KP Citizens Against Crime Transitions to Public Safety

Now a part of the Key Peninsula Community Council, the group has big plans for the community.


The Key Peninsula Citizens Against Crime has transformed from a standalone group to a committee of the Key Peninsula Community Council, and it has a new name — the Public Safety Committee.

“The focus will be less on crime and more on building community,” said Chair Melody Williams, who moved with her husband to a 40-acre property near Lake of the Woods a few years ago. Their first goal is to organize the KP’s first National Night Out.

Because of her interest in crime prevention, one of the first things Williams did when she moved was to call the Gig Harbor Police Department. When she learned it did not cover her property — her address is listed as Gig Harbor — she searched local social media, found Citizens Against Crime, and joined.

Founded in 1988, CAC had lost membership in recent years and members began to talk about rebranding and shifting their emphasis. (See, “Citizens Against Crime: Eyes and Ears for the Pierce County Sheriff Since 1988,” October 2015).

“ ‘Public Safety Committee’ is a terminology that people are used to seeing no matter what city or county you are in," Willams said. “The group immediately let me come in and embraced what I was passionate about. Those members are still involved and excited.”

As CAC discussed its plans, the community council was considering adding public safety as a focus in part because Safe Streets closed its office on the Key Peninsula. Williams met with council president Kathy Lyons and agreed to join the council and chair the new committee.

Williams has a long history of working in community crime prevention. During the first six months of her first job in the banking industry, the bank was robbed six times and off-duty officers were hired for security. “I hung out with cops and was introduced to that world. Both of my parents volunteered for the Lakewood Police Department when they retired. They brought National Night Out to Lakewood.”

Williams joined the University Place Public Safety Committee about 20 years ago and served as chair for much of that time. The group worked closely with the police, fire department, schools, and seniors.

The Public Safety Committee is working closely with Pierce County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Nathan Betts, who has been with the Peninsula Detachment for six years and served as an investigator for the last three.

Williams has a big vision. She hopes to connect and coordinate with all the neighborhood watch groups and to think about safety in a broader context than just crime. For example, she said, communities can identify who has a chainsaw if a tree blocks a driveway or who has a generator and can refrigerate medications if there is a long power outage.

“Our flagship activity will be National Night Out,” Williams said. The program was established in 1984 as “an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live.”

National Night Out is held on the first Tuesday of August each year. Gatherings can range from getting together to joining in a potluck with games. “It can be anything," Williams said. She hopes that service providers such as law enforcement and fire department personnel will participate.

Williams also hopes to add members to the new committee, which meets monthly. She follows several Facebook pages to stay in touch with community input about crime and welcomes feedback.

“My biggest shout from the rooftop is report, report, report,” she said when asked about responding to crime on the Key Peninsula. “I am still a homeowner and taxpayer first. People know that the cops can’t quickly respond to most calls. As great as Deputy Betts is, and the team, we are on the outskirts. And until we bring attention to the problem, they can’t bring out the resources.”

“There are a lot fewer notes about incidents on social media recently,” Betts said when he spoke with the KP News in October. “And many of those posts are about incidents that are not reported, about people wanting to increase awareness or vent.”

Peninsula Detachment Sgt. Brian Ward said that at least two deputies are working each of four shifts each day, one covering Gig Harbor and one covering the Key Peninsula. “Deputies get to know each other and the community,” Ward said.

“They can take a little more time digging into what is going on in the neighborhood with the family and that kind of thing because the calls aren’t coming in immediately, all stacked up. There is more personal law enforcement.”

“Here you get more community-based experience,” Betts said. “You can figure out how to help families, bring in more services. In other detachments, you may not have the time to do that work.”

The Public Safety Committee meets on the third Thursday of each month at 6:30 in the Key Center fire station. The email is