Posts tagged: cops
The meeting is wrapping up and Mayor Verner summarized it this way: “Rest assured that we recognize and value this little corner of the city. What I’m hearing is for you to report, report, report and then have faith that we are listening. It’s not CSI, it’s honest to goodness police work so it’s going to take a little while. Be patient. And report it again if it happens again.”
The Spokane Police Department’s Aim Report - which shows what the police department is aiming at - are available from the police department’s website www.spokanepolice.org
Several business owners are upset with how and when media refer to Hillyard. One person said that when something good happens in Hillyard, the area is referred to as “Northeast Hillyard” - but when something bad happens, like the recent shooting at the Special K Bar (on Garland and Market) it’s referred to as “Hillyard” - an argument could be made that the Special K is not in Hillyard.
Part of the business owners’ frustration is that they say they have worked hard on changing Hillyard’s reputation and as long as crime continues to be a problem, they say, it is really hard to keep the good PR going.
Major Stevens explains that SPD has a ‘repeat offender program’ and for the people who end up on that list “It’s kind’a like being on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. We notice that these people pop up and pop up and pop up - and we make an effort to catch those people.” You want to catch them, you don’t want to move them to another spot (this is repeated by several SPD officers).
Someone suggests a citizens police academy similar to one in King County. The Spokane citizens police academy was eliminated due to budget cuts about two years ago. The academy in Spokane was more informational, where the one in King County gives citizens an opportunity to ride along with officers and be more hands on.
One business owner talks about confronting two intruders on his property, cutting up steel and trying to steal his “stuff” out of a yard. This happened last night. He says he “kicked the guy’s” behind, because he ended up in a wrestling match with the intruders. He says he has a right to bear arms and confront people on his property, but he is tired of getting ripped off. (This business owner did eventually call 911 and file a report).
SPD response: a burglary in progress is “nirvana” for cops because they want to come and help people - so call in and report it to 911 on the spot. It’s important to call in and let police come out and do their job. If a burglar gets run off someone’s property, the burglar is likely to go somewhere else and break in again.
Mayor Verner: what I’m hearing is that people don’t report incidents because they don’t think anything is going to happen? (correct, business owners say) Verner explains that she gets “Aim Reports” from the SPD that show what the police department is focusing on. “We need a feedback loop, we need to find a way to get that information back to the community, so people don’t think their reports go into a black hole.”
They are labor intensive, someone has to watch them all the time. The business owners in Hillyard have purchased ISP addresses so their camera feeds can be viewed at the COPS shop.
SPD needs license plate numbers, times and dates. Descriptions of the people who show up frequently, but be careful while you are doing it so you don’t get into a confrontation with drug dealers or other criminals.
Report incidents even if you don’t think police is going to come out - it helps the police department build a pattern of activity, if there is one. Some of this information may be useful in court.
COPS suggests Business Watch - a plan like Block Watch, just for businesses. This effort has been very successful in the International District on East Sprague.
Note: These are essentially my notes, the way I take them at any meeting I cover - experimenting with live blogging.
SPD: patrol officers in general run from disaster to disaster. The drug unit is not well equipped to deal with drug problems like the one in Hillyard. SPD says that you can’t just throw a couple of officers out there in plain clothes and take care of it. Some smaller drug units will be formed in January.
SPD Major Stevens: one thing we are trying to do is coodinate with the community and the police department - sometimes we don’t communicate real well and coordinate our efforts - we are working on that. He says they are going to sustain the drug effort. One thing people in Hillyard can do is notice and report drug houses - it will help SPD pick people up. “The more information we have the better we can respond,” Stevens said.
He adds that they have a high level of technology that can help them sustain what they are doing - they want to keep the pressure up - especially with people that are identified as repeat offenders. “We are trying to get the judges on board to boost their bail up, so they don’t get out of jail so easily,” Stevens said.
Marv Peterson: “There is so much drug dealing and vandalism going on here. I was broken into. We know the people who did it but we can’t do anything about it.”
Richard Burris: “We sometimes go out at night to keep an eye on things. There was a lot of traffic and people were getting in your face. We are not asking for more protection, we know that you don’t have enough resources. What we are asking for is more undercover patrols - everybody can recognize a black and white patrol car from a mile away. It doesn’t work.” The community groups are hoping that the SPD will be able to switch some resources to undercover patrols instead of regular street patrols.
Luke Tolley: “The response to the letter we sent has been awesome. Where we are at now is how do we continue on and work with the city.”
In response to a letter sent to City Hall and the Spokane Police Department in November, there’s a community meeting going on right now at the Outlaw Cafe on Market Street. About 30 people are here - including council member Amber Waldreff, Mayor Mary Verner and many representatives from the Spokane Police Department.
Apologies for typos in the following posts - it’s the first time I’m doing live blogging - fun, yet demanding!
The Greater Hillyard Business Association has it’s board meeting today at noon at the Outlaw Cafe. And Wednesday morning at 8:30 a.m. is the usual meeting time for the Historic Hillyard Merchants Committee - also at the Outlaw Cafe.
If you’d like to stay in touch with your local COPS Shops, join them here on Facebook. The social network makes it easy to keep up with a variety of community groups; if you explore a little you’ll also find that many of your favorite Hillyard businesses also have Facebook pages.
And yes that’s snow out there and it’s going to continue to fall for a while. Drivers were making their way downtown this morning without too much drama, but please do take your time - and don’t follow too closely.
Homeowners are responsible for keeping their sidewalks clear of snow and ice - if you have a moment, check on elderly neighbors and make sure everyone is okay. Small favors, like picking up a few things at the store when you’re going anyways, or sweeping the frontsteps for someone who can’t do it alone, means the world at this time of the year.