The Spokane County Sheriff’s Department this week received a $97,000 community policing grant to help fight crime in a Spokane Valley neighborhood where two women were beaten to death last year.
The Federal Problem Solving Partnership Grant from the U.S. Department of Justice will be used to set up a program to investigate and track crime in the Edgecliff neighborhood, said sheriff’s Capt. Doug Silver.
The money will pay for a deputy prosecuting attorney to be assigned to the SCOPE Edgecliff station and will buy computer equipment to track property crime in the area. A sheriff’s detective also will be assigned to the neighborhood SCOPE station within the next two months, Silver said.
“If we work together we can come up with solutions that law enforcement may not have thought of as well as solutions the community might not have thought of,” Silver said. “Everybody can share in the ownership of the decision.”
Officials plan to focus on studying residential burglary trends, Silver said. Identifying where and how crimes are committed should help develop prevention methods, he said.
Although law enforcement officials assigned to SCOPE Edgecliff will emphasize property crimes, Silver said relationships they develop with residents could also help prevent and solve violent crimes.
Wednesday’s announcement of the community policing grant came as Dwayne Woods, who is accused of killing two women and severely beating a third woman in an Edgecliff mobile home, went on trial for aggravated first-degree murder.
The April 27 attack happened two blocks from the SCOPE station at 7206 E. First.
Sherry Shaver found daughters Telisha and Venus and family friend Jade Moore beaten with a baseball bat and stabbed. Moore, 18, and Telisha Shaver, 22, died of massive head injuries the day after the attack. Both had been raped. Venus Shaver, then 19, survived.
If convicted of killing Moore and Telisha Shaver, the 27-year-old Woods could face the death penalty.
The attack shook the Edgecliff neighborhood at a time when residents were struggling to get a community policing effort off the ground. A convicted sex offender’s move into the area four months earlier had sparked interest in establishing a neighborhood SCOPE station.
Like most new SCOPE stations, volunteer turnout dropped after the initial push faded. Currently, the station is open Thursday through Saturday for a total of 11 hours.
“I think this trial will make the community realize we have a problem,” said Bob Jessie, SCOPE Edgecliff president.
Meanwhile, the number of home and car burglaries in the Edgecliff area, which has been on the rise during the past two years, continues to soar.
Two recent break-ins at Pratt Elementary School highlighted the problem. Thieves stole $15,000 worth of computer, stereo and radio equipment during the first burglary, and pried open vending machines and stole school supplies during the second.
Sheriff’s officials and SCOPE volunteers hope the federal grant will stir up renewed interest in the Edgecliff neighborhood station. They believe placing a detective and a prosecutor in the neighborhood will enhance both departments’ relationships with the community and help slow crime.
“We’re hoping that really brings everybody together,” Silver said.
SCOPE volunteers welcome the company.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Jessie said. “We think it will be very beneficial to the community.”