Community outreach continues to be high priority for police, chief tells city council

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Mountlake Terrace Police Chief Greg Wilson, far right, presents Medals of Meritorious Service to his command staff during the Feb. 20 city council meeting. From left: Commander Mike Haynes, Deputy Chief Pete Caw and Commander Doug Hansen. (Photo courtesy City of Mountlake Terrace)

The Mountlake Terrace Police Department’s focus on community outreach, including officers’ ongoing work with those in need, was a main theme for the department’s annual report to the MLT City Council Feb. 20.

In his 2017 report, Police Chief Greg Wilson noted that the department had 16,297 calls for service that included 444 arrests, 2,916 traffic stops and 38 DUIs. But police staff attending the Feb. 20 meeting stressed that the department is moving away from emphasizing infractions, citations and arrests, and instead is working toward a focus on community-oriented policing.

The goal, said Commander Mike Haynes, is to establish communication and trust with the community.

 

Reviewing the city’s crime statistics in 2017, Commander Doug Hansen said that Mountlake Terrace is “continuing down the road with our low crime rate.” Violent crime “is really low for our city, which is something we are really proud of,” Hansen said.

He also noted that the traffic collision rate hasn’t changed much “even though there is increased traffic through the city.”

The department is emphasizing code enforcement, with the hiring of a second code enforcement officer, Mike Padgett. Continuing to put pressure on residences and businesses to maintain their properties is a key component of Mountlake Terrace’s efforts to bring in community and economic development, Wilson said. “People want to come into a city where it looks clean and well-maintained, and code enforcement is instrumental in achieving that,” Wilson said.

In his report on the department’s community outreach efforts, Commander Haynes said that officers now carry in their vehicles community outreach bags so they can provide basic food and non-food items and supplies to those who are homeless or otherwise in need.

This effort, funded primarily through community donations, “transforms potentially negative contacts into positive ones,” Haynes said.

The focus on community-oriented policing carries over into discussions at police supervisor meetings and is also incorporated into annual employee evaluations, Haynes said.

Police make it a priority to participate in a variety of community events, from the summer Tour de Terrace and 3rd of July celebrations to the Halloween Trunk or Treat and Holiday Tree Lighting, Haynes added. In addition, the department last year made community presentations on a range of topics — from fraud, to internet safety, to personal safety.

Following the year-end report, Wilson thanked his command staff for their support and leadership. “I cannot do this alone,” he said. “We would not be where we are today without your support, leadership and belief in our department’s mission to serve, support and defend.” Wilson then awarded Caw, Hansen and Haynes with Medals of Meritorious Service and certificates that recognized their “confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the capacity to listen to the needs of others. Your dedication and service to the department and the community is commendable and worthy of recognition.”

At the end of Wilson’s presentation, councilmembers complimented the chief and his staff on a job well done.

“I know that I can go to bed every night knowing that I am safe in Mountlake Terrace,” Councilmember Doug McCardle said.

In other action Feb. 20, the council heard some good news from City Manager Scott Hugill. For starters, Stephen Clifton has been hired as the assistant city manager and will be focused on a range of issues, including the new Civic Campus approved by voters last year, Ballinger Park and overall economic development. Clifton will also work with Sound Transit on the implementation of light rail through Mountlake Terrace, Hugill said. Clifton previously worked for the cities of Federal Way and Edmonds, and for Snohomish County.

Hugill also reported the the Washington State Legislature has proposed a budget that includes $500,000 for Ballinger Park development and $500,000 for phase 2 of the city’s Main Street Project.

And speaking of the Civic Campus project, Hugill told the council that a panel of 11 staff members interviewed three architectural firms who submitted design proposals. Those proposals will be delivered to the council for review during its work/study session this Thursday, March 1.

The council also at its Feb. 20 meeting held a public hearing regarding creation of a separate residential zoning district for transitional use areas near the Town Center. The  public hearing was continued to March 19, at which time the council will consider adoption.

— By Teresa Wippel

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