Chatting with cops: Initiative seeks public comment

Complaints and compliments accepted
By Marie Haaland | Aug 31, 2017

Got a complaint for Edmonds police? A compliment?

Phone calls and emails can work, but there’s an option for those wanting face-to-face contact: The Edmonds Police Department, in what it’s calling a public-outreach initiative, wants to hear your comments at a new event series called Police Chatter: Conversations and Coffee with the Edmonds Police Department.

The first was May 31 at Canarino Gelato on Fifth Avenue South and the second Aug. 23 at Bistro 76 in Perrinville.

The Edmonds Chamber of Commerce is the sponsor, providing free coffee at each meeting, meant as a relaxed Q&A with officers.

“We’re pretty good about getting out as much as we can, and we think we’re pretty approachable – at least that’s our goal,” said Sgt. Shane Hawley, the department’s public information officer.

Hawley said officers typically field questions about traffic and, naturally, speeding.

“We always get traffic concerns, that’s standard,” he said. “We get it. It’s your neighborhood, there’s kids out and you want people to slow down.”

Hawley is able to point to good news in the department’s 2016 annual report, showing that traffic collisions, traffic-related fatalities and traffic citations and infractions all increased marginally between 2015 and 2016. The number of DUI arrests decreased slightly.

At the Perrinville session, there were questions regarding burglaries and car prowls, what Hawley described as “quality of life” calls.

“Those are things where you feel violated, people got into your stuff,” he said. “We like to keep people up to date with what’s happening with burglaries.”

The annual report shows that the number of burglaries decreased between 2015 and 2016, from 209 to 162. This is a continued drop from 2014. Still, they are numbers that have citizens concerned and asking questions, Hawley said.

At Bistro 76, a resident asked what citizens could do to help and support the police department. Hawley said it comes down to making sure officers know what’s going on in the community.

“People are good about talking to their neighbors about what’s going on and that’s great, but if we don’t know about it, there’s nothing we can do about it until something’s already happened.”

Social-media websites such as Nextdoor and Facebook allow users to inform neighbors of issues affecting them, but police officers need to know about serious situations.

“If it’s important enough for you to let your neighbors know,” Hawley said, “it’s important enough to let us know.”

Hawley said the most surprising question he’s heard concerned older officers.

“We have a lot of retirements coming up in the next few years; we have a very tenured staff,” he said.

The questioner asked how the department planned to replace the amount of knowledge the retiring officers have. Hawley answered by discussing the recent hires and how the department has brought on seasoned officers from other agencies.

Hawley said the department aims to be approachable. It wants people to feel comfortable saying “hello” and bringing their concerns to officers.

About a dozen people showed up to the second event, which Hawley said was less than the first, but he attributed this to summer schedules and the location away from downtown.

“We were happy we were able to meet with people,” he said. “That was the whole point, to meet up with folks.”

The police department plans to continue holding Police Chatter events every few months or so in different areas of Edmonds. It is currently working with the chamber to plan the next one.

 

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