Notes from April 27 Meeting re: Crime in the Eastside

First United Methodist Church
Wednesday, April 27, 7:00 – 9:00 pm

Unrelated Updates:

Madison Elementary Plant Sale

Saturday, May 7, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Funds raised support the school

Bike Corridor Project

Michelle Swanson, City of Olympia
Pilot project
Info available at – olympiawa.gov/bikecorridors
Changes in the crosswalk and bulb-outs
Interim materials being used. Will make more permanent.
Connects Lions Park to downtown Sylvester park.
Some portions of bike corridor will not be open until winter.
Survey will be sent out.
Kickoff event in the next few weeks.

Crime Conversation:

Attending:
Olympia Police Department: Lt. Paul Lower
Olympia City Council: Clark Gilman, Nathaniel Jones, Jim Cooper
Over 60 Eastside neighbors

Duplex 1406-1408 Central St. SE

  • 70 calls for 1406 alone
  • Neighbors expressed concern about: “non-stop” visits by people in cars on bikes; apparent drug deal went down yesterday and cops didn’t show up until 3 hours later; “creepers follow me up and down the block, prostitution, drugs, and nobody does anything”; parking in front of homes, blocking driveways; “I feel I have open carry in my yard to let them know. I don’t want to have to do anything like that, but…”
  • OPD says they have been there every day, sitting in cars, knocking on doors.
  • Recent update – bank foreclosed, new, not local management company. Amy Stull is talking to management company. Eviction process underway. September 2016 is the lockout date for these houses. They could move out sooner, but that’s when they shut the home down.
  • What is the understanding of the water being turned off and is there a deal to keep it on? Can they still live in it?

Current State of Crime in the Eastside

  • Burglaries are averaging 281 residential burglaries.
  • Person crimes are tracked separately. Robbery, we’ve had 5 that have been reported.
  • Vehicle prowls are crazy throughout the city.
  • Cars stolen in a month – February 25. This is throughout the city, but the county has been having thefts as well. They are working on curbing it. March is at 10. They’ve used bait cars.
  • Violent crimes – very little; Olympia is generally safe.
  • Drive by shooting a month ago, on 4th Ave.
  • Crime has ramped up over the last year and a half.
  • Perception is that the Eastside neighborhood is getting pillaged; data does not support this. From the map you can see that there are only a few this week in our area.

OPD Staffing and Resources

  • 5 officers for city of Olympia from 5:00 – 11:00 pm, even less at night. Wednesday night they had 172 calls for service.
  • Using social media to help and spread the word to help find criminals. OPD is on Twitter, Nextdoor, Instagram. Weekly updates sent out. 8 officers will be working the streets on bikes this summer to get out in parks and downtown area.

Concerns About Available Resources

  • Neighbors expressed concern that city ordinances don’t provide for our safety. We need more than a bandaid , we had meeting 2 years ago but OPD is not powerful enough to stop it. We need to be solution-focused to combat crime. Frustration that felons get out of jail the same day – the system is failing with people that burglarize and get caught and then they are released.
  • Homelessness and drug addiction are problems nationally.
  • There is not a lot of jail space and OPD is frustrated as well when they arrest someone and their paperwork isn’t done but the person is back out on the streets. Working with the municipal courts to make sure certain people that need to be held, should be held.
  • Social services increasing, helps out the OPD to assist persons, maybe not hardened criminals, that need mental help or otherwise.
  • OPD does not have the authority to drug test people they arrest – they can only do a breathalyzer or blood draw if there is a DUI.
  • City just received a grant to have a Community Court. To help aid in law enforcement assistance diversion.
  • Neighbor expressed concern that call rate for Olympia is 4x the number of Tacoma calls? Argument ensued re: accuracy of this neighbor’s data.

Potential Solutions

  • We need to work together and get to know neighbors. We all have to do our part. The best way to deter crime is to know your neighbors.
  • Crime prevention through environmental design. Are there places for people to hide? Find out when your neighbors go to work.
  • Neighbor: threat indications – organic vs. non-organic activity. We can create groups and identify how to articulate things we’ve seen to the police. Initial force protection deterrents, soft target or a hard target? Get on Amazon, get alarms, bells and whistles. Try to beef up your security and make your homes look like they are a “hard target”.
  • Is there any legislation to be passed that can get people evicted more quickly, especially when there’s a criminal element. How far on the property can the code enforcement people come onto the property without a court order? Does WA state have stricter laws or more lenient laws?
    OPD has to protect everyone.There are many laws out there dealing with property and civil rights. Can’t just open their doors or their trunks.There used to be a time where you could and stake out a house or car, find a reason to pull them over and arrest them for something else and end up with a drug bust. 9th circuit has moved the authority away from cops to do that.
  • Code enforcement goes to properties to check up on homes that look likes they’re running a business.
  • Neighborhood night out?
  • Maybe organize a community clean-up. We need to bring something to the table to the maintenance people to find out about cleaning up the neighborhood. Maybe we need to approach it from a neighborhood association standpoint, but ENA participation is sorely lacking.
  • Block Watch. Amy Stull can give presentations. Notes from previous Block Watch presentation can be found here. This idea has fallen through in the past because neighbors have not stepped up to the plate to captain blocks. There needs to be a block captain.
  • Maybe we need more officers in the City of Olympia? There are many funding issues. Each officer is $100,000 per year for training and benefits. Through the budget process we can talk about how we can bring more resources to our police department. Currently, they are trying to pay for cameras in more areas to be able to monitor areas.
  • Some Seattle neighborhoods have private security firms in their area to patrol. According to one neighbor, in our area it costs $20 an hour to patrol the street. Sometimes these private security forces include people with lengthy criminal records – they are not the same as police officers.
  • City needs to put together a City wide crime task force to work on solutions.
  • Chief Roberts is open to how to pool resources but everyone in the neighborhoods to be more involved.
  • Councilman Nathaniel Jones- Fairly extensive outreach to see if the police force is reacting the way we want them to. Awaiting a report in the next month from the chief of police and their strategic plan to respond to the community. Budget of $500K was added for the OPD. Council is engaged and making efforts.
  • Get involved: Citizen advisory committees, know your neighbors, be in your yards more.
  • Brian – president ENA will help anyone install lights on their house.

Next Steps

  • Another meeting on Thursday, May 12, 7:00 pm at the First United Methodist Church to discuss where to go from here.
  • Have a liaison with the city at the next meeting. To “try to fix the broken window” we need to know what we can legally and not legally do to make a difference.

Thank you!

  • Thanks to all who attended, and offered input!

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