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Concerned about crime in our community and want change? Get involved!

 


At some recent town council meetings, some Coulee Dam citizens expressed a desire to help stem crime in their community by forming a “Block Watch” program. I was asked to head this endeavor as I had worked with similar programs in Spokane and Renton, Washington, as well as helped start Yakima County’s 911 program.

These programs are normally aimed at larger communities, although the basic ideas can be incorporated in our small community. If you are concerned with what is going on in our community, if you want to know how you can help protect yourself and your property, or if you want to have better communication with your police department, then your presence is requested at a meeting Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 6 p.m. for a startup meeting. Location will be at the Coulee Dam “Stone Church,” which is now the Coulee Dam campus of the Almira Community Church. We want to hear from the community about your concerns and what you think can be done. We want your input and ideas. We just want an hour or two of your time to explain what we are trying to do and to hear from you.

We will share with everyone our thoughts as to what will and will not work in our community. We will also try to clear up some misconceptions about what the police department can and cannot do. Hopefully Chief Hall will be available to answer any questions and help discuss public misconceptions of small-town police issues.

By the time of this meeting, we hope to have a dedicated phone number that will be available for citizens to report suspicious activity. We will be requesting input from you, the citizens of the community, on how you want this phone system to work. We want communication to go both ways. It must be understood that this phone number is only for suspicious activity; if you have an emergency or need immediate contact with the police you will need to call 911.

What makes a Community Watch Program work is the willingness of our citizens to report suspicious activity, such as subjects walking or driving around our block that appear to be up to no good, cars that come and go at all hours or appear to be snooping around the neighborhood. Our police cannot be everywhere, so you can be of help by being their eyes and ears. If you see or hear something, report it.

A major part of these programs is education. We can learn such things as how to describe people, cars … what you see and hear. We also want to share what you can do to protect yourself and your property. This can be accomplished by meetings, social media or both.

Sadly, our community is not what it was 50 years ago, or even 20 or 30 years ago. We can no longer leave our cars and houses unlocked. But, we can make it a lot better than it is now. All it will take is the community to work together.

I was first introduced to this community 50 years ago when I met my future wife at a community dance. We now call this community our home and want to be involved. I am looking forward to meeting you all at this meeting and thank you for sharing a couple of hours with me there.

Ed Bartley

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