By Andy Hwang, Federal Way Police Chief
As we enter the holiday season together, I am inclined to reach out to the people of Federal Way. I am in the privileged position of speaking for the entire Federal Way Police Department, dutiful men and women who provide essential services to make this city better. I hope you already know this, but sometimes it should be said out loud, and this is a good season for that: It is our pleasure to serve and protect you.
This is a time for family, friends, and other loved ones to enjoy time with one another peacefully. Unfortunately, this season, there will be unsavory individuals seeking to take advantage of unsuspecting victims, and there will be increased traffic accidents due to poor weather conditions and more people being on the roadway. This calls for some safety reminders always to pay attention to your surroundings and avoid distracted driving.
To increase safety, we will deploy 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 for shopper safety. We will continue partnering with other large and small retail businesses, working closely with loss prevention and store security officers.
We will deploy Automated License Plate Readers on some of our patrol vehicles. The system scans license plate numbers as officers patrol their sectors, comparing thousands of plates with state and national crime databases. When the system detects a stolen car, it notifies the officer. Stolen vehicles are commonly used for organized retail shoplifting and other crimes, and this technology can assist officers in preventing crime before it occurs.
The police department will deploy Mobile Surveillance Trailers (MST) to impact and reduce criminal activity in the city. These high-visibility cameras are linked to our Safe City monitoring system. We will deploy the MSTs during the holiday season at various locations to deter crime and support our business community. Mayor Ferrell and the Council recently approved the purchase of additional MSTs due to the high demand from the business community.
We continue expanding the Safe City Camera Program, which is unique to Federal Way. We expanded the number of surveillance cameras throughout our city to more than 460 views. This technology helps us reduce and solve crimes in our community.
Given all of the media attention, people tend to be hyper-focused on personal safety related to crimes of violence. However, traffic collisions are the greatest threat to you and your family year-round. Traffic accidents are random and injure far more law-abiding people than any crime. Our officers spend significant time responding to vehicle accidents and other traffic matters during the holiday season due to weather and poor driving conditions. Please remind your family members, particularly teenagers, to drive safely. Doing otherwise sooner or later has serious, life-altering consequences.
We are proud to be part of this community. We commit to providing the people of Federal Way with the highest level of police service possible. We work toward strengthening our relationships with the stakeholders in our community.
We wish you and your loved ones a happy and safe holiday season. It is an honor for us to serve you!