At the March meeting of the East Precinct Advisory Council (EastPAC), a meeting of citizens and authorities of the Seattle Police Department, members and officers spoke on crime activity and block watches. EastPAC is a monthly forum of those who live, work or have some other tie to Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct.
Block watches have been around in Seattle since the 1970s when they were established to deal with the heavy crime problem. Block watches are programs based on the idea that neighbors collaborating can be the first and best line of defense to prevent and react to crime. The neighbors organize themselves to watch for crime in their area so they are better prepared to contact the police and be witnesses in the event of a crime. Block watch captains work with the police and each other to remain as current as possible on crime patterns.
West Seattle block watch captains network have utilized technology to help block watch captains and police work together as efficiently as possible. Organizers use Facebook and email to get information and newsletters out to members as fast as possible. Social media can also be used to get people involved by informing them of the existence of block watches and the possibilities in their areas. Even one meeting for a neighborhood to get to know each other can make neighbors more inclined to contact the police if they witness a crime being committed.
Petty crimes that are prevented with the help of block watches have gone down in Seattle, but lately there have been many instances of gang activity according to Lt. Dan Whelan of the Seattle Police Department. Many of the same individuals have started violent altercations in Seattle and as far south as Renton, Kent, and Tukwila. The 12 gang detectives of the Seattle Police Force have good leads on many of these young men, most younger than 20.
Captain Davis expressed his support for block watches in Seattle. He stated that motor vehicle thefts and car prowls are down and stressed the importance of the police force working with block watches in order to continue to suppress crime.
Many of the speakers suggested that citizens attend a block watch meeting and look into the possibility of starting a block watch in their neighborhood. It is also greatly beneficial to know who the local Community Police Team officers are. To start a block watch in the East Precinct, call Terrie Johnston, (206)-233-0015. The phone number for the East Precinct CPT is 684-4370.
(Editor: Kai is a student at Garfield High School. He attended this meeting with our Public Health & Safety Chair, Tracy Bier and wrote this article for the Leschi News. East Precinct is one of the categories now listed on our website; the EastPAC meetings occur in the last week of the month after our Leschi News deadline so the notes have always been late. This way we can put the latest information on the website in a more timely manner, but this does not mean we will be following daily crime news. We don’t have the staff for that; we refer you to the East Precinct blog.)