As-it-happened: Crime/safety Q/A with police in Fauntleroy

September 26, 2013 7:15 pm
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 |   Crime | Fauntleroy | Safety | West Seattle news

7:14 PM: We’re at The Hall at Fauntleroy, where about 50 people have gathered for the crime/safety/prevention meeting presented by the Fauntleroy Community Association. In addition to FCA leaders and neighbors, Capt. Joe Kessler (in the top photo), Lt. Pierre Davis, and Community Police Team Officer Jon Flores from the Southwest Precinct are here and will be speaking (and answering questions) shortly, and the West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network is here too. We’ll publish live toplines as news/information of note emerges. It’s not just for Fauntleroy residents – so if you’re interested, come on over to 9131 California SW (in the historic schoolhouse).

7:26 PM: Capt. Kessler is getting to the stats, after going through the SW Precinct org chart. He says 61 burglaries is the monthly average. Last month, one week had 39 burglaries, as widely reported, but the following week, he noted, there were 11 – and that’s because of one arrest. He mentions a recent arrest – “we targeted him and we finally got him.” And he notes that “almost half of the burglars we arrest are a direct result of calling 911. When we say, ‘call 911 if you see something suspicious,’ we really do mean it. … Nothing makes us feel better at night than putting a couple burglars in jail.” Lt. Davis took up the presentation from there, with a slide showing that the yearlong average of car prowls is 45 a month, and another one showing an average of 8 street robberies a month over the past year.

7:38 PM: In Fauntleroy, over the past year, the most common police calls were:


Suspicious circumstances/person – 162
Premise check/crime prevention – 148
Traffic/parking violation – 137
Elementary-school visit – 133
Suspicious circumstances/vehicle – 88
Theft/car prowl – 77
False alarm – 69
Traffic, moving violation – 68
Traffic, accident investigation – 65
Disturbance, other – 60
Assist Public – 56
Noise disturbance – 42
Residential alarm – 36
Residential unoccupied burglary – 35
Auto theft – 30
Domesti disturbance/violence – 30
Mischief or nuisance – 30
Premise check/request to watch – 24
Property destruction – 23
Mental complaint – 23

Also: 37 percent of all Fauntleroy calls were in, or within a block of, Lincoln Park. Police are here often because of traffic/parking enforcement and “premise checks.” Three of the four “street robberies” in Fauntleroy in the past year happened in Lincoln Park.

Two requests for the community from police – “make sure we know what’s important, what we’re not hitting, if neighborhood dynamics are changing,” get a hold of them, either directly, or through their community-group reps. Capt. Kessler also pitched residents to take advantage of the chance to set up a living-room conversation (read about them here; we covered one a year and a half ago in Arbor Heights).

7:45 PM: The top crimefighting priorities for Southwest Precinct:

*Residential burglaries
*Auto thefts
*Car prowls
*Street robberies

Capt. Kessler said the street-robbery suspects arrested recently might have been responsible for up to 50 robberies. In terms of crime-fighting tactics, along with the recently implemented Predictive Policing, he mentioned a visibility strategy, saying that more traffic enforcement plays into that – if police are visibly around, whatever they’re doing, criminals will be less likely to become active.

7:55 PM UPDATE: Q/A continues with common-sense advice – such as, look at a situation and “think like the bad guy.” Simple things – if you go outside, don’t leave your door unlocked and out of sight. What’s a deterrent? asks one attendee. Big dogs, alarms, alarm stickers – they CAN cause a crook to think twice. But also keep in mind, Capt. Kessler said, the “one-person crime wave” professional burglars out there don’t want to get caught – so if it looks like what you have is for real, they just might think twice.

Other questions – If you have a surveillance camera, should you put up a sign saying you have one? No. Is it really appropriate to call 911 when it’s not an emergency? “When in doubt, call 911.” And if you get treated really badly, you can report it to the captain and he’ll talk to them. Same if you are “unhappy with the service our officers provide … call me or Pierre,” he said.

What if you think you hear gunshots? Yes, you can call 911.

What’s the safest time to be in Lincoln Park? Overall, it’s really safe, he noted.

Somehow the talk even turned to police horses – Capt. Kessler said he used to lead the Mounted Patrol – and their waste; they have a special feed and there’s no environmental damage if rainwater carries it into waterways, he declared.

CPT Officer Flores then took a turn; he noted that Fauntleroy is in his area of emphasis. He also recommended using the city maps for 911 calls and police reports.

Wrapping up his remarks, Capt. Kessler promised “we’ll never lie to you” and “we make it a point never to overpromise,” and said “it really is about a partnership of working together.”

8:21 PM: The meeting is now hearing from Melissa Chin, the precinct’s liaison from the City Attorney’s Office, talking about nuisance properties – a chronic nuisance property is one with at least 7 complaints in a year, at least 3 in two months. She’s responding to an attendee’s concerns about a specific Fauntleroy residence. She says 911 calls are vital because that’s how she accumulates evidence. Another audience member stressed just how much of a nightmare it can be when there is a nuisance property in your neighborhood – not just knowing they’re there, but also what people associated with the house can do to you or your neighbors, like metal theft and other problems. Chin said that if the official channels don’t go far enough, a neighborhood can join forces – like the 36th/Morgan neighborhood did – and threaten or actually file a civil lawsuit.

The next question was about noise from motorcycles rolling off the state ferries in the morning. Traffic enforcement can help, as Capt. Kessler emphasized, recalling his days as the head of the Traffic division. That is the best division to work on it, but it requires OT, he noted, since they usually have roll-call no earlier than 6:30 am, and to catch up with the ferries, they’d have to start earlier. But he said he’d see what he could arrange.

8:34 PM: Meeting’s over; FCA usually meets on second Tuesdays, 7 pm in the board room at the schoolhouse,

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