August 4, 2011 in Washington Voices

Formidable foursome for would-be crooks

Trentwood SCOPE’s small band of volunteers operates out of apartment
By The Spokesman-Review
J. Bart Rayniak photoBuy this photo

Trentwood SCOPE volunteers, who work out of an apartment in the Valley 206 Apartment Complex, from right, are President Walt Faulkner, Treasurer Jan Eastman and Vice President Gerry Collins. Not pictured is Esther Faulkner.
(Full-size photo)

One of the more interesting SCOPE (Sheriff Community Oriented Policing Effort) stations in Spokane Valley may be the Trentwood station.

Not only is it located inside an apartment in the Valley 206 Apartment Complex, 2400 N. Wilbur Road, but it’s run by only four volunteers – Walt and Esther Faulkner, Gerry Collins and Jan Eastman.

“We have a very small group,” Walt Faulkner said of the station that has been around for 12 years.

And they stay pretty busy. This week, they’ve been distributing coffee and cookies at the Sprague rest area on Interstate 90. They baked more than 17 boxes of cookies to give to weary travelers in the hopes of drumming up some donations.

“We’ve got cookies coming out of our ears,” said Treasurer Jan Eastman.

She said they give much of the donations back to the community, to organizations such as Second Harvest Food Bank, Spokane Valley Meals on Wheels and the Law Enforcement Museum in downtown Spokane.

They hand out blinking lights to trick-or-treaters on Halloween, both to the residents of the apartment complex to people in the neighborhood. The red, star-shaped lights help motorists to see the children on dark streets. Last year, they distributed over 1,000 of them.

Walt Faulkner said the station leads the county in Citizen on Patrol hours, but with only four members doing it they can’t cover enough ground. Faulkner also checks pawn shop lists hoping to identify stolen items. There are also the Neighborhood Watch program and Operation Family ID.

Every neighborhood deals with different criminal activity throughout the year. Eastman said right now their concern is vehicle prowling, malicious mischief and theft. She said people often leave valuables in their cars – an invitation for a break-in.

Despite the small number of members, they still manage to open every Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“There’s tons of things you can do in SCOPE,” Eastman said.

Eastman started volunteering with the program after participating in her local Neighborhood Watch. From there, it was a step up to SCOPE, where she thought she could get more involved in her community.

The Faulkners were recruited through a former member.

“It’s something we do that does good for our community,” he said. “You’re allowed to get out and roam around and be nosy.”

Gerry Collins had a similar experience when she joined.

“A former member came to my door on a rainy day,” she said. She had just retired and was looking for a volunteer opportunity.

Walt Faulkner said he finds being a SCOPE volunteer very rewarding. Once he found a tackle box in the middle of the road and was able to return it to its owner. It turned out the owner’s grandfather had given it to him just before he died.

“That made me feel good,” Faulkner said.

The group’s main effort is creating a presence in the community that deters crime.

“I think we do have an effect on it,” Faulkner said. He noted the trail heads the group monitors tend not to be as active at night as they once were.

Sheriff’s Detective Mark Stewart also keeps an office in the station. The group also has a SCOPE patrol car parked out front, which also helps scare away criminal activity.

They would like to be busier in their neighborhood but don’t have the membership to keep it going. Eastman said they have had a larger group in the past, but some of the older members had health problems or they moved away. They would like to get some younger members, but they know it’s usually the retired community that has time for it.

“Younger people just don’t do volunteer stuff,” Eastman said.

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