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Frustration with crime voiced at community watch meeting


Ed Bartley leads a discussion on community crime solutions among a group of 25 concerned citizens of the area Tuesday night. - Roger Lucas photo

People are frustrated with crime and feel powerless to do anything about it.

That was evident at Tuesday night's Community Watch meeting held at the Almira/Coulee Dam Community Church.

It was the second Community Watch meeting held in Coulee Dam in an effort to try to find a way to curb crime. About 25 people showed up for the meeting.

One thing decided on was to determine places to put up neighborhood crime watch signs. The next will be how to finance the cost of the signs. One woman said she was willing to put up $100 to help with the cost. Fred Netzel said he was willing to scout out the best places to put up "watch" signs.

The organizing will have to wait for another time.

Netzel said that the group should focus on Coulee Dam so efforts don't get too scattered.

The apparent frustration about crime occupied most of the meeting.

One woman suggested that since crime dogs are so expensive that officers could travel with a dog so it would appear that the town had trained dogs.

Another person asked Coulee Dam Police Chief Paul Bowden if it would be possible for local residents to drive around in a police car, without any authority, so it would appear that there were more officers on duty.

Moderator Ed Bartley had prepared names and phone numbers of elected officials at the county level so residents could call them and offer complaints.

Becky Billups, a Grand Coulee resident, said she had tried that and it didn't work.

It was asked what happened to the "three strikes and you're out" law. Chief Bowden said, "It's three strikes and they are out," meaning that criminals are being released too readily.

John Avey, an Electric City resident, stated that criminals had better not come to his place because "I would take care of it." Avey controlled the conversation until he was asked by Netzel to quiet down, and Avey abruptly left.

Carol Netzel told the group: "We need to figure out how to get together; it's been negative so far."

The first meeting of the group was in early December and came on the heels of a rash of burglaries and car prowls. Reports on these type of crimes has slowed down in recent weeks. Moderator Bartley said he didn't "know how much the meeting had slowed crime down, and maybe it was the weather."

Bartley summed it up when he stated: "We can make a difference, but it will take time."

It wasn't determined when the group will meet again.

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