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People meet for a "community watch" start


In a spirit of concern and cooperation, Coulee Dam had its first “Community Watch” meeting last Tuesday night.

About 45 people turned out at the old stone church in Coulee Dam, to discuss the rash of burglaries and car prowls that have occurred in the town and region in recent months.

And there’s more to come, with a second and more detailed meeting set for sometime in January.

Leading the discussion was Ed Bartley, a retired police officer, with some 50 years in law enforcement, who helped prepare material about community watch efforts and to get the meeting started.

Bartley pointed out that neighborhood watch skills largely involve using your “eyes and ears” and knowing when and how to report on suspicious happenings in your neighborhood.

Mark Igo, one of Coulee Dam residents who helped promote the meeting, and a former law enforcement officer for the National Park Service, said over the weekend that “there will be more specifics at the next meeting.”

At the January meeting, ways to get organized will be one of the major topics.

Bartley said when reporting an event, people should be specific on “the physical, time of day, day of week. If there were people involved, what did they look like, what were they wearing? If a car was involved, what was the make and color?”

Good observations are a key to a good community watch.

Bartley also pointed out that being the “eyes and ears” in the community is the best way to assist police in combating crime. Police officers from the Colville Tribes, Grand Coulee and Coulee Dam were at the event and provided information when asked.

“If something seems uncomfortable, or out of place, report it,” Bartley stated.

He continued to say that community members should report incidents but never take action; leave that to police.

One person brought up alleged drug houses in the town. “You can take pictures of cars, their licenses, but never enter private property to do that,” Bartley said. “They will throw that out every time.”

Good deadbolt locks at entry points to your house, alarm systems, outdoor lighting and trimming shrubs so people can’t hide near your entry area all are ways to protect your personal property.

“Don’t leave your keys in unlocked cars, and if you have valuable in your vehicle, lock them in the trunk.” Bartley advised.

He stated that many crimes are not reported because homeowners think they are too small of a loss.

“Record serial numbers, make, model, color and any other identifying features that may help police in recovering items stolen,” Bartley said.

Another thing, he stated, is to use tracking numbers to make sure you are home when packages are delivered, particularly this time of year.

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