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Crime problem concerns town folks


A discussion about local crime revealed the level of concern many local people in Coulee Dam feel as minor property crimes increase.

“We have a serious problem with drugs,” Councilmember David Schmidt said, admitting at Wednesday’s town council meeting he was surprised by that.

Schmidt said he’d recently taken a house guest to a local tavern and was repeatedly approached by people there about the problem.

“This is becoming urgent, and we can’t just screw around with it,” Schmidt said.

Mayor Greg Wilder noted the town had just hired another police officer who will start Nov. 7.

“It’s not limited, by far, to just Coulee Dam,” Wilder said of the problem.

Councilmember Keith St. Jeor said he hears from people who feel their calls to police are being ignored.

At a similar meeting last month, the idea of a “block watch” organization started was raised, but some wondered Wednesday why nothing had been done on that.

Retired policeman Ed Bartley said he’d been working on a similar idea and would be giving the town a proposal for a community watch with a telephone number to call, similar to Spokane’s “Crime Check.”

He said information gathered that way can be used by police in establishing the necessary legal “probably cause” to get a search or arrest warrant.

“This would be a step in taking back control of the town,” he said.

Drug problems are often handled by inter-agency narcotics teams, but one man said Douglas County had recently been called about the problem, only to respond that the county didn’t have the resources to come to Coulee Dam.

The town’s budget for police will be at its limit for the first time in quite some time, but some were wondering if that’s going to be enough.

“There’s $300,000 worth of ideas that we don’t have the money to do,” St. Jeor said.

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