Making Federal Way safer

We are deploying extra holiday patrols at various business areas throughout the city.

  • Friday, December 13, 2019 9:30am
  • Opinion

By Andy Hwang

Federal Way Chief of Police

As we enter the holiday season together, I’d like to shed some light on the last few months and where we are as a community moving forward. Working together we can keep Federal Way a safe place to live, work or visit.

While we have our challenges here in Federal Way, we have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. We at the police department are especially grateful we have an entire community, a mayor and a City Council that are supportive of the work that we do.

With the dramatic increase in digital information-sharing and social platforms for mass communication, people are inundated with and exposed to more stories of crime and violence than ever before.

For some, this fosters a belief that violent crime is more rampant today than it was more than a decade ago. Historical reports show that the murder rate today is still less than periods in the 1980s and ‘90s when our nation grappled with the crack-cocaine epidemic. Unfortunately, our nation is experiencing another drug crisis, an opioid epidemic, which drives much of the crime today and underscores other social challenges.

First off, I’d like share with you the latest crime statistics for Federal Way, which reveal a dramatic drop in violent crimes for the first 10 months of 2019. With this trend we are projecting to reach one of the lowest crime rates in recent years for our city.

Crime across the board declined 9% compared to the same period last year. Crime fell on a number of property and violent crimes, resulting in significant decreases in residential burglaries, down to 33%; robbery down 31%; aggravated assault dropped 24%; and car theft is down 20%. These are crimes that have a direct impact on victims’ quality of life and comfortability in their community.

This year and last we had one murder, which is much lower than we typically average.

These numbers represent the lowest crime rate since Federal Way transitioned from the old Uniform Crime Reports system to the National Incident-Based Reporting System in 2012.

There has been much progress made over the past three years to address crime and quality-of-life issues in our community and our work continues. At the end of 2019 we expect to see a reduction in overall crime for three consecutive years and five out of the past six years. Crime numbers fluctuate for various reasons. However, our strategic approach to constantly assess and adjust our policing model to maximize public safety has a positive impact in Federal Way.

Federal Way’s downward trend in crime is not by accident. The Federal Way Police Department is a data-driven agency. We analyze updated crime data to focus officers on hot spots — maximizing our public safety efficiency and our impact. We regularly conduct warrant sweeps going after Federal Way’s worst offenders. We partner with the city’s code enforcement officers and city attorney’s office to mitigate chronic problems in residential spaces. We seek to abate homes involved in illegal drug trafficking and/or which are frequented by members of criminal street gangs.

We continue expanding the SafeCity program, which is somewhat unique to Federal Way. We expanded the number of surveillance cameras throughout our city to more than 200. With a $250,000 legislative grant, we enhanced our Incident Command room with a new wall of video monitoring equipment. This technology helps us reduce and solve crimes.

We do not tolerate any crime in our community!

Given all of the media attention, people tend to be hyper-focused on personal safety related to crimes of violence. It is also important to address our efforts when it comes to fighting common misdemeanor crime that affects our community on a basic level. Retail theft leaves an indelible mark on businesses and those who shop in Federal Way.

We are deploying extra holiday patrols at various business areas throughout the city. These patrols are in addition to regularly assigned patrol officers. We partner with The Commons management, assigning three officers full-time to patrol the mall and surrounding property, which reduces crime and increases shopper safety. We partner with Fred Meyer to strategically place officers at the Twin Lakes store during the holiday season. We will continue partnering with other large and small retail businesses. We work in close partnership with loss prevention and store security officers to mitigate and prevent shoplifting.

We are doing everything we can to make our city safer. We have a Special Operations Team of officers who handle transient-related incidents. Our officers work with private landowners and our city’s code enforcement officers to dismantle illegal encampments.

Most importantly, a close relationship between the police department and the community is absolutely essential to our success. The dedicated police professionals who are responsible for helping our community thrive are fully aware of this requirement. We commit to seek ways to continually improve the safety of all those who call Federal Way home. We commit to provide the people of Federal Way with the highest level of police service possible. We work toward strengthening our relationships with all people and stakeholders in our community.

I am very proud of our department members, supervisors and command staff for their hard work and performance that has led to these positive numbers to date.

We wish you and your loved ones a happy and safe holiday season. It is an honor for us to serve you!

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