Mountlake Terrace Police Department leaders came before the Mountlake Terrace City Council Thursday night to provide an overview of 2022 activities and statistics as well as future goals. Among the highlights: The city is experiencing an increase in property crime, something that is being seen regionally and statewide.
Police Chief Pete Caw, Commander Scott King and Commander Mike Haynes made their presentation during the council’s work/study session Thursday. Caw noted that progress is being made in the state Legislature to address elements of police reform legislation passed a few years ago — notably related to vehicle pursuits and citing drug offenders– that police say have made their jobs more difficult.
“I’m glad to say that almost without exception, we’ve come to some agreements with the legislators and I for one am very satisfied with what they’ve done so far,” Caw said.
Highlights of the 2022 year-end report included:
Expanding the unmanned aerial vehicle program. The department added three new drones and three new pilots to the program. The drone program focuses on officer and public safety, with the use of “time, distance and shielding,” something that has been stressed as part of police reform legislation.
Refining the department’s embedded social worker program by selecting Officer Kyle O’Hagan to partner with the social worker. Since the position is shared with the City of Lynnwood, she is in Mountlake Terrace one day per week.
Launching the Cops and Clergy program, with quarterly meetings and training held.
Working to recruit and retain quality personnel. This is a challenge because the department has seen several retirements of veteran police officers. “I’ve probably hired more officers in the past couple of years than I’ve seen hired in the last 15,” Caw said. “It’s always refreshing to see new faces with new ideas.”
The department is also focused on succession planning and developing the next generation of department leaders, with officers Jeremy Perry and Megan Sheets promoted to sergeant and Scott King promoted to commander in 2022, Caw said. And he stressed his department’s commitment to diversity in hiring, adding that “there’s a lot of competition right now (for officers). ”
Commander Scott King noted that the department continues to utilize the Spidrtech platform. When someone calls 911, the system sends out a text to the caller and gives them a survey to fill out. The department receives daily emails from Spidrtech Tech with comments from community members “on how those calls went,” King said. “It allows us to…make things better when we have the opportunity to.”
Speaking to 2022 crime statistics, Commander Mike Haynes said that calls for service continue to trend upward. There was a dip in crime when people were staying at home during the COVID 19 pandemic in 2020 “but as we reacclimated to normal life the statistics rose,” Haynes said.
Many of the numbers are similar over the past three years — from 2020 through 2022 — “specifically the arrests,” he added.
In terms of property crimes, the number of vehicle and catalytic converter thefts “have increased significantly in the past couple of years,” Haynes said, adding “this is a regional problem, more so than just a City of Mountlake Terrace problem.”
“We continue to work to combat this trend through proactive patrol and community education, focusing on areas that are hit the hardest,” he said.
“Traffic education and enforcement is one of the patrol division’s top priorities,” Haynes said. About one in six traffic stops resulted in an infraction, reflecting the department’s emphasis on education, he added.
The department also responded to 425 domestic violence calls for service, with 176 of those resulting in criminal charges. Danielle Singson, the city’s domestic violence coordinator, works as an advocate for domestic violence victims.
Police department goals for 2023 include a continued focus on community-oriented policing and outreach; working collaboratively with regional law enforcement agencies; incorporating education and long-term solution strategies with enforcement; using code enforcement and animal control to help maintain a clean and inviting environment; and serving as regional leaders and set the example for modern policing as it relates to community expectations.
Looking ahead, Caw said he would like to have the embedded social worker working with the police full time, and has talked with Acting Assistant City Manager Stephen Clifton about enlarging the program. “I think it’s a good use of resources and we’ve certainly proved that program to be very worthwhile,” the police chief said.
During council questions, councilmembers expressed support for idea of trying to increase the hours for the embedded social worker. One possible funding source for an expanded program could be money coming from the state’s opioid settlement agreement. As part of that settlement, the three opioid distributors will pay the state a total of $518 million, which will be distributed to participating jurisdictions, payable over 17 years.
In other business, the council:
– Heard a presentation from Associate Planner Sara Pizzo regarding whether the city should try to annex additional unincorporated areas into Mountlake Terrace. The discussion was in response to questions raised when the city annexed a piece of property at the owners’ request so they could connect to the city’s sewer system.
One question asked, Pizzo said, was whether the council should attempt to annex the rest of the islands and unincorporated areas with Mountlake Terrace’s Urban Growth Area. Given the current and likely future zoning of the unincorporated parcels as single-family residential within that urban growth area, “the economic benefit of annexing these parcels is minimal,” Pizzo noted. In addition, annexation proceedings that are initiated by the city council either require an election or are subject to referendum, she explained, and in the past, property owners in unincorporated areas have had mixed views on annexation.
Councilmember Laura Sonmore said that while she appreciated the update, pursuing annexation “wouldn’t be a high priority on my list of items to do,” adding that planning staff “have enough to at this time.”
Mayor Kyoko Matsumoto Wright agreed, although stated she’s hopeful that eventually all of the unincorporated areas with the city’s urban growth area would become part of Mountlake Terrace.
– Agreed to include on the council’s Monday, April 17 consent agenda a declaration to surplus the city’s thermoplastic striping machine for laying traffic control markings, which has reached the end of its useful life. The estimated used value of this equipment is unknown. The original purchase price was $19,447 in 2011.
– Also agreed to place on the April 17 consent agenda a $25,000 contract extension for interim Public Works Director Phil Williams. Williams will continue to work part time through the end of May until the city hires a new public works director.
In addition, the council met the city’s new events coordinator, Andrew Appelwick. The position, approved as part of the 2023-24 budget, is funded with federal COVID recovery dollars the city received through the American Rescue Plan Act.
Prior to his appointment, Appelwick worked for four years in the city’s recreation and parks department as a support service coordinator. In introducing Appelwick to the council, Recreation and Parks Director Jeff Betz noted that he has significant events experience, including work on Mountlake Terrace’s Third of July celebration last year.
Appelwick’s job will be to coordinate and expand the city’s event offerings and be the point person for questions on events. He said he has spent the last few weeks meeting with community members and letting them know about his new role, and also preparing for major upcoming activities such as National Night Out, Third of July and the tree lighting.
To increase the number of volunteers at events, Appelwick said the city is working to add a volunteer interest form on its website. People can use the form to indicate the particular events they are interested in — parks cleanups, for example — and can be notified for opportunities that interest them.
The council will hold its next meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, April 17 in Mountlake Terrace City Hall, 23204 58th Ave. W., Mountlake Terrace. To attend a meeting online, visit zoom.us/join and enter meeting ID 897 2790 9105 and passcode: 98043. To listen via telephone, call 1-253-215-8782 and enter the same meeting ID and passcode.
You also can view livestreamed meetings and past video recordings at www.youtube.com/cityofmlt.
You can see the complete agenda here.
— By Teresa Wippel
re: the spidrtech platform
“When someone calls 911, the system sends out a text to the caller and gives them a survey to fill out.”
Not everyone texts!
Some people prefer actual voice
Also – some people have stationary, what are now referred to as “land line” phones; they may or may not text
I guess those people just don’t matter!
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