Whittier Heights Family Festival

We are currently applying for a grant from the city to host our first (hopefully, annual) Whittier Heights Family Festival. There would be free food, drinks, and live entertainment that is family focused. Some ideas so far are : live music, dancing, yoga/guitar workshops, face painting, magicians, and scavenger hunts. The festival would happen at the end of July and would be in Kirke Park. We really want to bring the community together for a day to celebrate how amazing Whittier Heights is and to get to know your neighbors. We are asking local businesses to take part either by sponsorship, offering free or low cost products or services, or contributing a gift card for a raffle we will be holding.

If you would like to volunteer on the day of the festival please contact me : whittierheights@gmail.com, and pass along my info to any businesses you would love to see there and encourage them to participate too. Any musicians or other artists out there that you know of? I’d love some help finding local participants! Let’s get outside this summer and have some fun at Kirke Park!

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Projects on the horizon…

We have established and continue to hold weekly neighborhood walks. We also have someone who is leading a daytime walk each week, so we will continue to hold at least 2 walks per week (if not more). The hours and days, will always vary.¬†It began with the goal of “taking back” our community from crime as we hoped that walking the “hot spots” at night would deter some of the illegal activity happening, and send a message to all that we care deeply about Whittier Heights and will not stand by as property crime rises and drug deals increase in the Baker Park area. We feel these night walks have been successful, as we have seen loitering folks leave the park when they see us coming, we’ve heard chatter about some kids not being happy that we are walking the area, etc. The way we see it, worst case scenario, we meet some great neighbors and get some exercise. Best case scenario, maybe we deter some crime. It’s a win -WHIN, pun intended ūüôā

I am dreaming of adding some neighborhood bike rides also, but will have to see if there is interested. Also on the horizon is a Baker Park clean up (likely early February), a social event and some brainstorming for other community based projects. I will continue to work with other neighborhood groups to follow the Baker Park expansion and we will be involved in input for the design, once funding is allocated. Stay tuned!

Neighborhood based initiatives

Two major initiatives have been started by the Whittier Heights neighborhood in response to the rise in property crime. 1) WHIN has started a weekly evening walk group. The purpose to these walks is to get to know your neighbors, strengthening the community and to keep an eye out for crime to report to the SPD. We will be walking the neighborhood in groups, wearing safety vests and carrying flashlights. We hope to add daytime (after school hours) walks also as well as some late night walks (midnight). Each walk will occur at random days and times so there won’t be any set schedule to keep the walks random. Please contact WHIN if you’d like to participate and be placed on our weekly walk email list.¬†2) Brad, a Whittier Heights resident, has started the “Whittier Heights Patrol Association” or WHPA, to hire off duty Seattle police officers to patrol our neighborhood. For more information on the patrol, which is set to begin January 1st, 2015, please contact the association at : whittierheightspatrol@gmail.com. Here is the link to the recent King 5 story which covered this topic:

http://www.king5.com/story/news/local/seattle/2014/12/19/whittier-heights-seattle-police/20628207/

The formation of WHIN

Gina formed WHIN in response to the increase in property crime in the Whittier Heights area. Washington’s property crime is ranked # 1 in the country according to a recent Seattle Times article, that ironically, was published on the day of WHIN’s first meeting, which included representatives from both the SPD and City Council.¬†WHIN’s first community meeting was at the Loyal Heights Community Center on November 18th 2014. Nearly 150 residents, 7 representatives from the SPD, 1 City Council member and 2 council member representatives were in attendance. The turn out was awe-inspiring to say the least, given this meeting was held during the daytime. The meeting was called to address the concerns over the increase in property crime in the Whittier Heights and surrounding area. The goal of the meeting was to demand action on this issue. Data from data.seattle.gov was presented to show the alarming increasing trend in property crime, and anecdotal evidence was collected to show the decrease in police presence that has been experienced as well as slow 911 response times. The bulk of the meeting was open discussion, and although it lead to open communication and some good problem solving, most of the answers came from community based initiatives. It is clear that the SPD is lacking resources and/or having political issues which are resulting in the inability to provide adequate policing at this time in North Seattle.

The room was over capacity, with an attendance of nearly 150 people and for a daytime meeting, that is pretty amazing. The goal of the meeting was to call for action on the issue not only of property crime but also the decrease in patrols and slow 911 response times which has been experienced by Whittier residents. Since that meeting, WHIN has started weekly evening neighborhood walk patrols, the goals of which being 1) to get to know your neighbors and increase a sense of community and 2) to keep an eye out for crime, reporting back to the police when necessary. We share the belief from other neighborhood groups that this increase in presence from the residents ourselves can help “take back” our community and we hope this leads to more deterent of crime.

A WHIN member has formed The Whittier Heights Patrol Association (WHPA) which will offer private patrols, staffed by off duty SPD officers to increase our police presence in the wake of the crime increase and apparent inadequate police resources. New police are being trained as we speak, but their training won’t be complete until the end of 2015/2016, so we can’t expect large increases in police presence in the short term. To contact WHPA for more details, or to subscribe to this service, email : whittierheightspatrol@gmail.com

Gina is now attending the North Precinct Advisory Council (NPAC) monthly meetings, and will be in a focus group on human services within the Council. She is also collaborating with the Greenwood Community Council and is on their Health and Safety Committee. She will continue to be dedicated to issues of health and safety of the Whittier Heights neighborhood. As well as keeping WHIN active, she will serving as a liason with other neighborhood groups and city representatives.

Tips: Home Security & Burglary Prevention

Keys in door

Don’t make it easy on a burglar by leaving your keys in the door or your door unlocked.

IDENTIFY ENTRY POINTS

Before you make security improvements, identify those entry points most likely to be used by a burglar. You can do this by answering the following questions:

    • Which entrances are hidden/out of view from my neighbors?
    • If I am locked out of my house, where could I get in without too much difficulty? Every door/window you list in response to these questions should be a number one priority.

BASIC SECURITY IMPROVEMENTS

Other security improvements should follow, keeping in mind that your goal is to make it difficult for a burglar by forcing them to take more time and to make more noise!

    • Exterior doors should be strong enough to withstand excessive force.
    • All exterior doors should be secured with a deadbolt lock that has a minimum one-inch throw.
    • All strike plates and frames for exterior doors should be anchored to the home’s main construction.
    • All exterior doors should fit snugly against the frame and all frames should be free of warping, cracks, and other signs of wear and tear.
    • Solid core wood, metal or other reinforced doors, Reinforced door jams or jam braces.
    • Three-inch screws, heavy-duty strike plates and tamper proof hinges.
    • The main entrance door should have a doorwide-angle (180 degree)viewer/peephole.
    • Sliding glass doors and windows should be secure against forcing the locks or from being lifted completely out of the frame.
    • High-risk windows (basement, garage, ground-level, partially or totally secluded, latched, etc.) should be secured sufficiently enough to discourage or impede possible intrusion.
    • Double-hung windows should be secured with pins or extra locks to discourage prying.
    • Trees and shrubs should be trimmed to allow visibility along the perimeter (particularly entries) of the house.
    • Timers (both interior and exterior) should be installed to activate lights in your absence
    • All entrances (doors and windows) to your home should be well lit at night.
    • Your address should be posted on your house and be clearly visible from the street both night and day.
    • Safety glass or security film on vulnerable windows.
    • Motion sensor lighting, specifically directed and focused on entry points and vulnerable areas, no flood lighting and beware of light trespass.

Security improvements should not be made at the expense of fire safety! Remember to allow at least one door or window per room as a fire escape – meaning that exit via the door window can be made quickly and easily. There should also be fire escape routes established for your household. Family members should know where these are and they should be practiced periodically, especially if there are young children at home.

INSTALLING AN ALARM?

Thinking about installing an alarm? Before you do, read about how false alarms are caused and how they can be avoided.

Source: SPD Website

Tips: Auto Theft Prevention

UNDERSTANDING AUTO THEFT

Many auto thefts are crimes of “opportunity”.¬† Leaving the keys in your car (even a “hidden” spare key) greatly increases your chances of having your car stolen.

Leaving your vehicle unoccupied with the engine running, even for a minute, is illegal in itself; but it greatly increases the chance that your car will be stolen.   It is truly a helpless feeling to watch your car being driven away by a total stranger as you stand 10 feet away at an ATM or mailbox.  Take your keys with you even for quick trips.  Needless to say, this is especially true if you have children or pets in the vehicle.

  • More than two thirds of all auto thefts occur at night.
  • Approximately 86% of the stolen vehicles are recovered
  • While some vehicles are definitely stolen to be sold, or dismantled for parts, the large majority are simply used as temporary transportation by common criminals. Thus, most vehicles are recovered within a few weeks to a month and with relatively little damage.
  • Auto theft happens fast.¬† An expert auto thief can¬†break into and steal a car in less than a minute.¬† An unoccupied car, with¬†it’s engine running,¬†can be taken in seconds.

WHAT ATTRACTS A CAR THIEF?

  • Leaving your car unlocked or the windows down.
  • Leaving your keys in the car or a spare key hidden in the car.
  • Leaving your car unattended.
  • Parking in poorly lit places with low visability.
  • Leaving valuables and packages in your car.
  • Cars not protected with an anti-theft device.

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR CAR

Car Theft

Car alarms are just one of many crime prevention methods to combat auto theft.

  • Don’t leave your keys in your car.
  • Close your windows and lock your doors whenever you leave your car, regardless of how long you plan to be gone.
  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • Keep your car in a garage if you have one.
  • Park in lots that have attendants.
  • Use an anti-theft device whenever you leave your car .
  • When parking your car, turn your wheels toward the curb to make it more difficult for a thief to “tow” your car.
  • Use your emergency brake when you park.
  • Engrave your driver’s license number preceded by the state letters (WA D.L.) or your car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on any removable equipment in your car.
  • Replace “T-shaped” door locks with straight locks so thieves cannot grab them with an implement through a crack in the window.
  • Immediately report any suspicious activity to the police (for a non emergency contact 625-5011)

WHEN YOU ARE IN YOUR CAR

  • Keep your doors and windows locked, no matter how short the distance or how “safe” the neighborhood.
  • When you’re coming to a stop, leave enough space to maneuver around other cars. If you sense trouble, this will allow you the room needed to get away.
  • If a suspicious-looking person approaches your car, drive away carefully.
  • Drive in the inside (center) lane to make it more difficult for would-be carjackers to approach your car.
  • Don’t stop to assist a stranger whose car has broken down. Instead, help by driving to the nearest phone or using your cell phone to call the police for help.

IF YOUR STOLEN CAR IS RECOVERED

Prior to using it, it is always a good idea to carefully examine your recovered stolen vehicle for property that does not belong to you, which may be evidence of other crimes. Also, you may want to search your vehicle’s interior carefully (using a flashlight) to make sure drugs, drug paraphernalia, or dangerous objects such as syringes, have not been left behind. To turn over any evidence or contraband to the police, call the Non-Emergency number, (206) 625-5011, and be sure to have your Seattle Police Incident Number handy to give to the Operator.

Source: SPD Website