Violent incidents spark action at Federal Way Transit Center

Several of the items included in a new joint policing plan between Sound Transit, Federal Way police and King County Metro to provide more coverage at the Federal Way Transit Center are direct results of significant incidents that have taken place at the facility.

This past April, a man was severely assaulted by a group of men at the transit center following an altercation between the victim and suspects. The victim suffered broken bones and his jaw was wired shut to allow it to heal. After the incident, Federal Way police announced they would utilize three cameras with direct-feed to the Safe City program to help decrease crime at the center. Police hoped to have the cameras active by June. Wiring and other electrical work prolonged the installation until Oct. 14, Cmdr. Stan McCall said.

The upgrade of roughly 30 cameras to high-resolution models was also in response to criminal activity at the transit center. The step-up in security was prompted by a January 2008 shooting at the transit center. A bystander, Darrel Miller, 38, was killed when a suspect shot at an acquaintance and missed, hitting Miller.

Glenn C. Proctor, age 20 at the time, was identified by a witness as the shooter. He was apprehended and charged with second-degree murder. Existing video of the shooting was of poor quality, but an electronics engineer proved in court that the person on tape was not Proctor, who was subsequently released from jail 11 months after his arrest. Jim Ferrell and other Federal Way City Council members strongly advocated for better cameras at the transit center. Not being able to serve justice because of a lack of sophisticated technology is unacceptable, Ferrell said in April.

"What really spurred my interest is this homicide case went unsolved," Ferrell said at that time. "We cannot have that happen again."

The costs for all the cameras was covered by a Homeland Security grant obtained by Sound Transit.

More recently, 19-year-old De'Von Winston-Parks was shot and killed in September by a known acquaintance at the transit center. An on-duty Federal Way officer was in the area, quickly apprehended the shooter and took into custody another man who, at the time, was identified as a probable suspect.

The shooting came shortly after Federal Way police scaled back on a summer initiative to have more presence downtown, at parks and along attractions such as the BPA trail. No serious incidents occurred while the initiative was in place, interim police chief Andy Hwang said. The joint plan introduces a special unit to patrol the downtown area on a long-term basis.

The plan is an example of what Federal Way police do on a consistent basis in their efforts to curb crime, said Steve Neal, interim deputy police chief.

"In police work, we are constantly evaluating, restructuring and re-evaluating," he said.

The high-profile events that happened at the transit center make Federal Way appear as though it has a higher crime rate than it does, Hwang said. Crime is lower than the public's perception, he said. Across the state, of cities with populations of 50,000 plus, Federal Way has the fourth lowest index crime rate. In Western Washington, it ranks second lowest in the same category.

The transit center continues to be an area of concern because it is a destination, as opposed to other regional transit hubs in more desolate locations, Hwang said. Riders specifically come to the Federal Way Transit Center as a means of visiting The Commons mall and other attractions, he said. Several bus lines also end in Federal Way.

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