Let our cops be cops | Federal Way letters
November 3, 2009 · Updated 1:38 PM
Thank you to The Mirror for shining a spotlight on the transit center violence (Oct. 24). Initially, I was encouraged that the issue of curbing the violence in our city was finally being addressed. That was until I read further to discover what the response to such violence actually was.
As a former prosecutor, and an attorney in private practice in Federal Way, I am a keen and avid supporter of law enforcement. I must question however, the stated strategy to keep the transit center safe. Classical music? Really. When has Mozart been more effective than a cop on the beat to stop a would-be purse snatcher? Or will any one of Beethoven's sonatas prevent a violent assault, or even worse? I'm all in favor of utilizing better technology to assist law enforcement, such as cameras at the transit center as advocated by city council member Jim Ferrell, but cameras can only catch a crime after the fact in a subsequent prosecution — it doesn't stop it.
Currently, the criminals have the upper hand, as a strong police presence is lacking in Federal Way. This is not the fault of the men and women in blue — they can only carry out duties as set forth by the higher-ups. The lack of a strong police presence is the direct result of misplaced priorities by the powers that be. Their policies have created a pseudo-Wild West frontier environment, where the criminal is more comfortable in public than the law-abiding citizen who is often afraid for his or her safety. As a result of these misguided priorities, currently the most visible presence of law enforcement in Federal Way is the traffic cop perched on his motorcycle with his radar gun ready to issue traffic tickets. That not a deterrent to the rapist trolling for a victim. We need our cops to be actively protecting the citizenry from crime.
When I grew up, the police were there to protect and serve the community. Unfortunately, the current powers that be, do not share that view. Instead of letting our men and women in blue do their jobs, local law enforcement has become nothing more than a necessary budgetary item for politicians to put the squeeze on year after year. With violent crime becoming commonplace, the time has long come for Federal Way citizens to demand a change in approach.
The Federal Way Police Department needs to have the ability to heed the mandate to protect and serve us now more than ever. Priorities need to change — high-tech state of the art cameras monitoring the city are cute, but aren't the answer. What we need is more old-fashioned cops on the beat. Reliance upon classical music to deter the criminals is silly. Let our cops be cops and do the jobs they were trained to do.
These misplaced priorities from the higher-ups could not be more evident than by its fanatical insistence to enforce speed limits. (Fortunately, I haven't received such a ticket yet). Is speeding really that great of a priority that violent crime prevention should take a back seat? It seems that there is always a motorcycle officer present throughout Federal Way stopping commuters late to work. Case in point: Almost every day there are motorcycle police issuing tickets on 330th Street as it connects from Campus Parkway to 1st Avenue. (There was one this morning and afternoon again). Yet, on a recent Saturday afternoon when some budding young criminals were throwing rocks, apples and other items at the windows of vehicles traveling that same route, the FWPD did not have the manpower to send an officer out to even give the cursory appearance of taking a report from a frightened motorist whose vehicle was hit. That same week a Northwest couple was sentenced to four years in prison for throwing things at cars as part of some drinking game. It's clear that other jurisdictions have it right. It's time for Federal Way to do the same. Why don't we retire their radar guns, sell their bikes and give them jobs keeping us safe rather than issuing speeding tickets to taxpayers that are going 5 over the limit?
Criminals aren't stupid. They are not deterred to commit crime in Federal Way. There may be cameras and music, but not a cop on the beat to stop them. Through no fault of the officers on the streets, a strong police presence is lacking. Criminals know that they can and will get away with it.
After all, you can ride the bus to the transit center in Federal Way, rob a woman and assault her boyfriend, and the only thing there to stop you is Pavarotti bellowing from the overhead speaker. Of course, if the attacker drove a car, at least we'd have a chance — he might get issued a speeding ticket by a motorcycle officer. The citizens of Federal Way need our cops to be allowed to be cops in order to protect us from violent crime.
Raj Bains, Federal Way