Voices

Group Thrives Without Base In/Around: Emerson-Garfield, Nevada-Lidgerwood

It doesn’t take a shop to have a copshop.

That’s the message being put out by the Neva-Wood COPS organization, which has been spearheading community policing programs in northeast Spokane for more than a year - without a building.

“There’s a feeling you have to have that building; that’s when it becomes visual,” said Deborah Wittwer, an organizer for Neva-Wood COPS. “We’ve been doing it for 17 months without a building.”

Wittwer spoke last week to the Emerson-Garfield Steering Committee, which is trying to find a building for a police substation in that neighborhood.

What she told them may make finding a building the easiest part of community policing.

Wittwer said Neva-Wood COPS had a building picked out at Hoffman and Nevada, but plans fell through. So with more than 300 volunteers, she and others had to find activities to keep people motivated.

That they did.

Among the activities undertaken was a barbecue for apartment house residents seeking to start a block watch, a blanket drive, pancake and taco fund-raisers, home painting, an alley patrol and a sleep-out in Glass Park, where they arranged for 40 kids to camp, eat pizza and have water fights in order to deter gangs active in the park.

“We made a stand in that park,” Wittwer said. “We weren’t going to let anything happen.”

The alley patrol program is now being reviewed by the city for use elsewhere.

It was done with help from Kmart, Ernst and Payless, which offered low-cost sensor and motion lights as well as paint for addresses. More than 50 lights were installed in the front and back of homes, and bright addresses were painted in alleys so police could better track burglars.

“If you’re in a car, you can’t see and you can’t hear. Those alleys really are dark,” Wittwer told the steering committee.

The talk helped energize Debby Stanard, who is trying to recruit volunteers in the Emerson-Garfield neighborhood, which stretches north from Boone Avenue to the hill between Division and Belt streets. The area is home to about 10,000 people.

So far, 15 people have filled out applications to volunteer in community policing programs, and $150 has been donated from businesses along the west side of Division, some of which have been vandalized.

Volunteers are required to go through background checks and training.

The Nevada-Lidgerwood volunteers have even offered to come into Emerson-Garfield for a giant rally that would help kick-start the community policing effort there.

Stanard and Emerson-Garfield Steering Committee President Ted Horobiowski said community policing is sorely needed in their neighborhood. Emerson-Garfield has led the North Side in burglary and vandalism activity for the past five months.

“We haven’t had a visible presence out in the community and the word is getting out,” said Stanard. “They’re coming into our neighborhood.”

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This sidebar ran with story: NORTH SIDE NEIGHBORHOOD CRIME Here are the number of incidents for various crimes on Spokane’s North Side. The four neighborhoods with the most crime have or are organizing community policing efforts.

Burglaries Robberies Rapes TOTAL Emerson-Garfield 372 44 27 443 Indian Trail 84 10 5 99 North Hill 204 19 7 230 Shadle Park 176 12 14 202 West Central 154 22 21 197 Hillyard 412 42 31 485 Logan 226 38 19 283 Nevada-Lidgerwood 375 57 27 459 Shiloh Hills 89 11 6 106 Cannon Hill 196 16 15 227 Garry Park 203 15 16 234 Source: Spokane Crime Analysis Staff graphic: Molly Quinn



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