Task force works to lower crime


William Dietz, KP News

There were 744 crimes reported on the Key Peninsula during the first six months of 2004. That’s the bad news. The good news is that a group called the Key Peninsula Crime Prevention Task Force is working with personnel from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department to bring that number down. The Task Force was organized last August and includes the Key Peninsula Community Council, the Pierce County Health Department, KP Community Services, the Washington Department of Corrections, the Peninsula School District, Fire District 16, the Citizens Patrol, IMPact, Safe Streets, Home Owners Associations, business owners, and private citizens.

List of task force members.

According to Community Mobilization Specialist Dennis Taylor, who works for non-profit group Safe Streets, so much of the crime on the peninsula is caused by people trying to raise money to buy meth that the Task Force chose to focus its energy on finding and eliminating meth labs. That involves public outreach, enforcing the codes that apply to junked vehicles and illegal dumping, closing access to vacant land, beefing up citizen patrols, reenergizing block watch programs and targeting law enforcement. (For more information about meth addiction direct your browser to:http://www.hhs.gov/).

Even a cursory look at the map shows that the areas having the highest crime rates include Lake Holiday, Lake Of The Woods, Horseshoe Estates, Greentree/97th, the Lake Kathryn shopping center, Key Center, and Palmer Lake.

For a more precise read-out on your particular neighborhood logon to:piercecountycrimedata.org and choose “Neighborhood.” Enter your address and or street to see what crimes have taken place in your vicinity.

The reasons for the concentration of crime vary. Taylor says, “We found a positive correlation between the number of rentals in a community and problem drug houses. There are lots of rentals in Horseshoe Lake Estates, Greentree/97th, Lake of the Woods, Lake Holiday, and Palmer Lake. “Palmer Lake used to have more of a problem,” Taylor continues. “But now they have a very active Block Watch and Citizens’ Patrol. That demonstrates that improvements can be made.” And the trend is definitely in the right direction. “As of 2002 we had about 1,918 incident reports,” Taylor says, “for 2003 about 1,625, and in 2004 we’re on pace for about 1,500.” But the community can only do so much and that’s where the Sheriff comes in.

Terry Lee, Pierce County Councilman, District 7, had this to say: “Response right now comes from University Place or South Hill between 3 o’clock and 7 o’clock in the morning in the Gig Harbor/Key Peninsula area. We’ve had a lot of break-ins between 3 o’clock and 7 o’clock in the morning. I’m pretty sure that’s going to drop off when the crooks know there are police on duty.”

When asked whether adding deputies to the Gig Harbor and Peninsula patrols will deprive other communities Lee said, “No, this is all additional staff. They’re coming from Lakewood. This year they decided to create their own police department. They hired some deputies but some were left over. We’re taking 18 out of about 35 officers and spreading them around three areas including Gig Harbor/Key Peninsula, Mountain Dispatch up by Eatonville, and the plateau by Bonney Lake. We’re going to wind up with 24-hour protection county-wide as a result.”

But, even with all the activity by the Crime Prevention Task Force and county government, the task of fighting crime starts at home. Community Mobilization Specialist Taylor puts it this way: “Secure your property, secure your neighborhood, and get involved in the community.”


Task Force Members

Ben Thompson Key Peninsula Community Council

Brad Harp TPC Health Department

Cristi Watson KP Community Services

Daina Ager WA Department of Corrections

Dani Anderson Key Peninsula Community Council

Dennis Taylor Safe Streets Campaign

Ed Taylor Key Peninsula Community Council

Gina Urcuyo Minterwood HOA

Glen Pszczola Attorney

Hugh McMillan Key Peninsula Community Council

Jerry Van Noy Taylor Bay Estates HOA

Jess White Horseshoe Lake Estate HOA

Judi Holley Neighborhood Action Team

Kim Kimmet Lake Holiday HOA

Marilyn Perks PS Education Service Dist.

Mark Luppino PC Code Enforcement

Miriam Goad Palmer Lake HOA

Pat Latshaw Citizens Patrol

Penny Gazabat IMPact

Polly Holton WA Department of Corrections

Rick Sorrels Community Member

Robert Dietz Lake of Woods HOA

Rusty Wilder Pierce County Sheriff/Peninsula

Shannon Wiggs Peninsula School District

Tom Lique Fire District 16