West Seattle Crime Prevention Council: New faces, new crime stats

If you think it’s been quieter lately on the crime front – in some categories of crime, yes, it has. After outgoing Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Steve Paulsen (right) passed the torch to his successor Lt. Norm James (explanation in our January 8th report) at last night’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting, Lt. James ran down the state of the stats on the peninsula – noting that several categories of West Seattle crime are down. Also at the WSCPC meeting, other new faces in West Seattle crimefighting were introduced, officers/executive committee members were elected, and a Traffic Unit rep talked about red-light cams – all ahead:

WHAT’S UP: Nonresidential burglaries, significantly, so special high-visibility patrols are under way. Residential burglaries were “up slightly,” but Lt. James says up to a fourth of them were believed to be the work of just three suspects who’ve been arrested, thanks to alert citizens. He says the same three, who were from High Point, may also have been linked to a wave of auto thefts in that area. Strong-arm robberies – that’s where the robbers aren’t necessarily armed, but assault or threaten the victim – are “up a little.” They tend to happen around bus stops, Lt. James said, adding that Anti-Crime Teams (ACT) are out trying to fight the trend. Also up, aggravated assaults, which tend to spike around the holidays, he said – “people are getting into arguments, more parties, etc.”

WHAT’S DOWN: Car prowls – “significantly.” Armed robberies, too. And graffiti – particularly since the arrest of Ryan Cox, the suspect in the wave of vandalism that largely involved repeated incidences of a three-word homophobic slur. (He’s due in court today for a hearing to determine if he’s competent to stand trial, by the way; the hearing’s been postponed a few times in the past week, but whenever it finally happens, we’ll report back on the results.)

WHO’S NEW: Besides Lt. James in the Operations role, Officer Jill Vanskike is now on the Community Police Team (Officer Ken Mazzuca has deployed to the Middle East). She will handle the South Park area (Frank 3 sector), joining Acting Sgt. Adonis Topacio (in the William sectors, mostly west WS) and Officer Kevin McDaniel in the Frank 1 and 2 sectors (mostly east West Seattle). Officer Vanskike is not really “new” – she’s been with the department 14 years. New City Attorney’s Office precinct liaison John “Mac” McGoodwin also was introduced; in an update from our original report, he now expects to be at the SW Precinct a “couple days a week.”

SPD TRAFFIC TALK: A rep from SPD’s Traffic Unit was there mostly to discuss red-light cameras. And he offered some eye-opening numbers: The two in West Seattle (35th and Thistle, 35th and Avalon), each produced about 1,200 tickets in the past year; the usual ticket is $124. They first go to the vendor, American Traffic Solutions, but then to a review by the SPD person in charge of the program. The cameras take moving video and still photos, and if you’re “caught,” you should get your ticket within a week and a half. Right now there are 28 red-light cameras citywide, and two more are planned, though SPD isn’t sure yet where. Money from the tickets does NOT all go to SPD – most of it goes into the general fund. The neighborhood speed monitoring program also was mentioned – if you have a problem, there are radar guns you can borrow! (Here’s where to go to find out more.)

“ANYBODY ELSE WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT?” A resident from Fairmount Springs talked about troubles the neighborhood has had with a repeat offender, neighbors sharing information about him on their e-mail list, and wondered if there’s “anybody else we should know about.” A/Sgt. Topacio said that while the offender in question “is always on our radar,” rather than focusing just specifically on certain people, concerned neighbors should watch out for signs of suspicious activity, and call 911 when it’s detected; follow up with your Community Police Team officer if warranted.

LT. PAULSEN’S PARTING WORDS: As mentioned earlier, this was Lt. Steve Paulsen’s last Crime Prevention Council meeting; in a little over a month, he is scheduled to transfer to the West Precinct downtown. But first, he had this to say: “October, November, December were nutty months -” (it was quickly clear he was referring to the incidents that left the Puget Sound law-enforcement community shellshocked, with six officers murdered in less than 3 months) “–but the support from the community has meant a lot. The captain said to tell the community thanks, you got us through the bad times. From everybody in the precinct, they wanted to say thank you to you all.”

OFFICER/EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE ELECTIONS: None of the positions were contested; the election results were Dot Beard re-elected as president, Richard Miller taking over as vice president (Kay Newton didn’t run for re-election), Betty Wiberg re-elected as secretary, Shell Marr, Shane Marr and Larry Ruda elected to the executive committee.

The West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meets on the third Tuesday of the month, 7 pm, meeting room at the Southwest Precinct.

8 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Prevention Council: New faces, new crime stats"

  • ground hog nulu January 20, 2010 (9:03 am)

    What ever happened to the “Who, What, When, Where and Why” of Journalism 101?
    I can find no mention of how many ordinary citizens attended this meeting. In my experience, few people besides those with special interests or related jobs attend. Eliminate those and who is left?
    Beyond that, these meetings are pure theater, a Kabuki ritual…
    SPD, as usual, is happy to claim that crime is slightly increasing but the “good news” is that they have caught the “bad guys” who have been doing most of the crimes…just like last night.
    SPD and CA people are playing musical chairs in the Southwest at the expense of our community.
    What questions did WSB ask?
    There is no hard news presence with WSB exchanging non-critical coverage perhaps in exchange for cozy relations with the Public Info Officers, just keeping the pipeline open by not asking any tough questions or doing any follow-ups.
    I have attended these meetings with truly pathetic results. If you come in hopes of addressing real concerns over policing and crime, you will be outnumbered and even shouted down by those accustomed to their roles.
    The SPD officials tell you that your concern will take up too much meeting time and to met them after the meeting. The meeting then closes 15 minutes early after a few rounds of platitudes. The SPD official had disappeared and everyone went home until the next meeting.
    Tracy was there. No report. No follow-up.
    Why bother?

  • WSB January 20, 2010 (9:08 am)

    About 30 people were at last night’s meeting, including 6 SPD and the new city-attorney liaison.

  • ground hog nulu January 20, 2010 (9:42 am)

    Give us the total and let us do the math!
    WSB writes of only one “resident” speaking up.
    Was this resident the only one present?
    How many such residents (non affiliated citizens, as in not West Seattle Crime Prevention Council officials) spoke?
    Were any other “news organizations” present?
    Did anyone ask a question?

  • mike January 20, 2010 (10:28 am)

    Tracy/WSB thankyou for reporting what happens at these meetings.

  • d January 20, 2010 (10:47 am)

    To the Point Nulu –

    Consider the possibility that perhaps you were not persistent enough at the meeting; that YOUR courage of conviction wavered in the face of the status quo present at the meetings you attended. You have never struck me, in only knowing of you as a pithy, direct WSB foil and commenter, to be shy or sensitive to being oppositional.
    So, go back to the meetings and push harder,
    perhaps, at the staleness of attenders, who after
    YEARS of functioning in a overlooked or relatively closed system, need assistance against the inertia of so long spent thinking inside the

    They might be offended and misunderstand the intent as personal offronts, but if you are firm in your conviction, you just might foster change.

    I say this because I have attended the meetings and upset people who appear to be protective of each other after so many years. These are people of good intent. Go show them solutions, if you have them to offer. I found that they ultimately responded to that when persistently addressed.

    Relying on WSB for everything is lame, in my book.

  • GreenSpaces January 20, 2010 (6:24 pm)

    I am sensitive because I live in High Point, and the police officers when in our neighborhood say to our faces we deserve what we get because we moved to High Point. I certainly hope this was written in the spirit of being able to drop in Alki, Admiral, or Fauntlee Hills when writing “…He says the same three, who were from High Point, may also have been linked to a wave of auto thefts in that area.” I don’t know if it is important to the story to point out what neighborhood these people supposedly live in. I hate the stereotyping that continues 6 years after the dozers went through here and 3 years after half of the neighborhood became home owners while half of the neighborhood is renters. LIke I said, I am sensitive.

    • WSB January 20, 2010 (6:33 pm)

      In this case, for whatever reason, Lt. James made a point of saying that there had also been a wave of car thefts in HP and that’s where the suspects were from. The two bits of information did not seem separable – if he had said there’d been a wave of car thefts in HP and he thought these three were linked to it, but we omitted the explanation given as to why he thought that, it wouldn’t have made much sense. I have not been able to reach him today for a followup question about exactly which incident was involved in this arrest – some of what was said sounded like one we had reported here a few weeks back, but I did not want to guess without being able to confirm – TR

  • Dave Gould January 23, 2010 (3:44 pm)

    Do the Police need volunteers at the Precinct Station?

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