On Monday morning, August 26th The Waynedale News took a ride with Officer Cornell Wiley. I thought it would be a good idea to take a ride with an on duty officer to see what it was like on an ordinary Monday morning.
Officer Wiley has been patrolling the Waynedale area for about seven years. He works the day shift, six days on and two days off. Besides Officer Wiley, there are a number of other officers covering the Southwest Quadrant on second and third shift.
Officer Wiley's shift starts at 6:00AM. He picked me up at the Waynedale News at 6:30AM and we started out on his regular rounds. The passenger side compartment is a bit cramped as the new on-board computer takes up a lot of room. We toured through Pizza Hut, Evans, and drove down side streets and through the neighborhoods that I have become so familiar with over the last fifty years. All was quiet in the Southwest Quadrant, but then, it was Monday morning and quiet is what you would expect.
One of the things Officer Wiley does is to maintain a presence throughout the area. We stopped at a school bus stop on Witchwood Dr. and Beaty Ave. The kids all waved and called Officer Wiley by name. They had seen him often, while he was making his rounds.
I watched as the kids got on their bus and this "Leave It To Beaver" atmosphere was much enjoyed. Still, the two teenage girls that were killed over the last few weeks makes you wonder how some kids can get so far afield of what growing up is supposed to be. Wiley waved good-bye to the kids and then dropped me at the office. I guess no matter how good the shepherd, you lose a lamb now and then, but a tragedy of loosing a teenager makes us all uncomfortable...and well it should.
There have been a number of thefts reported in the Waynedale area. Mayor Graham Richard, Fourth District City Councilman Tom Hayhurst and the FWPD as well as neighborhood reps. are working on ways to correct this problem.
At 6:00PM I went to the Waynedale library to attend a meeting on crime in the Southwest Quadrant.
Attending were Tom Hayhurst, neighborhood specialist Gina Kostoff, Police Deputy Chief Doug Lucker, Sargent Jim Neu, Lieutenant Mike McQueen, Officer Wiley, and representatives from three of the Southwest Neighborhoods, (Sandpoint, Bella Vista/Allendale and Elmhurst).
Chief Doug Lucker opened the meeting by explaining a map showing high crime areas. Doug talked about what the police could and couldn't do and things that have been tried in the past to bring down the crime numbers. He also covered how stats can be misleading. A new service station on Ardmore and Engle Road had reported 119 pump and runs in about as many days. When those kinds of numbers are added into the crime stats it appears as if there has been a serious crime wave. As always, you should take a look at how stats are compiled before jumping to any conclusions about an area. We have the usual amount of car break-ins, but the most disturbing increase was in residential burglaries.
Sgt. Jim Neu brought up the fact that fifty percent of the home intrusions were through the front door. If someone is seen going around to the side of a house, or to the rear, it raises suspicions, so the entry of choice for a criminal is usually the front door. Officer Neu presented a video that showed how a $12 dollar investment into a dead bolt could be a good crime deterrent. The type of dead bolt installed was not as important as the length of screws used in the strike plate. A typical 1.5" installation screw will not withstand a good kick, but a 3" screw will take repeated poundings and not release.
Another inexpensive tactic is to mark all your possessions and put a sticker in your window that says all items have been personally identified. Also, the window stickers that say, "This house protected by silent security alarm," are deterrents.
These tactics are called hardening the crime scene and can often protect your property with very little investment.
Councilman Hayhurst has been investigating the possibility of utilizing volunteers from the neighborhoods for night patrols. This would be a rotating watch, utilizing CCW (Concerned Citizens Watch) guidelines to patrol any problem areas.
Even though the police are ready and able to do everything within their power to catch the criminals, the prosecutor's office is often overwhelmed with more serious crimes. The jails are full to over flowing and the arrest of buglers will not necessarily get them off the street. One of the suggestions from the neighborhood presidents was to capture suspicious characters on video and show the tapes at the neighborhood meetings. Once identified the neighbors would know who to look out for.
Securing our neighborhoods is a difficult problem, and the one thing agreed upon was, no one group can do it by themselves. Neighbors looking out for one another's homes and the quick 911 calls are still the best security.
Anyone wanting to know which neighborhood association represents them can call Gina Kostoff, at 427-1122. Please report all thefts to the FWPD Tele-service at 427-1340, even if the crime is too small to report to your insurance agent. If you have a suspect in the theft, a uniformed officer should be called. If you would like a security survey of your home call Sgt. Jim Neu at 427-5876. Anyone interested in an activity log for police calls can check the FWPD web site at www.fwpd.org. The better reporting the police have from the community, the better chance they will have at pinpointing problem areas.