The back room at Billy McHale’s was at capacity with residents wanting to learn more about the police resources available to them and the best ways to handle certain situations during the Federal Way neighborhood safety meeting on Jan. 17.
It was a relaxed evening, with everyone ordering food and drinks and concerned residents asking questions about Federal Way Police Department’s protocols.
The goal of the meeting was to give residents tools they could use for different types of crime prevention, such as burglar prevention, car theft prevention, and when to call 911.
To start the evening, FWPD crime analyst Michelle Roy spoke about the importance of calling 911 to report suspicious activity. Commander Chris Norman and Special Operations Unit Officer Josh Haglan were also there to answer questions.
“You know what’s normal in your neighborhood,” she said.
This is especially important as FWPD is a data-driven agency, Roy said, so calling in any potential criminal activity residents see helps the department paint a more accurate picture of crime statistics in the city.
“We need to know where things are happening,” she said.
Roy said there are multiple avenues for reporting crimes as well. For instance, if you do not feel calling 911 is necessary, you can also call the non-emergency police number, 253-835-2121 or you can file a report online.
One resident asked the best way to handle abandoned vehicles, as he’s reported one near his home and hasn’t seen any action taken on it.
Haglan said it can be tricky at times removing abandoned vehicles because protocol requires officers to leave a notice on the vehicle so the owners have a chance to move it before it’s towed. Because of this, if the vehicle is moved even a small amount, the process has to be started over.
During the meeting, the police representatives talked about the crime statistics in Federal Way from 2017 to 2018 as well as tips on reporting different suspicious or criminal activity.
Crime prevention strategies were also a big topic of the night.
All those in attendance got a paper that disseminated crime statistics for the city, showcasing what crime rates increased, decreased or stayed the same. According to the top of the list, murder rates decreased by 86 percent with seven murders being reported in 2017 and one in 2018.
Robbery in the city has increased by 38 percent from 170 in 2017 to 234 in 2018, and commercial burglary has also increased by 10 percent.
Reports of arson have increased by 40 percent, but calls of human trafficking are down 100 percent, according to the most current data.
Overall, the data report showed a decrease in reported crimes by 11 percent.
Later in the meeting, Norman spoke about how to recognize different types of criminal activity in your neighborhood, as well as police reponse to gang activity and potential criminal activity for youth and schools.
For the most part, residents who attended the meeting seemed to learn a lot and appreciated the officer’s time in helping to address their concerns.
Cheryl Hurst, an active Federal Way resident, said she thought the event was great, but was hoping to see solutions to some of the issues brought up during the meeting. Some residents enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about how their local police department functions.
Darol Hinton said he appreciated FWPD for clarifying how they deal with the homeless encampment issue and what residents should do if they come across one.