Community Safety has been a hot topic on the Montlake Forum lately –lots of ideas and strong opinions. Your Montlake Community Club Board is working to do something about safety while keeping Montlake welcoming too. November 12, Montlakers were invited to a meeting with East Precinct Police & the Crime Prevention Specialist. Read further to find out what we learned, and what we are doing to make Montlake a safe, welcoming, neighborly place to live……
Crime Prevention Best Practices
Crime Prevention Specialist,Terrie Johnston, of the East/West Precinct, offered advice at the meeting about protecting basic home & property, that is, on burglary, auto & other property theft prevention. Maybe surprisingly, she didn’t start by focusing on more alarms with bells and whistles, or more defensive weapons. She started by reminding us to get to know our neighbors. But of course! More pairs of eyes observing; more working together to take care of each other; more block watch participation efforts. Those are proven protections.
She talked about securing the locks on our windows and doors. But, of course! Developing the habit of locking the car, and buttoning up our houses makes sense. We need to do it. She reminded us too about documenting our belongings. Sure, we all hope we can prevent burglary, but if it happens, we need to know what’s missing, so our items might be identified and returned, if the burglars are caught.
Specialist Johnston reminded us to honor our intuition”—if someone on the street, down the sidewalk, or at the door gives you concern, call 911 to report it. Don’t ignore your gut reaction. She advised “Answer the door (talk through the door). Don’t open it until you know who is there.” Do let potential burglars know someone is in the house, rather than giving the impression no one is around.
Burglers and thieves work 24/7, so don’t live in fear, but be cautious around the clock. And, finally, if you are still feeling insecure, make an appointment through the East precinct non- emergency number ((206-684-4300) to ask for an officer to visit your home for a walk-about and specific advice on helpful safety measures you can take, including possible additional (but not neighbor-abusive ) lighting, shrub pruning, and lock upgrades.
SPD offers various crime prevention resources, bulletins, and check sheets at the SPD website (www.seattle.gov/police/). For those unable to attend the safety meeting, this website is well worth visiting for crime prevention advice.
SPD Officer Jay Shin, the Unit Supervisor of the Community Police Team for the East Precinct joined Johnston to respond to neighbors’ questions and concerns. Those concerns included (from most frequently mentioned to least) high speed & reckless driving, car break-ins & general property theft, burglary, personal safety in parks, homeless people & crime potential, commercial area safety, and lighting trespass.
Officer Shin spoke first to concerns about speeding traffic and reckless driving. He agreed to ask precinct traffic officers for increased patrols and ticketing on main arterials, and encouraged us to continue to work with SDOT on traffic calming approaches–as we are. Shin also addressed concerns about homeless people in the neighborhood, saying they are victims more frequently than the perpetrators of crimes, so are not often the likely suspects in thefts, car prowls, or burglaries.
For other concerns, Shin, like Johnston, encouraged the enhancement of community building and block watch organizing. He observed that our neighborhood has a history of far lower crime incidents than others within the precinct, so we will usually have a lower police presence. Current crime statistics show we continue to have lower crime rates—and that is a good thing. So how we can gain quick response for the times we really do need the police remains an on-going issue. That, we must continue to advocate for as a community.
Generating Our Own Safety Plans
After the Precinct guests presented, the Montlake neighbors attending the meeting spent time in table discussions identifying the most important ways we could improve community safety. Three primary ideas emerged: a) more traffic control measures, b) advocacy for more police staffing and c) an enhanced Block Watch program. Eight (8) meeting participants offered to help in various ways on future safety efforts, including five (5) who were willing to serve as Block Watch captains or co-captain, and others willing to be worker bees on an action group (4) and/or participate in a community-wide safety committee (3). Since the Safety Meeting, four (4) other individuals participating in Forum discussions have also offered to be involved.
So here’s what’s planned for 2015, as follow up to that November safety meeting. We’ll work on three inter-connected efforts, as follows:
Traffic issues will continue to be addressed by neighbor volunteers led by Montlake Community Club Board member, Lionel Job. Lionel has worked tirelessly to attain safe streets for all in collaboration with the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) through the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and Safe Routes to School programs.
Block Watch organizing and revitalization will be led by Bryan Haworth, another MCC Board member. He’ll be initiating activities to organize Block Watch captains beginning in winter, 2015.
Crime Incidence, Police Staffing & Service Priorities will be addressed by volunteers invited to work with MCC Board members, Nathalie Gehrke & Bob DeLay, who also will kick off efforts early in 2015.
As work proceeds, expect to get progress reports through the Montlake Flyer and Forum, so keep an eye out for briefs from time to time. And if you want to help, write to Safety@Montlake.net .
Let’s keep Montlake welcoming, neighborly, and safe—working together.