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County offers Safe Place on Metro buses, advises action against suspicious packages

From staff reports:

King County announced the beginning its partnership with Safe Place, a non-profit organization aimed  at building community safety nets for young people in crisis. Here in King County, that safe place will be Metro buses, and also any buses from Sound Transit that operate throughout the county.

According to the county, “more than 1,000 young people may find themselves without a safe place to go” on a given night. Of those young people, some may be abandoned or abused and “few know where to get help.” Outside of that statistic, the county estimates that at least 300 to 500 kids under 18 end up being the victim of sexual exploitation of one form or another. The county warns that “within 48 hours, one in three (young) runaways will be approached by a predator.”

When a young person in crisis needs help, the youth can approach a Metro driver and simply say “I need a safe place.” The driver will then call a youth service provider, who will meet up with the driver and youth, and get the youth to a place of safety. King County will be the largest Safe Place partner in Washington state, with the combined efforts of Metro, YouthCare, Friends of Youth and Auburn Youth Resource helping ensure kids on the streets can have a chance to get away from them. King County joins 1,529 communities across the country in providing a Safe Place for youth.

Any youth who find themselves on the streets can also take advantage of a text message service associated with Safe Place. Kids can text the word “SAFE” and also their current location to the short code 69866. In King County, they will receive a reply almost instantly, giving them information on the nearest shelters.

To learn more, visit www.nationalsafeplace.org.

See something, say something

The King County Sheriff’s Office is reminding residents that if “they see something, say something.” The reminder came in response to a USA Today article, which highlighted that suspicious package calls across the U.S. are typically benign.

Local law enforcement officials worried that the article might have a chilling effect on people making such calls, and wanted to remind residents that it’s worth the time and trouble to ensure public safety.

“We’d rather respond to a hundred false alarms than miss the one real threat,” King County sheriff Sue Rahr said in a  news release.

Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste re-iterated that the cooperation of the public on this issue is the most important factor in helping law enforcement.

“You know best what is normal in your neighborhood, your workplace or your local bus stop,” he said. “If you see something unusual, make the call. Let us be the ones to figure out whether it’s a threat.”

Law enforcement officials concede that “suspicious package calls can be disruptive, especially at airports or state ferries.”

“I would rather explain why someone missed a ferry than explain why a loved one was injured or killed,” Batiste added.

Residents are advised to call 911 when they encounter any potential suspicious packages.

 

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