Thank you to the citizens of Port Ludlow for submitting the below questions. If you have any questions about my responses, or if you have additional questions, please send me an email through the website and I will be happy to answer them.

 

1. What potential crimes should we be most aware of and prepared for in Port Ludlow?

Property crimes like theft, car break-ins and residential burglary, identity theft, and domestic violence. 

 

2. Is the sheriff's office always the most appropriate authority to notify in the case of such incidents? 

Property Crimes: Include theft and burglary. Anytime someone is victimized the first call should be to the sheriff’s office. In my experience these crimes are rarely isolated incidents. The key is to document and investigate each crime properly. Most crimes like this are solved as a result of many small facts learned from proper investigation of each crime. To dismiss or minimize such a crime and not properly investigate does a disservice to the individuals and communities affected. 

Identity Theft: Identity theft is difficult to investigate and even harder to prosecute. The initial report of the crime should be to local law enforcement but it is important to be proactive as soon as possible and work with your financial institution to mitigate any loss. Frequently, local law enforcement lacks the resources to identify and arrest people who commit these crimes, because many of these crimes are committed by persons out of the area or even out of the country. However, identity theft may be the easiest to prevent.  Public education is the key to prevention. We can be proactive by monitoring our credit and using proper procedures to prevent these crimes.  Recently I shared some ideas for prevention with a local financial institution and they were interested in providing instruction to local residents to better protect customer accounts. By coordinating with community partners and then providing education to residents the sheriff’s office can make our community less vulnerable to such crimes.

Domestic Violence: Sadly, crimes between family members have always plagued our communities. Jefferson County is fortunate to have substantial advocacy services to help those who are affected. Safety of those involved and successful intervention requires a decisive law enforcement response and proper handling of the crimes that occur. 

We have specific policies in place about how we expect our deputies to handle domestic violence calls because they often call for a specialized response. We must respond promptly, de-escalate whatever the active situation is, take full and complete reports about what has happened, and help those who are involved by connecting them with services and organizations that can support them.  

 

3. What is the sheriff's office response to a call for such incidents?  What should we expect from that notification?

In any case where a crime has been committed a proper law enforcement response is required. This includes a proper assessment of the facts of the case and an appropriate response and documentation of facts. Documentation is important for many reasons that include:

  1. Documentation/ Investigation is required if there is any hope of solving a crime and finding those responsible. 
  1. Documentation is required for proper tracking and linking of crimes together. 
  1. Documentation is required to properly evaluate the needs of the community with regard to:
    1. law enforcement staffing
    2. law enforcement shortfalls
    3. deployment of law enforcement resources 
    4. develop crime trends
    5. help develop crime prevention trends  
    6. future planning and needs of the affected communities

Citizens should also know what to expect when we show up. We will train deputies and staff to communicate that information which will help to put minds at ease and allow citizens to assist us once we are there. 

 

4. What results has the sheriff's office obtained from reports and investigations of similar incidents?  

Without systematic documentation it is impossible to properly evaluate crime trends and identify areas that require extra patrol or targeted enforcement. JCSO does not currently follow the process I have detailed in this response to your questions. This must change.

 

5. What could have been done to produce a more satisfactory outcome?

Elect Art Frank.

Proper engagement with all communities is key to law enforcement success. The creation of neighborhood citizen groups (neighborhood watch) is key to protecting ourselves and our neighbors. Community members know their neighborhood and are a force multiplier. More eyes and ears means more success in crime prevention and apprehension. Knowledge and communication is key. Criminals will seek the path of least resistance. Make it hard to be a victim and they will go somewhere else. 

Development and coordination of neighborhood groups like neighborhood watch will make us safer. Proper documentation by JCSO equals accurate crime statistics and allows for accurate crime analysis and target responses. The sheriff’s office should be  proactive about working with citizens, which is something that I will do.  We must also take accurate reports and document outcomes so that we have valid crime statistics and can target those crimes that occur most often and  geographic areas that are most at risk.

 

6. What security measures/systems have been found to be most effective?  What have not been as effective?

In the past the go-to prevention system had been commercially available alarm systems and remote third party monitoring. However, there are currently several in-home video systems that are available and allow the homeowner to know instantly if there is a problem at their home, wherever they are.

These internet-based systems allow for live monitoring which provides the homeowner the ability to report in-progress crimes. This live monitoring can be done from a smartphone from anywhere in the world (provided there is access to the internet at the source and receiving end.) 

It is still important to make your home as hard a target as possible while still keeping it a home and not a fort. The level of defense is personal preference, but the sheriff’s office should be able to give some advice.

Motion detection lights are also a helpful deterrent, though they can be annoying if they are regularly triggered by an animal or wind-blown tree.  

Of course once JCSO is aware that there has been a crime or that a crime is in progress, we must adequately respond and resolve the situation (see answers to number 3 and number 5, above)

 

7. For those of us who must keep a vehicle parked in the driveway, how can we help to protect its catalytic converter from theft?

We don’t have many catalytic converter thefts in our county The ideal is to park in a garage or under a light with camera surveillance if possible. A quality car alarm is an added level of protection. 

The theft of a catalytic converter happens very quickly. Just a battery operated saw and a sharp blade and several thousand dollars in damage is done. 

There are many programs that can provide owner-applied numbers or identification affixed to the catalytic converter which is a demand-side deterrent.

Some owners have installed a metal cage around the converter but this only slows the thief down. 

The key to this type of theft is to eliminate the demand. If there is nowhere to sell the converter the thefts will stop. This requires active enforcement of existing laws that require scrap yards to document the source of the stolen property.  

As with all crimes the punishment must match the crime. This is a legislative issue and state legislators are working on some fixes that may slow demand.


8. How do we institute a Neighborhood Watch program in our neighborhoods? Is it effective? How will the sheriff's office assist us with this?

The creation of Neighborhood watch groups requires that citizens agree to be engaged and help to protect their property and the property of their neighbors. It is necessary that JCSO be the hub of this process and facilitate the development of the dozens of groups that would likely be created. This partnership would provide a level of safety in the involved communities that we do not currently have. 

Neighborhood watch can be the foundation of disaster preparedness groups as well.  

As Sheriff I would establish a formalized program in our office with proactive outreach to communities.  We must be there to respond to and resolve issues for our citizens,  from active prevention through to investigations and prosecutions. 

Thank you for your questions and the opportunity to respond.   I welcome your feedback.

 

Respectfully,

Art Frank