Northwest NEWS

May 17, 1999

Local News

Residents give Sheriff's Department high marks

by Marshall Haley, staff reporter

   Woodinville citizens give the King County Sheriff's Department high marks, compared to most of unincorporated King County and cities that contract with the department.

   The September 1998 survey of 1,200 King County residents tried to determine how citizens feel about their sense of security, the quality of police response, crime prevention, and apprehension of offenders. Other surveyed areas included Burien, Covington, Kenmore, Maple Valley, North Bend, North Highline, Sammamish, SeaTac, Shoreline, Vashon Island, and West Hill.

   Eighty percent feel very safe walking alone in their neighborhoods during the day in Woodinville. But only 50 percent feel safe walking the same streets at night, compared to almost 70 percent in other contract cities.

   Only 46 percent of Woodinville residents surveyed had had any interaction with police in the previous year, but most said they felt police were generally courteous, honest, ethical, and fair. Most also said police show concern when asked questions. Forty-one percent found police intimidating.

   Woodinville's respondents also scored higher than other areas in rating quality of response by police. About 70 percent of Woodinville feels the overall response quality is good to excellent.

   The 20 percent who felt crime increased in 1998 from 1997 were better guessers than the 69 percent who felt it stayed the same. Over 80 percent disagreed that only police could control crime; most felt police need more citizen help. Suggestions for citizen help included establishing more block watches, having more school programs on crime prevention, establishing citizen advisory boards, and maintaining better communication.

   Woodinville's top ten crime concerns were, in descending order: burglary, gang activity, violent crime, drug dealing, vandalism, illegal drug labs, assault, domestic violence, computer crime, and car break-ins.

   Woodinville police chief Ken Wardstrom pointed out that those concerns are based on what people don't want to see in this area, more than on the present level of crimes in each category. For example, there is very little gang activity, violent crime, or drug dealing in Woodinville, compared to domestic violence and car break-ins, which are lower on the list of citizen concerns, he said.

   Wardstrom said his department is responding to the survey by actively encouraging increased block watches in residential and commercial areas; establishing a system whereby officers call back victims and complainants with updates on police action taken for their case; increasing officer involvement in schools by having officers drop by schools at logical times to interact with students and staff; utilizing more bike patrols; and providing more bike training for officers.