Public Safety and Community Frustration

Public Safety and Community Frustration

Close up of the red and blue lights atop a police carAs I sit in my office, I am listening the sounds of emergency sirens (for the second time this morning) and wondering what they are responding to. I have seen the posts on Facebook, read articles in the newspaper and seen the highlights on TV: Increased public dumping and vandalism, increased arsons, increased car thefts, increased shootings, INCREASED!

I sadly do not have an instantaneous fix to any of the above items, but I do have an ask of the community: Please do not give up hope and continue to report incidents as they happen.

One recent theme I’ve heard from people is a strong feeling of frustration because nothing happens. There are many factors into why public safety services look and feel different these days, but not reporting crimes will not help us as we move forward. That is what this post is all about.

In Pierce County no matter what jurisdiction you find yourself in, you can report crimes through a variety of channels. If there is an active crime in progress, especially if it is a dangerous situation please call or text 911! That has not changed and will not change. Operators are trained to work with law enforcement agencies across the county to do their best to get the appropriate help to that location. We have agreements between agencies that cross borders, so call and let them figure that part out.

For the crimes you discover after the fact, like finding out your car was broken into, public dumping or mail theft/box vandalism, please report it. It is likely that an officer will not show up to take the report, but you can file the report over the phone or online. And I am truly asking that you do so.

Multi-colored pie chart showing generic percentages that add up to 100 percentWe collect a lot of data in the county for many reasons, but each police report is part of a record that can help law enforcement collect evidence, track patterns and help return stolen property. I recently asked for a report on the number of catalytic converter thefts reported in unincorporated Pierce County. Based on complaints I was seeing and hearing, the numbers presented in that report seemed low. Further conversations lead to a conclusion that some people are not reporting the crime.

Our sheriff’s department uses the data from reported crimes and frequency of calls to create patrol plans for officers on duty. Those calls and raised concerns help them figure out where to be and when. But when they are not getting the best possible data, they can’t come up with the best possible use of personnel.

Here are some suggestions for what you can do (save this!):

  • Emergency (or you think it is an emergency): Call 911
  • Non-Emergency (reporting property crimes, or crimes not in progress): Call the non-emergency number 253-287-4455

Reporting crimes online is always an option as well, but it depends on where you live.

In a nutshell, there are lots of ways to report issues or concerns. You do not need to be the expert and if you are not sure, calling 911 will give you trained experts to get you hooked up with the best way to get connected. The data really is important, and you never know if something you are seeing or something that has happened is part of a pattern. For some things we know five years ago an officer would have shown up at your location. Today, between COVID, officer shortages and changes in legislation, they might not. But that does not mean it cannot be reported.

We are in this together and as cases go down, the severity of the impacts that the new variants are having on health decrease and we have broader access to testing, things will get better. It is just taking a lot longer than ANY of us predicted around March of 2020.

Take care,

CM Hitchen first name signature