Helping keep Federal Way safe

Federal Way Police Department’s Michelle Roy has keen eye for crime data.

Michelle Roy is fascinated by numbers. Specifically, numbers that may indicate crime increases in certain areas.

For 24 years, Roy has been working for the Federal Way Police Department, and her interest and passion for law enforcement has only grown over that time.

“I really like working with data, so it’s just nice to know that based on information I see or receive I can help maybe provide a link to a crime or a lead,” said Roy, who is the Mirror’s Citizen of the Month for February.

In 1996, Roy was living in what is now Club Palisades and working in Bellevue as an assistant manager for a finance company, making $21,600 a year.

When she saw some job openings at the Federal Way Police Department, she knew she had to jump on it.

“I was hired right then as a records specialist,” she said, working in that position for about two to three years before moving on to an administrative assistant position with the Detectives Unit, which was lead at the time by now Police Chief Andy Hwang.

Roy started thinking about what her future held; she had always been interested in law enforcement, so she decided to get her paralegal certificate from Highline College, and was later offered a position with the city’s law department.

Upon hearing this, however, the police chief at the time, Brian Wilson, told Roy what a valued employee she was, and asked if there was anything they could do to get her to stay.

“I said, ‘Well, I’d like to be a crime analyst.’”

After that, Wilson made sure Roy was able to attend different trainings for crime analysis, which helped her get hired into her current role with FWPD.

“A lot of loyalty comes out of that, when they say ‘We like you, we want to keep you, what can we do?’ And they follow through on their promises,” she said.

For Roy, the best part about her job is how much data there is to analyze when it comes to crime in the city.

While it’s not enjoyable for anyone in the department when crime does happen, Roy enjoys the opportunity to take a closer look at crime statistics and try to help address major crime areas.

“There’s never a dull moment, that’s for sure.”

Roy does a lot of work in the community for businesses, setting up presentations about safety. A lot of her presentations revolve around gun safety and what to do in instances of active shooters.

She gets a lot of requests for these kinds of presentations especially after shootings happen around the country, but Roy says she enjoys the chance to communicate with the public and teach them safety procedures for their homes, businesses and social lives.

Some of the biggest challenges she sees in her career come from the actual act of crime prevention. While she spends most of her time analyzing crime data and trying to pinpoint hot spot areas, predicting crime is near impossible.

“Just predicting crime is the hardest, especially nowadays with social media.”

Since Roy handles a lot of the social media for the department, she sees firsthand how media coverage and social media can have a negative effect on community perception of crime numbers. Crimes need to be reported, she said, but the constant barrage of breaking news can make crime seem more prevalent than it is.

“It’s hard to communicate that crime is down when crime is reported on so much,” she said.

Another issue she runs into with social media is perception issues.

“We try to put out positive stories about the police department … so I may put out something about, maybe we got free doughnuts, and then we’ll get comments like, ‘You need to put down the doughnut and go solve my crime,’” she laughed.

It’s all about taking things in stride, she said. It’s important to understand where people are coming from and communicating with them as effectively as possible.

Overall, Roy loves being a crime analyst and helping out the community, even in small ways.

Roy thinks back on all the different times her position was able to help people, like the time a developmentally disabled man was kidnapped when a carjacker stole the car he was waiting in. She put the information out on social media as soon as she could, and celebrated when he was found safe in Seattle.

“My part was small,” she said, but she was happy to have been a part of a heartwarming story like that. Out of her 24 years with FWPD, Roy wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.

“I like that our organization puts the people first. The work-life balance is great.”

Roy said that everyone in the department, including the police chief and all the deputy chiefs, are great at putting staff and community members first and trying to relate to everyone’s situation.

“The department tries to do good and help their employees,” she said.

Hwang said he is thankful that Roy joined the FWPD family 23 years ago.

“Michelle’s positive approach to her work exceeds expectations,” he said. “Michelle operates with the highest level of professionalism and integrity.”

With everything Roy does for the department, including crime analysis projects for FWPD and the King County region as well as managing the Safe Cities board, he said she goes above and beyond for the people of Federal Way to have a positive impact on crime reduction.

“She is a tremendous asset to our organization and to the people of Federal Way,” Hwang said.