By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Karen Berge and Deb Greer told attendees at last night’s WSBWCN meeting that they’re ceasing monthly meetings. Over all these years, there have been some memorable meetings – touring a local home with an SPD officer explaining Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design – and even some tumultuous moments, like the protester-disrupted 2015 forum with then-Chief Kathleen O’Toole. But there also have been lightly attended meetings with well-trod topics, such as yet another explanation of how 911 works.
And it’s not just about the meetings themselves.
Back when they started WSBWCN, it was an important educational/community-connection channel; SPD had only two Crime Prevention Coordinators for the whole city. Now the Southwest Precinct has its own coordinator (Jennifer Danner) and helping people set up Block Watches is part of her job. (Paying job, we might add – Greer and Berge have done this as volunteers all these years, down to making/bringing coffee – regular and decaf – and treats for the meetings, boothing at festivals, and more.)
This was the last scheduled WSBWCN meeting of the year anyway, since the fourth-Thursday dates don’t work well in November and December.They’re not sure what they’ll do next year. Maybe quarterly meetings? Maybe on Saturday mornings? Maybe special events like the appreciation celebration they had in 2012? Berge recalled a meeting years ago in which a precinct detective brought a criminal to talk with participants and they got an insight into the mindset which could “inform how we responded to that to make our neighborhoods safer,” she noted. Basically, if they’re going to gather people, they want to “try to take it to a level where we can deal with some of the (non-routine) stuff” – education about new topics, challenges, “help fill in the gaps on that knowledge.”
Q&A after that announcement included, how many Block Watches are there in West Seattle? They’re not sure how many but have 300+ people on a mailing list, 200+ on a social-media group. Several attendees expressed regret at the loss of a monthly chance to talk with police and each other, but the reality is that few have used that opportunity, so “use it or lose it” applies. Same goes for the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council, which has been meeting one week before WSBWCN. A few attendees suggested the two could be combined. Or, could organizing WSBWCN program and meetings become somebody else’s job rather than Greer and Berge continuing to do it alone? They heard lots of ideas – but nobody committing immediately to pitch in. Got a thought about the WSBWCN future? You can reach Greer and Berge at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also at the meeting:
POLICE UPDATE: Capt. Pierre Davis said they’re gearing up for fall/winter, with emphasis patrols to address property crime. Overall, West Seattle/South Park crime is still down overall, 7 percent year to year, the precinct commander said. The emphasis patrols will range from foot beats to plainclothes, and will include Westwood Village and The Junction. Asked about this year’s budget, Capt. Davis said he’d love to have more police. Right now the precinct has about 60 street officers. The staffing situation is starting to improve a bit, he said – “we’re climbing out of a bit of a hole” – but it’s still being compounded by retirements.
COMMUNITY ISSUES: One burglary was mentioned (during the daytime, which is the most-common time), with a safe among the things stolen … Another attendee brought up the gas theft via tank drilling (like this).
REMINDERS: This year’s Public Safety Survey is now open … Drug Take-Back Day is Saturday (October 26th), 10 am-2 pm.
Watch wsblockwatchnet.wordpress.com – and of course WSB – for news of any future West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network events.