When thieves stole copper wire out of empty buildings nearby, it all got to be too much for Julie Shepard-Hall.
She owns ZipperZ, a consignment shop on Garland Avenue with her daughter and Shepard-Hall said she feels like there has been more crime in the neighborhood lately.
“The graffiti problem up here is huge. And there were the shootings just over on Lincoln,” Shepard-Hall said. “There has been a lot of stuff going on, and it just seems to be getting worse.”
Together with other business owners, Shepard-Hall is now trying to open a COPS shop in the Garland Business District.
“We have been talking about that for some time,” she said, “and now, with all this stuff going on, we want to see if the residents here are interested in backing a COPS shop.” A meeting to rally support for the proposed shop will be Wednesday.
Shepard-Hall said many Garland business owners don’t live in the neighborhood, so without solid support from residents it will be impossible to run a COPS shop, which depends on volunteer staffing.
“We can do some of it, but we can’t do all of it,” Shepard-Hall said. “We need support from people who live here.”
There are 10 COPS shops in Spokane and the Garland Business District falls in the geographical area covered by COPS North Hill. North Hill doesn’t have a storefront location; instead it’s based out of a small COPS van that’s taken to community events, and it holds its meetings at COPS Northwest on West Wellesley Avenue.
Christine Hamilton, director of COPS, said she has been working with the Garland Business District for more than a year.
Shepard-Hall has already located an empty storefront, in a little strip mall just south of Garland Avenue.
“It’s the perfect location, and the owner will give us a really good deal on the lease,” said Shepard-Hall, adding that she worries about the cost of running the shop. “We will need a lot of donations.”
Hamilton said the money for a COPS shop’s infrastructure should come from the city.
“The city should pay for the lease, the lights, the phone lines, the heat – that’s what I call infrastructure,” Hamilton said.
Individual COPS shops do their own fundraisers to pay for supplies, coffee, snacks and other extras.
COPS is currently negotiating a new contract with the city of Spokane and Hamilton said she doesn’t know if there will be money in the budget for a new shop.
“Indian Trail and West Plains would also like to have COPS shops,” Hamilton said. “But I’m excited about this meeting – I think they can pull it off on Garland.”
Shepard-Hall knows there’s a lot of work ahead.
“If we get started, we still need to find desks and chairs and computers and all that for an office,” she said, adding that the COPS shop would need at least 20 volunteers to get off the ground.
Shepard-Hall said she feels like she has great support from the Garland Business District, but she worries it will be more difficult to get support from residents and that’s the biggest reason why she’s having the meeting Wednesday.
“We need a coordinator, someone who lives here,” Shepard-Hall said, “and right now I can’t even get a volunteer to hand out fliers.”