Neva-Wood COPS volunteers encounter diverse problems
COPS shops are located in many different settings and buildings. There is one at Spokane Community College, there is another one at Lewis and Clark High School, and then there’s Nevada Lidgerwood COPS. Located in what used to be two single-family homes just east of NorthTown Mall, Neva-Wood COPS, as it is called, shares a home with the Nevada Lidgerwood Neighborhood Council in a building owned by the city of Spokane.
“Well, the neighborhood council got here first,” said Barb Hedlund, chair of the board of Neva-Wood COPS. “There used to be two smaller houses and they got them put together, and then we moved in.”
COPS North Hill mobile unit – a remodeled library van that goes to community events representing COPS – is also based at Neva-Wood COPS.
“It can get kind of busy here,” Hedlund said on a Monday morning while phones were ringing and volunteers cleaned the office.
Neva-Wood COPS covers the area bounded by Division Street to the west, Perry Street to the east, Euclid Avenue to the south and Hawthorne Road to the north.
“It’s a very diverse area,” said Hedlund. “We have apartment complexes, new houses, old houses, businesses and residents that are both very young and very old.”
One successful program is the Block Watch program, which counts about 60 volunteer block coordinators. On Aug. 2, National Night Out Against Crime, most of the block watches have some activity going on.
“We don’t do a big event here at the shop for Night Out Against Crime, but we try to make it to all the block parties,” said Hedlund.
Among shop volunteers are criminal justice students from Whitworth University and Spokane Community College. William Colleran is an SCC student who plans to become a parole officer.
“I live in the neighborhood and drive by the shop all the time, so I decided to volunteer here,” said Colleran. “I was surprised by the number of different issues that get brought into the COPS shop.”
COPS volunteers aren’t police officers, but they are trained to help people find the information they need and to help them file police reports if needed.
“We get drug houses and domestic violence and all sorts of things,” said Colleran. “I have learned how to defuse a situation and how to really listen to the issues people come in with.”
Volunteers are in short supply. Hedlund said senior volunteers “drop off the map” either because they move, develop health issues or die.
“You can’t blame them at all,” she explained. “They worked hard for us and now they are in their 90s and just can’t manage any longer.”
Hedlund is not sure what that will mean to the COPS program in five years.
“It’s really hard to tell what the future will bring us,” she said. “Generally, here at Neva-Wood, we have enough volunteers to stay open – but who knows what’s going to happen?”
Among this shop’s successful programs are bicycle registration and bicycle helmet programs. The shop also mails out a newsletter every month.
“Earlene Littell is the editor of the newsletter, and she does it mostly from home – that’s another way to volunteer for us,” said Hedlund.
The shop’s graffiti coordinator, Brandi Schooley, works closely with the city’s graffiti abatement officer, Eric Walker.
“Now that some of the paint stores are offering discounts to people who’ve been hit by graffiti, she’s doing a lot to help people get those discounts,” said Hedlund.
She has volunteered with COPS for seven years, after retiring from a job as a surgical nurse.
Most often, people just need someone who’ll listen to them and their issues.
“In this world today not many people take the time to listen,” said Hedlund. “I’ll probably keep volunteering here as long as I’m able. It does help keep me alive.”