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Washington Voices

Safe havens for children needed

Businesses, homes can become McGruff houses

The crime-fighting dog McGruff is looking for a few more houses.

In 1986, the McGruff Safe House program was established in Spokane, and over the years it grew to count more than 250 homes and businesses across town.

Today, there are just 132 sites, and Spokane Community Oriented Policing Services would like to get some more residents, businesses and even child care providers involved.

“McGruff Safe House representatives are typically home in the morning and afternoon during the school year to provide safe locations for children to go in an emergency,” said Maurece Vulcano, COPS programs manager.

An emergency can be anything from needing a bandage for a scraped knee to getting lost or feeling frightened because a stranger is following too closely.

McGruff Safe Houses have a sign displayed in a window so they are easy to identify.

As something new, child care centers big and small are encouraged to apply for McGruff Safe House status. The Spokane Police Department and COPS have created an informational video about McGruff Safe Houses that will run on cable Channel 5 during August.

To get McGruff Safe House status, residents of the address must pass a background check.

“When adults think of emergency situations, we think of assault or kidnapping. Kids think of being locked out, lost, hurt or frightened,” said Vulcano. “The need for McGruff Safe Houses remains high. If every block had one, there would be more safety for every child.”

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