A wide-ranging discussion at this month’s West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network meeting. Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Ron Smith presented SPD information in place of precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis, who was unable to be there. He had an announcement, too. But first:
CRIME STATS: Crimes against persons have “calmed down drastically,” down 9 percent from a year earlier – that category includes violent incidents from assault to robbery to homicide. Crimes against property are up 1 percent but some categories are spiking:
Residential burglary is up; commercial burglary is up too. That’s year-to-year, while currently it’s trending down. Larceny/theft is down 27 percent, and Lt. Smith said the Westwood Village emphasis patrols probably have a lot to do with that. Auto theft is still up in a big way – cars are being stolen in Renton and Burien and dumped here, Smith said; recently, a “prolific offender” was arrested in a stolen vehicle in Alki.
In a separate case, without initially naming the defendant, Lt. Smith also mentioned Bryan Tiedeman (who is back out of jail since our most-recent update). Shortly thereafter, a resident in the south Lincoln Park area whose neighborhood has been dealing with him for six years arrived at the meeting, and had kudos for precinct liaison lawyer Joe Everett, who helped neighbors get in touch with the county prosecutor handling the case, after a discussion at a WSBWCN meeting earlier this year. The neighbor also mentioned signing up for notifications with the VINE system regarding a change in the custody status of an offender – which everyone on the block has done. (You can do that via the King County Jail Register listing of a suspect, for example.) The neighbor also discussed agitating with Seattle City Light to get a streetlight so that license plates are more visible when suspicion-evoking vehicles show up in the neighborhood.
That discussion was followed by group agreement on the benefits of block watches.
ALKI SUMMER EMPHASIS: That’s on again, Lt. Smith said, now that summer is just about here. Lt. Steve Strand explained later that a lot of the emphasis patrol will be traffic-related. Something to watch for this weekend – a group of “high-end sports cars” (the Zwing Rally) plans a cruise on Alki Point on Saturday. (We wrote about this right after the meeting.)
RV’S AND OTHER HOMELESSNESS-RELATED ISSUES: There are fewer on Harbor Avenue (we counted eight today, down from a high of 18 not long ago) because some have been impounded, Smith said in response to an attendee’s question. The policy now is a 72-hour sticker (in reference to the city’s maximum time allowed for street parking), and if it hasn’t moved, it gets a 24-hour impound warning. “So basically you have four days of parking before we can do an impound.” One attendee wondered how to report an RV of concern in the Westwood area; Community Police Team Officer Todd Wiebke remains the point person for RVs. Discussion ensued regarding encampments; Lt. Smith said that to remove even one camper, members of the SPD Navigation Team – which is not based at the precinct – have to be involved.
SPD TRANSITION: Lt. Strand (above right) will be succeeding Lt. Smith (above left) as operations lieutenant when Smith retires at the end of next month. That highly visible position is #2 in command at the precinct; as part of his many duties, Lt. Smith has attended countless community meetings, many outside the precinct, to provide crime updates and answer questions. Strand is currently in charge of second watch (swing shift).
NEXT MEETING: WSBWCN meets fourth Tuesdays (6:30 pm, SW Precinct); next month will be the last meeting before summer hiatus.