Highlights and follow-up from our January meeting!

We had some great discussion at our meeting yesterday. Thanks to all of you who participated!

We were happy that Officer Todd Wiebke was able to attend, as well as others from the SW Precinct. We heard updates from Captain Pierre Davis about recent trends and how his officers have been successful at addressing them. Operations Lt. Ron Smith; Crime Prevention Coordinator, Mark Solomon; and outgoing Research Analyst, Jennifer Burbridge were also on hand.

Officer Wiebke spoke about his work with the homeless population in the SW Precinct which includes West Seattle and South Park. He put a human face on this issue, describing some of the homeless individuals that he has met while doing this work. We were surprised to learn that some have jobs, but return to an encampment each night.

He also spoke of some of the challenges that the homeless have. He focused on the distinction between clean and sober encampments such as Camp Second Chance (CSC), and some of the ad hoc, unregulated encampments that are elsewhere in our precinct; as well as throughout Seattle, and to the south in some of the unincorporated areas.

Officer Todd Wiebke, from the SW Precinct Community Police Team, describes how SPD's role in addressing homeless issues is a small part of a broader effort involving many others

Officer Todd Wiebke, from the SW Precinct Community Police Team, describes how SPD’s role in addressing homeless issues is a small part of a broader effort that involves many others.

Some of the complexity in addressing homelessness has to do with the location of encampments. Some are in different jurisdictions — city, county, and state. As well, some of the homeless are in parks, are on private or commercial property, or on abandoned property in the process of foreclosure.

He noted an important distinction: “homelessness versus lawlessness.” He talked of success he has had helping some of the homeless get back on their feet, in some cases, connecting them with organizations and programs that provide support.

Officer Wiebke also talked of successfully cleaning out homeless encampments, if the inhabitants are breaking laws. He spoke in detail about those living in vehicles such as RV’s and campers. Individuals who are using drugs are usually also committing crimes to support those habits. He explained some of the challenges of getting them to leave.

He also addressed the issue of mental illness among some homeless. Many were surprised to hear him say that Washington State ranks so low in mental health care. After our meeting, I discovered this recent article in the Seattle PI that provides some additional context on that issue.

He also pointed out a distinction between homeless who live among us, and transients from outside our area who may show up here to prey upon West Seattle, then return to other places.

He reiterated that those living at Camp Second Chance (and presumably residents at other clean and sober camps) are quite different than those encampments that are unregulated.  One of the requirements at CSC is that the residents keep it clean.

I was surprised to hear him say that sometimes the debris seen nearby is illegally dumped by non-homeless outsiders who don’t want to pay Transfer Station fees, and don’t care if their actions are blamed on the homeless.

We hope to have Officer Wiebke back as a guest at future meetings, as his presentation was thought-provoking and informative.

During the introductory portion of the meeting, we had a few unrelated announcements. These included information about Neighborhood Matching Fund grants and emergency preparedness classes. Barbara Pascucci spoke briefly about HALA rezoning meetings. I’ll add links to that information shortly.

As well, Deborah and I opened the meeting with some of our thoughts about what we’d like to accomplish or potentially change as we head further into this new year. We’ll follow up with a separate post about that; we want your thoughts and input! You can email us at wsblockwatchnet@gmail.com.

FYI, West Seattle blog has highlights from our meeting here. [Added, 1/27/17:  WSB has just posted an overview of a visit to Camp Second Chance, that ties in well with our discussion.]

Karen Berge, Co-Founder

West Seattle Block Watch Captains’ Network (WSBWCN)

Come see us tomorrow at Delridge Day and the SW Precinct Picnic!

We won’t be in two places at once…Delridge Day and the SW Precinct Picnic are being held jointly this year, tomorrow (Saturday, August 17th) from 11 – 4 at the Delridge Community Center and in the adjacent park and Delridge Skatepark. We’ve participated in both Delridge Day and the Precinct Picnic for the past several years – should be a great combination!

We’ll be among the 75+ exhibitors, vendors and community groups particpating. You’ll also find wonderful music, entertainment, and food! Here’s the schedule. The SW Precinct (further south on Delridge, at 2300 SW Webster Street) will be offering precinct tours from 1 – 4 PM. In previous years, the Precinct Picnic has always been a great venue for kids in that it gives them an opportunity to talk to the officers, see cool robotics technology, etc.

This is our (West Seattle Block Watch Captains’ Network’s) last scheduled community outreach event for the year, so stop by to pick up free printed materials and/or learn more about our group. We have free coloring books for kids of varying ages; this includes the ‘brand new’ 9-1-1 coloring book from King County for very young kids featuring Emory the emergency penguin. We also have a wide assortment of new safety-related informational materials from the Seattle Neighborhood Group and the Seattle Office of Emergency Management, many of them available in multiple languages.

We hope to see you there!

Summer update

I know some of you are wondering about the timing of our next meeting. Deanie, Karen and I have discussed it and decided to wait until sometime in Sept. Most people have so much going on during the nice weather; meetings in July and August are not usually well-attended. In addition, BW Captains are busy …with the big “Night Out” event coming up in less than 2 weeks on Aug 3!

In between meetings, we have been working on outreach at several of the summer events, including reFRESH/Sustainable WS Festival, Morgan Junction Festival, Junction Health Fair, and the West Seattle Summer Festival (thanks to Darren Pilon for his help at Summer Fest). Our next outreach event is the SW Precinct Picnic on Sat, Aug 21, 2010 – 1:00pm. See you there!

Thanks to all of you for your individual efforts to promote the Blockwatch Captains’ Network!

On behalf of the WSBWCN,
Deb Greer