By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
If you have a crime/safety trouble spot to surface to local police, the monthly West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting is the place. Just a handful of community members showed up tonight. Here’s what they heard, and said:
CAPTAIN’S UPDATE: Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis gave the “2018 synopsis” including a reduction in crimes against people, but a small increase in property crime – +2.8% – that would have been worse if not for stepped-up action. As he does at every WSCPC meeting, he pleaded for community members to “help us help you,” including by not leaving items in cars, reporting everything that does happen, and surfacing “ongoing issues.”
UPDATE ON HAMILTON VIEWPOINT ASSAULT: Capt. Davis was asked about the assault we reported last Saturday at the North Admiral park. It wasn’t a random attack, he said, but instead was an altercation with a “specific story line” and the person who wound up with a “bump on his head” had been “drinking heavily.” No arrest reported.
OTHER PARKS: Capt. Davis said SPD is working on increased enforcement – traffic, intoxication, etc. – at beaches and other parks for the warm months again this year.
COMMUNITY CONCERNS: First to speak up, a resident of the 6300 block of Beach Drive SW said he wants to see “speed control” on his street, describing a “hazardous situation” with the lack of signage and recent removal of the speed humps. … A resident of North Delridge’s Cottage Grove neighborhood brought up ongoing public drinking near DESC’s Cottage Grove Commons housing complex that’s “not healthy for my community … I’m sorry they’re in a bad situation” but he says DESC is not taking action to be a good neighbor. He also says there’s heroin use in the alley behind his nearby house, and illegal activity in the alley by Delridge Library. (Earlier today, Councilmember Lisa Herbold sent word that Seattle City Light plans to install lighting in that alley.) The same resident also voiced concern about jaywalkers. … A spinoff discussion ensued regarding how 911 calltakers ask questions about descriptions – yes, they ask about “race,” but the more simple and factual the better (light skinned, dark skinned, whatever you can tell them). Another attendee says he has long since learned “don’t fight with 911” – answer their questions and then there’s time for discussion afterward; keep in mind they’re getting information out to officers even as your call continues. … WSCPC president Richard Miller mentioned hearing from Westwood Village businesses about increased shoplifting there, and Capt. Davis said they’re doing what they can, but stores have to help themselves too – “lock up your liquor,” for example. “Do something that’s going to help us help you.” They do respond to calls about shoplifting. … Also in response to a side discussion, the importance of reporting incidents to police was stressed, both by police and an attendee – Capt. Davis said it’s a peeve of his when they get complaints or concerns about crimes that were never reported to them. Don’t just post about crimes on membership-required social media – police cannot see those posts (they CAN see posts on WSB, though that’s still not a substitute for filing an official report).
Now, the featured topic:
EXTREME RISK PROTECTION ORDERS: City attorney’s office precinct liaison Joe Everett said these orders are “specifically geared toward protecting gun violence and gun deaths.” Washington voters approved I-1491 in 2016, making ERPOs possible (here’s the resulting state law); ~10 other states have similar laws. Domestic violence, people in extreme crisis, those who’ve committed hate crimes or espoused “extremist views,” school threats – if anybody in those situations has access to firearms, they could be the subject of a civil order to keep guns out of their hands. Law enforcers and families “needed tools to temporarily suspend firearms access for at-risk individuals during periods of crisis,” Everett explained. An ERPO “allows removal of firearms without having to arrest, seek civil commitment, or separate (the order subject) from family or home.”
How does it work? Family members or law enforcers go to court and “seek an order that allows police to remove guns from the individual’s home, prohibit access to, and prohibit purchase of firearms. … The person seeking the order must first fill out a court form providing evidence of danger to others or self, then the court holds an expedited hearing” followed within two weeks by a permanent hearing. If granted, the order would be in effect for up to one year. When the order is served, the “respondent has to immediately surrender firearms” and if applicable their concealed pistol license. This is not the same as a no-contact-type order, it does not prohibit contact or put other personal restraints on the order subject.
Warning signs that need to be present when this kind of order is considered include violence toward others, self-harm, prior domestic-violence incidents, drug/alcohol abuse, change in behavior, prior protective orders, recently acquired guns or fixation with guns. The petition for an order has to be filed in either the county where the petitioner or the respondent lives, and can be filed in Municipal, District, or Superior Court, though ultimately it will be heard in the latter, so start there if you can. (P.S. If you knowingly file a false petition, it’s a gross misdemeanor and you can be fined/jailed.)
Some stats from last year:
-65 filed ERPOs in 2018
-188 firearms recovered by law enforcement
-All ex-parte orders were granted
-Five order requests were subsequently denied at full hearing
-5 search warrants resulted in 39 guns recovered
Sample cases included:
-Respondent had a domestic-violence history with ex-wife, no convictions, posted online videos with threats to shoot or blow up her apartment building after being served with an eviction notice, had military explosives training
-18-year-old brought a loaded gun to school
-Elderly respondent with dementia made suicidal statements, refused to surrender firearms (26 found).
Want to know more? www.protectionorder.org
Need info? ERPO@kingcounty.gov
The West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meets third Tuesdays most months, 7 pm at the Southwest Precinct – next meeting February 19th.