossover between substance abuse and mental illness came up as well – since people so often “self-medicate” with oft-abused drugs. Judge Kondo said the combination of marijuana and alcohol is increasing in collision reports.

Capt. Wilske said more officers are going to be trained in crisis intervention; Judge Kondo also brought up the subject of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill as a resource for families. She then revealed that her son is bipolar and has been hospitalized for his illness more than a few times. She said it has been time-consuming each time to get him stabilized, yet he has persevered with his goals in life, including getting a college degree in six years, though he currently, she says, is not able to work. “It’s difficult – you don’t get a lot of support … (and) there’s not a lot of resources,” she said, explaining she can empathize with families. He has been in jail and had clashes with police, she went on to explain. When he’s off his medication, she doesn’t even want him around. She said she asked not to even be involved with the Mental Health Court calendar until a year and a half ago because it would have been too emotional, given what had been going on with her son.

“I know from a parent point of view what it’s like to have to deal with this sort of situation,” she said, while also acknowledging it’s “frightening” as a property owner or citizen or someone else. “It’s a difficult situation and I know the police are doing the best they can.” She spoke of one of the SPD Crisis Intervention Team members who she wishes could be “cloned … so we could have 100 of him in the city.”

Then the topic turned yet again to Ryan Cox. A person with a restraining order against him after a skirmish talked about the victimization she felt going through that. Shouldn’t she be getting a call when he’s out? she asks. Judge Kondo says she has orders against people who have threatened to kill her and she doesn’t know where they are, either.

“Earlier you talked about identifying people (who could be serious trouble). It seems to me, John Q. Public, that Ryan Cox has been ID’d.”

But, Capt. Wilske explained, you still have to have some current behavior to deal with someone, to get them off the street, for example.

One of the other attendees, whose workplace has been vandalized by Cox, said that as she gets closer to work, she gets more nervous, all the time. She talked about dreading the thought that he is out there somewhere.

What’s needed to improve the Mental Health Court? WSCPC president Richard Miller asked Judge Kondo as the meeting came to an end.

More forensic psychologists, more access to treatment, more money, said Kondo, saying, “This is the first year in the budget for five years that (the MHC hasn’t been cut) … you can’t solve the problem with money but it certainly helps to get people a little more support.”

She also said that it would be helpful if “the public” could recognize signs of danger and mental illness sooner, to get help earlier. Right now, most serious problems manifest around 19 or 20, she said – “you need education, people need to recognize what they’re looking at, the difference between bipolar and schizophrenia and OCD, which is a different animal …”

Another attendee asked, do you turn people away when you run low on resources?

“We don’t do that, because we have really resourceful people … so far we’ve been able to meet the need,” said the judge, again stressing “it’s a volunteer program, people have to opt in.” And she stressed there are success stories, where people “graduate” from the program after two years’ jurisdiction and are sent on their way – “we give them as many positive strokes as we can … and hope it takes.”

“The stigma of mental illness has kept a lot of progress from happening,” the judge said, clearly with regret. “It doesn’t go away – there’s not a cure for mental illness – it can be managed. It’s a part of their life forever, and a part of yours.”

As Ryan Cox’s has been a part of the community for five years now, since he first came to West Seattle-wide (and beyond) attention in spring 2009 for a spree of homophobic graffiti vandalism. He wound up being arrested twice that year.

His most recent case was a guilty plea to assault, for spitting on and yelling slurs at a man, in December. He was released on New Year’s Eve.

Today, he appeared on the jail register just an hour ago. The Municipal Court website does not yet include information on a hearing or what’s next, but we’ll continue to follow up.

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Update: Meet new Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske at upcoming West Seattle meetings http://westseattleblog.com/2014/02/added-guest-for-next-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-meeting-new-southwest-precinct-commander-capt-steve-wilske/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/02/added-guest-for-next-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-meeting-new-southwest-precinct-commander-capt-steve-wilske/#comments Thu, 13 Feb 2014 05:50:38 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=264839 ORIGINAL REPORT, 9:50 PM: In our interview with newly appointed Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilskepublished here Monday – he said he planned to attend as many community meetings as possible in the weeks and months ahead to learn about our area. The West Seattle Crime Prevention Council has just announced that he will be at their meeting next Tuesday (February 18th). Their previously scheduled guest, Seattle Municipal Court Presiding Judge C. Kimi Kondo, remains on the agenda too, talking about the city’s Mental Health Court. All are welcome at Tuesday’s WSCPC meeting, 7 pm at the precinct (Delridge/Webster).

ADDED THURSDAY MORNING: Just received an agenda that says Capt. Wilske also will be at the February 19th Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting (7 pm, Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW).

ADDED FRIDAY: See comments below – he’ll be at this month’s West Seattle Block Watch Captains’ Network meeting too.

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West Seattle Crime Prevention Council, report #2: Changes at the top; Ryan Cox arrest; how Seattle Animal Shelter works… http://westseattleblog.com/2014/01/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-report-2-changes-at-the-top-ryan-cox-arrest-how-seattle-animal-shelter-works/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/01/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-report-2-changes-at-the-top-ryan-cox-arrest-how-seattle-animal-shelter-works/#comments Fri, 24 Jan 2014 02:20:07 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=262452 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

This month’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting began with the formal introduction of the Southwest Precinct‘s new leadership, and quickly moved on to a series of hot topics – including one citizen concern that already has led to action.

And until the citizen concerns were all spoken, the new precinct commander remained at the meeting with a larger accompanying contingent than is usually seen at the meetings – members of the Anti-Crime Team (ACT).

(Photo by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
“I’m Captain Davis, current Southwest Precinct commander.” Pierre Davis (at right in photo above) introduced himself for the first time since the two promotions reported here last week – his elevation from lieutenant, and previous commander Joe Kessler‘s promotion to assistant chief. He also introduced Lt. Ron Smith as the new operations lieutenant (second-in-command), and explained the black-uniformed ACT members filling the northwest corner of the room: “These are our bird-dogs, these are the individuals who go out and make things happen, they are our strike team, if you will.”

No current crime spikes, he said, and one particular category is half its usual rate – while burglaries run “10-12 a week” this time of year, “right now they’re at five or six.” He attributed that to the arrest of multiple suspects, which he described as “a crew that was just devastating our area.”

Then he asked for neighborhood concerns. First question was about last month’s High Point murder – we’ve already reported the reply, and questions about other unsolved murders, here.

Next, the community concern that seems to already have led to action: Ryan Cox is back in jail, for the third time in two months.

Two attendees asked Tuesday night about the status of Cox, the repeat offender who has been arrested in the past for incidents involving vandalism and assault. They told police that local businesses suspect him in repeat cases of vandalism and have video/photo proof, but hadn’t been able to reach a particular detective to come get it. “We are angry, we are frustrated, we are frightened …” Capt. Davis promised the Anti-Crime Team would get on the case immediately, and if there was cause to arrest him, it would happen.

And it did: The King County Jail Register shows Cox is in jail, arrested this afternoon on a warrant related to his most recent assault case. That case, first reported here December 18th, put him behind bars for two-thirds of the month of December. He was released on New Year’s Eve; ten days later, he was in jail again, on a warrant related to the same case. On January 13th, he was out again, and now, after another ten days, he’s back. He’s being held in lieu of $25,000 bail, and is scheduled for a hearing in city Mental Health Court tomorrow.

OTHER CONCERNS: A Highland Park resident said there are two trouble houses on his block – vacant/foreclosed and beset by squatters. Capt. Davis asked him to provide information privately later so it can be checked out. One other resident stood up simply to say she had a concern she wanted to talk to police about, and was also assured she could talk to them one-on-one after the meeting.

In summary: “We want to put the best foot forward in 2014 .. and make it a quiet 2014,” said Capt. Davis.

(One note – his role as precinct commander is not a permanent appointment, yet; much is still in flux at SPD.)

Next, the night’s featured guest:

SEATTLE ANIMAL SHELTER: Ann Graves, a West Seattle-born high-ranking manager in SAS – aka “animal control,” among other roles – explained how the agency’s role has evolved. “Our officers are now not just referred to as animal control officers, but also animal law enforcement officers – our officers, like police officers, are out there investigating crimes involving animals.” She said their number of incoming animals is decreasing, and the amount of resources they have to help animals – “animals that would have been put to sleep a few years ago; we have resources” to help them get better.

She manages the field services, with 12 officers and one supervisor covering 7 days a week, 10 hours a day (9 am-7 pm) – they pick up dead animals, either domestic or wildlife; they pick up stray animals; responses are “complaint-based,” so if you see something, say something. One officer per shift handles dispatching. Speaking of which: Would you call 911 to report an animal problem? she was asked. No – call 206-386-PETS unless it’s a life-threatening emergency, in which case, yes, call 911.

She mentioned increasing concerns about “dog-flipping.” Few acknowledged recognizing the term. She said that it involves people posting that they want to find a new home for their pet – somebody who sounds well-meaning takes it, and then turns around and posts it for sale. This can be a crime if the animal is procured under such false pretenses, Graves said – it would become property theft, and police would have to deal with it. Same if animal cruelty is involved – dog-flippers might amass a house full of animals, and that might constitute animal cruelty.

Some people are “stealing dogs right out of front yards,” said Graves. “So first thing you can do, don’t leave your dogs unattended.” In case your pet does get stolen – make sure you can prove you’re the owner (chip, licensing, etc.).”

Questions:

Why can’t officers just sweep in and seize an animal if it’s dangerous, being abused, etc.? Regarding investigations, she said, it takes a while, to find out what’s going on, compile evidence, prepare citations – they can’t just march in and take an animal away.

What kind of training do SAS officers get? There is a specific training academy, Graves said; she teaches the “sheltering” segment there every year, in fact. But an increasing amount of training is done online, with webinars, for example. Most of their officers “come with a vet-tech background,” so they have some animal-medicine background. But they also learn from police – how to write a report, for example.

She fielded questions such as “what about animals in grocery stores?” Graves suggested consulting the Office of Civil Rights explanation of service animals. “This was a ‘purse’ animal,” the person who asked the question clarified. But, anyone can say an animal is a service animal, and there are limits to what you can ask about it. Graves said, “It’s unfortunate to see (some people abuse that),” and yes, it’s “uncomfortable to see an animal walking around the vegetable aisle.”

“The animal menace in my neighborhood are raccoons and coyotes – do you handle that too?” an attendee asked. No, they don’t deal with nuisance wildlife, said Graves, repeating advice given by wildlife experts – please don’t feed pets outside, seal up holes in your basement and attic to keep them from nesting indoors, and check out the “co-existing with wildlife” information available from the state. It is not illegal to set a humane trap for nuisance wildlife on your property, Graves said, but once you trap it, you either have to set it free on your own property or you need to kill it. The problem with just killing nuisance wildlife is that they will be replaced – unless you solve the root problem that’s attracting them.

How about dog waste on your property? If you identify whose animal it is and can tell Animal Control about that, they can go to the house and talk to the owner. She also mentioned that you are required to clean up your own property at least once every 24 hours – so if you have a neighbor who doesn’t clean up, you can report them, not just violating the scoop law, but also for possible animal cruelty. How about people who throw their dog waste in your trash? Graves acknowledges that’s frustrating. “There’s not a simple solution.”

(At that point, Operations Lt. Smith said that vicious-dog calls have gone down dramatically in recent years in West Seattle.)

if you are filing a complaint about someone you saw violate the leash law, you have to sign that you will testify under penalty of perjury “sometimes people are not comfortable with that – I can’t issue a ticket for something you saw that I didn’t see without that statement.”

Speaking of which – what are the penalties for that and other violations? Graves was asked. A few samples:

*Leash law in a neighborhood – $54
*Dog bite, broken skin – $269
*If not vaccinated for rabies, $54 more

She declared she had “had a lot of fun” speaking to the group. Find out more about the Seattle Animal Shelter at seattleanimalshelter.org.

The West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meets most months on the third Tuesday, 7 pm, Southwest Precinct.

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Video: Crime trends, transportation safety @ West Seattle Crime Prevention Council http://westseattleblog.com/2013/11/video-crime-trends-transportation-safety-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/11/video-crime-trends-transportation-safety-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council/#comments Wed, 20 Nov 2013 07:04:32 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=256644

Tonight’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting featured crime-trend updates from Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Pierre Davis and transportation-safety info from SDOT’s Jim Curtin (who started speaking about 26 minutes into our video). We’ll add toplines later but just in case you’re interested, we recorded the entire hour and a half meeting on video and it’s just finished uploading, so we present it here for your potential late-night/early-morning viewing. More later!

ADDED 9:40 AM WEDNESDAY: Toplines from WSB’s Katie Meyer:

*From SDOT community traffic liaison Jim Curtin’s presentation – the top spots in West Seattle for collisions, October 2010-October 2013:

1) Olson Place SW and 1st (aka, east end of Roxbury)
2) 35th/Avalon (that includes collisions near the bridge entrance)
3) 8th SW and SW Roxbury

Major causes of collisions:

33% caused by speeding
48& of fatal crashes involve impaired drivers (alcohol or drugs – no increase in marijuana so far)
22% of fatal crashes involve distraction

Most common type of collision in West Seattle:
“Hit parked cars” (1,150 hit parked car hit “incidents “in the three-year time period Curtin covered – some are multiple-vehicle incidents, so higher total of hit parked car numbers).

CRIME TRENDS: Lt. Davis stressed both the importance of reporting crime AND suspicious sightings – “partnership with the community” – and of prevention. People are still, he lamented, leaving keys in cars, leaving home doors unlocked, etc. Also, he warned, mail and package theft ramp up this time of year (for obvious reasons), and he reiterated something noted last month, that West Seattle will have holiday-season emphasis patrols, with officers out on foot beats. Traffic emphasis patrols will be “highly visible” in the months ahead, too.

NEXT MEETING: WSCPC is taking December off; at 7 pm January 21st, Ann Graves from Seattle Animal Shelter will be on hand to discuss various animal-control issues.

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West Seattle Crime Prevention Council: Drug Diversion Court spotlighted; holiday crimefighting plans http://westseattleblog.com/2013/10/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-drug-diversion-court-spotlighted-holiday-crimefighting-plans/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/10/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-drug-diversion-court-spotlighted-holiday-crimefighting-plans/#comments Thu, 17 Oct 2013 18:20:16 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=252888 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Seattle Police plan a crackdown on holiday crime, with the help of an extra overtime allotment.

So reported Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Pierre Davis during his briefing at the start of this month’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting.

In addition to Q/A with Lt. Davis, the meeting included an SPD narcotics detective and King County Drug Diversion Court manager explaining how that program works to try to stop the cycle of crime by addicts who are in and out of court and jail as they just keep stealing to pay for their habit.

First, the holiday-crime crackdown. “Lots of foot beats for the holidays” in potential trouble spots – The Junction, Westwood Village, etc. – said Lt. Davis, elaborating on something he and precinct commander Capt. Joe Kessler had brought up when briefing the Alki Community Council last month – the allocation of more overtime so they can use it for patrols – money he said “we’re hoping to stretch out to the end of the year, for as much crime-deterrent visibility as possible.

As for overall current crime trends – no new revelations. Lt. Davis once again hammered on the theme of encouraging community members to report anything and everything in hopes of getting crooks off the street, considering that, as he put it: “They strike when the opportunity is golden, and sometimes the opportunity is grand.” He also exhorted community members to report ALL crimes (all the way down to car prowls in which nothing was taken) – he says police still believe some are not being reported. So call 911, and don’t be daunted by dispatchers’ pointed questions as they do their job – be ready with as much suspect information (if applicable) as you can offer. “We really do need to get that information out there.” He stressed repeatedly, if you don’t tell police about trouble spots, they don’t know, so: “If you see something, say something.”

The burglary and car prowl trends go up and down; “auto theft, same thing,” said Lt. Davis, “all depends on who’s in and who’s out of jail – often we catch the (suspects) but it’s very very difficult for us to keep them in jail,” the way the justice system works (or doesn’t). “We’re working very hard to get them the type of time they truly deserve.” With juvenile suspects, he said, it’s tougher to keep them in – they’re not held for very long, under current laws. (The most recent SPD crime stats are for August – we published a brief breakdown/comparison here.)

Disappointment in the justice system also came up during this meeting’s Q/A, which also touched on issues ranging from response times to crashes (if they’re not major, it depends on what else officers have on their plate at the time), to the rationale behind school-zone cameras and other zones’ radar-camera signboards, both of which Lt. Davis defended as life-savers.

Also from Q/A: No new information on the 28th/Roxbury assault reported here on Monday night, said Lt. Davis, nor on the stabbings in the Westwood Village area, nor on the West Marginal crash death over the weekend.

And he wrapped up with a reminder about Drug Takeback Day at the precinct on October 26th.

Speaking of drugs …

Det. David Doucett, a narcotics detective with SPD and veteran law enforcer, was one of the featured guests focusing on the King County Drug Diversion Court. He went into background of how it came to be – addicts would get arrested, no treatment, would get back out, get back to using, and then get back to crime to pay for their habit, and the cycle would resume.

Then in 1994, then-King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, hailed by Det. Doucett as “visionary,” created the county’s Drug Diversion Court. “Instead of completing this cycle, we would try to intervene with treatment.” That would require some incentive, to say the least – such as, you go to prison for five to 10 years, or accept treatment.

He went into some of how it works – those who slip up in the program go into jail for a while “to get a taste of what they would be facing otherwise”; the program also offers tools to help the addict, for example, methadone for heroin addicts. There’s also required urinalysis, for example. If participants don’t show up for court hearings or other requirements – “I’m going to find you – and I’m really, really good at finding people” – he gave one example, of someone he had to go up to Oak Harbor to find (but he did find them).

In a current case, he said, he’s working to make sure that one person’s “gang membership doesn’t get in the way of his treatment.”

Do you go after the dealers, too? the detective was asked. Right now, in fact, he said, that’s the focus of what they are doing. “The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office says in order to get into Drug Court, you either have to have a high number of (arrest/conviction) points or 3 to 6 grams of drugs.”

For more about how it works once a defendant is in the system, Tom Essex from Drug Diversion Court picked up the presentation.

An opiate addict needs a “fix” every four to six hours, for example, he explained. And that’s why they are such prolific thieves – they have to get money and go get more drugs. And that’s why treatment can reduce crime. “These guys are constantly figuring out how they’re going to feed their habit.”

“Drug courts do work – I’m not going to give you a bunch of statistics ’cause you can look that up yourself,” he said. But candidates have to have no violence or sex-offender crimes in their history, he noted. It means a minimum 10-month commitment. The urine samples are twice a week, observed, and administered randomly.

Drug Court has two hearing times daily – about 20 people in the morning, 20 in the afternoon. “We use Drug Court as theater,” he explained. And they have to have a conversation with the defendant about how it’s going. It’s not “hug a thug,” he said – it’s people agreeing that they are guilty and waiving their right to a jury trial because if they make it through the program, the felony charge will be dismissed; if they don’t, they’re off straight to prison.

He explained the expectations – tell the truth (“difficult for addicts, but they CAN do it”), for example, show up for the urinalysis, etc., and if there is a mistake, they get put behind bars for one to three days (short enough to keep them from getting comfortable.

The ten months (minimum) are broken into three phases. They have rewards for participants who are doing well – show up, full compliance – they get to the head of the line at court check-ins, even coffee cards.

He offered volumes of information – including how they can detect if somebody is trying to cheat on their urine tests (from temperature to levels of certain non-drug substances), how there’s a “chain of custody” for samples, how offenders are observed when they give samples, etc. And he acknowledges there are “tons of drugs in jail.”

The two types of people who don’t do well with Drug Court are people with traumatic brain injury and paranoid schizophrenics, Essex said – it’s just too rigorous. “Other than that, we actually look for the biggest and baddest – we screen everybody coming into the program for criminogenic risk and prognostic need.”

Essex also discussed some of the drugs used for addicts – from methadone to Narcan (which “peels off all the opiate receptors and puts them into immediate withdrawal”) to Antabuse.

The immediate goal: Become clean and sober. “As they progress in the program, we start raising our expectations – the longer they’re in the program, the more we expect of them.”

Do you think it’s working? Det. Doucett was asked. His reply: Yes.

The next West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting on November 19th will focus on traffic/transportation safety with Jim Curtin from SDOT.

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