FWay police walking the beat – 21st-century style
Community policing in urban areas tends to be hobbled by arithmetic: Too many crooks to chase, too few cops to do the chasing.
The Federal Way Police Department has deployed a 21st-century strategy to help tilt the math in favor of the good guys. It revolves around a website, safecityfw.com, run by a nonprofit outfit called Safe City Federal Way.
Puget Sound cities that haven't taken their community policing efforts online should take a look.
The original version of community policing was just an old-fashioned cop walking a regular neighborhood beat. A good officer in the shoe-leather days might get to know hundreds of locals on a personal basis. They'd tip the officer off to offenders, suspicious doings and kids starting to go bad (who'd get a friendly but stern talking-to).
Modern law enforcement agencies often attempt to replicate the same kind of alliances with neighborhoods. They've been successful in such places as Tacoma's Hilltop, but rapid response calls and urgent detective work still consume most of their resources.
Federal Way has found another way to replicate the beat: controlled-access social networks. Federal Way Police Commander Chris Norman described safecityfw.com as the most exciting law enforcement development he's seen in his 30-year career. “It's a huge force multiplier,” he said.
Safe City Federal Way started as an effort to expand the use of crime-prevention surveillance cameras; it was funded with the help of a $100,000 grant from Target and $180,000 from the city budget.
But the web platform itself cost only $1,500 to set up and requires only $1,500 a year to maintain, Norman said.
The website is grouped by large residential areas – Twin Lakes, for example, and Marine Hills – as well as by neighborhoods, retailers, property owners and managers.
You can't join unless you belong to the group. Each group has a volunteer administrator who monitors postings and controls access. Neighborhoods join by naming themselves and picking an administrator.
The platform serves many purposes. Police post photos of suspects; members watch for them. Members post descriptions of vehicles or apparent prowlers; police check into them.
When crimes are reported, they're flagged on a map that reveals proximity and patterns. Officers and members can blast out reports, comments and warnings to everyone within a group. Hundreds of people can communicate instantaneously; police and citizens stay connected in real time.
Successful law enforcement depends on citizens who trust cops and are willing to serve as their eyes and ears. A program like Safe City Federal Way could expand these relationships dramatically. The city deserves credit for what looks like a major innovation in police work.
Scottsdale bar public-safety ordinance draft ready for council
by Edward Gately
A proposed public-safety ordinance prompted by two stabbings at a Scottsdale nightclub is ready to go before the City Council on Sept. 10.
The ordinance requires establishments to file new public-safety plans, includes minimum standards for security personnel and requires those businesses with felony incidents to hire off-duty peace officers. If any establishment is found in repeated violation of the ordinance, it could be shut down.
The ordinance is the result of Mayor Jim Lane, other city officials and downtown bar owners coming together to examine the issue of safety in the aftermath of the January fatal stabbing of Tyrice Thompson outside Martini Ranch, 7295 E. Stetson Drive, in the downtown entertainment district. He was a bouncer there.
A second stabbing occurred at Martini Ranch in June.
The 20th version of the ordinance includes more changes made in response to public input, said J.P. Twist, Lane's chief of staff. The most recent public meeting on the proposed ordinance took place Aug. 8.
“When government considers regulating an entire industry, it must do it with careful consideration to the impact it will have on those affected by it,” Lane said. “City staff have done an admirable job working with the community over the past six months to identify the proper balance between the goals of the ordinance and the concerns of those affected by it.”
The ordinance requires establishments to immediately report to the Scottsdale Police Department any act constituting a felony public-safety incidentthat occurs on the premises. The fine for false reporting has been increased from $500 to $1,000 for the first violation. The fine for a second or subsequent violation within a year is $2,000.
The second change eases the ratio of required security personnel to the number of patrons for establishments where 90 percent of the patrons are seated, as opposed to standing and walking around.
The ordinance requires establishments have at least one security worker per 50 patrons during peak hours for the first 500 patrons, and at least one additional security worker per 75 patrons beyond that.
The ordinance still requires establishments with two or more felony public-safety incidents within a one-week period, or three or more incidents within a month, to hire at least two off-duty peace officers to supplement security personnel during peak times for at least three months. The requirements are stricter for more serious felony offenses, such as use or threatened use of a deadly weapon, death or catastrophic injury.
Some community activist groups still have concerns about the ordinance, saying it doesn't go far enough in forcing establishments to ensure a safe environment for patrons.
Sonnie Kirtley, chairwoman of the Coalition of Greater Scottsdale, said her organization believes the fines for violating the ordinance, $500 for a first violation and $1,000 for a subsequent violation within a year, are too lenient, and that live entertainment should have been left among criteria for applicability.
The Association to Preserve Downtown Scottsdale's Quality of Life also has continuing concerns about the ordinance.
The time limits for the occurrence of public-safety incidents should be extended to at least 90 days, said Bill Crawford, the association's president.
“Two in a week isn't long enough to establish a pattern because after one, all of a sudden everyone will be on their best behavior,” he said. “It should be at least a 30-day period and the time frame should be 90 days.”
The Coalition of Greater Scottsdale advocates a six-month time frame for the occurrence of public-safety incidents, Kirtley said.
Critics also say the fines for violation constitute a “slap on the wrist,” and that the ordinance gives too much “power and discretion” to Chief of Police Alan Rodbell. The power instead should be shared by a committee of city officials, Crawford said.
Police, mayor to host public safety town hall meeting in Covina
by Brian Day
Police and city officials are planning a town hall meeting focusing on public safety and the ongoing California prison realignment process.
The meeting is to take place at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 12 at Royal Oak Middle School, 303 S. Glendora Avenue in Covina, organizers said in a written statement.
Keynote speakers will include Covina Police Chief Kim Raney and Mayor Walter Allen III.
In addition to discussing the impacts of the prison realignment brought about by A.B. 109 in 2011, topics will also include public safety issues such as school safety, neighborhood watch, disaster preparedness and social media.
Los Angeles County firefighters will bring the department's “Shakey Quakey Schoolhouse” earthquake simulator.
For more information, the Covina Police Department can be reached at 626-384-5653.
Musician turns 9/11 survivor stories into songs
A dozen years after 9/11, an American musician has turned memories of grief into survivor songs _ some of them surprisingly joyous.
Composer Jake Heggie said Sunday that his new album titled "here/after (songs of lost voices)" is meant to create hope.
The singers on the album tell the stories of 9/11 survivors from around the country. Their songs express thoughts about lost loved ones as they sort belongings left behind. One set of songs is called "Pieces of 9-11."
Grammy award-winning songwriter Gene Scheer used the words of real people for the lyrics. Adults and children shared sometimes whimsical stories about dead spouses, fathers and friends.
One song asks the emotionally tricky questions: "What's beyond your anger? What's beyond your sorrow?"
The album will be released Oct. 21.