Edmonds PD: ‘Service Before Self’ | City Corner

By Al Compaan | Aug 02, 2018
Al Compaan

Thinking about the many ongoing activities of our Police Department and our tremendous group of employees, two endeavors in particular are timely and of special interest. You will hear from two of our officers as they exemplify our EPD mission of "Service Before Self."

Officer Ashley Saunders, one of our newer officers, graduated Basic Law Enforcement Academy last summer. She recently investigated her first sexual assault. The victim was feeling vulnerable, violated and not sure about reporting to police.

Officer Saunders did a fine job with the investigation, helping the victim find strength and courage along the way, and ensuring aftercare resources.

Wanting to do more for other victims of sexual assault and abuse, Saunders contacted a friend from her Michigan high school, Kayla Spicher. Kayla, 23, is a survivor of sexual assault by a now-convicted and imprisoned ex-USA gymnastics doctor.

Victimized as a young gymnast, she spoke at his sentencing and has continued to speak out for all victims of sexual assault. Last month, Kayla joined 140 other survivors of abuse as they received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at ESPN's annual Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards.

Due to Saunders' efforts, a community conversation on sexual assault and abuse is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, August 8, at Westgate Chapel, 22901 Edmonds Way.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with an opportunity for the public to provide written, anonymous, questions for our panel. There is no cost to attend, and all are welcome.

In their own words, we will hear from survivor Kayla Spicher; Providence porensic nurse Lori Moore; Edmonds Police Detective Stacie Trykar; Edmonds Police Domestic Violence Coordinator Jill Schick; Dawson Place victim advocate Minda Phillips; and Saunders.

Amity Addrisi of KING-5 News, herself a survivor of sexual abuse, will moderate the event and share her own story.

Our goals?

To help remove the veil from this all-too-often taboo subject, to increase education and awareness, and to empower victims. A meet-and-greet among panel and audience will conclude the evening, along with an opportunity for learning some self-defense tips and tactics. Snacks and refreshments will be provided, courtesy of Costco and PCC Community Markets.

The Edmonds Police Foundation assisted financially.

Our message: It is important for any victim to know that sexual abuse is not OK, occurring all too often at the hands of family members or others known to the victim; it's OK to take control and to report it; and that our community cares and can provide support for those feeling vulnerable and violated.

Oftentimes the first step is gathering courage to tell someone. Please come to our Community Conversation to find out more.

On another topic, very soon starts the school year. With it comes a new assignment for Officer Tom Smith as school resource officer at Edmonds-Woodway High School. For him though, it's not all that new, having previously served there as SRO for six years. Unfortunately, the recession ended funding for the program. Now with the city-school district 50/50 cost-share model back in place, I sat down with him to discuss this exciting opportunity.

"The basics never changed,” Smith told me. “It's about connections with kids, parents, school staff, and the community. With relationships, the opportunity to be "there" puts us miles ahead. No way to put a value on that."

He will again maintain an office at EWHS. He will be on campus during school hours, in the halls, at lunch, at sporting and other special events, again becoming part of the daily fabric at EWHS.

"Early intervention," he says, "is key."

"Being involved with the kids, empowering them to be a positive influence, helping them to forge interpersonal relationships with one another, and assisting with structure and guidance on campus. These are all my goals."

Smith added, "I see a lot of low level, risky behavior. Whether it's alcohol, marijuana, bad driving, even jaywalking – it's a lot of the little stuff that if kids understand the boundaries, I can help instill more sense of responsibility."

Thinking back on his successes, Smith told the story about a student who had chronic truancy problems and who did not live too far from school. "I would sometimes show up right at the kid's front door. I was all over him," he said. "Nothing like a good heart-to-heart talk. I told him if he graduated, I'd give him a brand new $50 dollar bill".

It apparently got to the point where the kid constantly reminded Smith of this agreement. What finally happened?

"He graduated, and I gave him that brand new $50 dollar bill. The kid thanked me, and he enlisted in the Navy. All he needed was a little structure."

Smith said it is particularly rewarding to see kids come in as freshmen, graduate four years later, and see them become productive members of the community. "It's just neat," he says, "watching them go along that path called life."

In addition to Smith's assignment at EWHS, the school district has approached our Police Department about placing a second SRO – this one at Scriber Lake High School in Edmonds for fall 2019. We strongly support this additional partnership with the school district, and will be asking our City Council for funding.

From my standpoint, SROs are a terrific investment in our kids. I trust you will agree!

Al Compaan is police chief of Edmonds.


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