For the past three years the Seattle Police Department's South Precinct has been without a community newsletter. According to the precinct's crime prevention coordinator, officer Mark Solomon, the last written update issued from the station was a quarterly newsletter back in 2002. However, with the spike in strong-arm robberies that began piercing the South End's neighborhoods more than six months ago, Captain Tom Byers and Lieutenant James Koutsky decided it was time to reprioritize their methods of community outreach.
"We heard several things from the community loud and clear about that strong-arm trend," Byers observed. "They don't feel they're getting informed when the trends are occurring, and they're right, to a point."
In addition to periodically going to the press with the department's permission about criminal actions, Byers and his officers decided to release a brief e-mail newsletter every other week to interested South End residents.
"With our limited resources there's only so much we can do," Byers asserted. "We felt [the e-mail newsletter] is probably the most effective and efficient way of getting info out."
In addition to wanting to give Southeast Seattle residents updates on crime trends, Byers noted that the newsletter will also regularly feature crime prevention tips. With the rash of strong-arm robberies rising and falling around the neighborhoods, Byers noted that several different community members requested specific, practical information on how to avoid being on the losing end of a crime.
"It's just those constant, little reminders of how you can prevent yourself from becoming a victim," asserted Byers.
As an example, Byers turned to the area's soon-to- arrive warm weather. As the temperatures rise, the captain warned people about helping to prevent being burgled by leaving their windows and doors closed when they're gone for the day. He also cautioned against people leaving only their front screen doors closed while working outside in their backyards, a situation that has often resulted in a burglarized home.
However, Byers' favorite warning, one that he promised will often pop up in the newsletter, concerns people leaving valuables in their vehicles.
"We still have people leaving laptops right on their front seat," Byers observed. "It's just like saying, 'come on and break in.'"
Along with crime updates and prevention tips, the newsletter also will feature updates on the South Precinct's operations. In the mid-March edition, an overview of the reasoning and results behind the station's partnering of Washington Department of Corrections officers with South Precinct cops was briefly explained.
"It's a work in progress. We're open to what people want on it," noted Byers, adding, "It has to be very succinct and serve our purpose to help the community."
Officer Mark Solomon releases the South Precinct's e-mail newsletter every other Wednesday. To get on the electronic mailing list, contact Solomon with your request at email@example.com.[[In-content Ad]]