McGruff falls to budget cuts

SUNDAY, JUNE 3, 2012

National group ending crime-fighting program

McGruff, the nation’s most famous crime dog, no longer patrols Spokane streets.

Known for promoting crime prevention in public service announcements with his “Take a Bite Out of Crime” slogan, McGruff’s stern face could also be found on signs hanging in windows throughout Spokane neighborhoods.

For three decades, the National Crime Prevention Council has distributed the signs for its McGruff House program, a service that allows adult volunteers to turn their homes into safe havens for children who find themselves in danger on the streets.

But the group decided to begin phasing out its program this winter due to funding problems. The organization has asked participants to take down their signs as local police and the Spokane Community Oriented Policing Services continue to spread the word about the end of the program.

In addition to volunteers in Spokane, about 400 or 500 houses throughout the county usually participated, said Deputy Greg Snyder, a Spokane Valley crime prevention officer.

In the absence of the program, there are still several similar resources throughout the area, said Maurece Vulcano, a programs manager for Spokane COPS.

Despite the demise of the program, police officers will still use the McGruff costume to teach kids about crime prevention.

“McGruff’s one of the longest-standing icons for safety in the country,” Snyder said. “We still offer education for younger kids, and sometimes he’s a part of that.”

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