Tuesday, Aug. 6 is National Night Out. Hoquiam traditionally has several block parties on that night to bring neighbors together. Crime Watch members and McGruff, the “Take a Bite Out of Crime” dog, will be attending each party also.
What exactly is Crime Watch? It’s the Hoquiam Police Department’s volunteer group of 13 volunteers consisting of men and women who are at least the age of 50. They do a variety of tasks to assist the police department, the businesses and the citizens of Hoquiam. Formed in July of 2007, it’s the brainchild of Jeff Myers who started it first with a Ford being donated by 1-Star of Aberdeen with graphics donated by Coastline Signs. Now the 13 Crime Watch volunteers use a PT Cruiser for their duties. Officer Aaron Hergert is the liaison officer for the group.
“In my time as chief, I feel the success of our Crime Watch program, made up of our outstanding volunteers, is one of our greatest legacies as a department. They are a force multiplier for our officers as they work to help make our community safer,” said Chief Jeff Myers.
To be a member of Crime Watch, the volunteers filled out a form, passed a background check and were interviewed by the chief and me. The members then received training on patrol procedures, personal safety, traffic control, special emergency response, bike helmet fitting and radio use. They’ve been given uniforms and have a monthly meeting. The Crime Watchers volunteer whatever time they have available. So far, over 8,800 hours of volunteer time have been logged since the program began!
In addition to checking residents’ homes while they’re on vacation, Crime Watch also does business security checks and has compiled a list of contact numbers for officers to reach business owners after hours if there’s an emergency. Karen Harp volunteers hours at the station with administrative duties. They also have a graffiti abatement program headed by Mike and Glennis Stamon. One Saturday last year all of the team and the chief and Mayor Jack Durney spent hours painting over graffiti on a city building on 8th Street and the water building on Endresen Street.
Recently they’ve been contacting area businesses to let them know where their lost shopping carts are located throughout Hoquiam. The Crime Watch members also set up the radar speed sign trailer in neighborhoods to help slow down speeding. Every year they talk with Hoquiam elementary students about Halloween safety tips and give them special trick or treat bags. Members are also helping residents improve their house numbers’ visibility.
Throughout the year, the HPD Crime Watch team helps at many community activities such as Haunted Hoquiam, Shop-With-a-Cop, Loggers Play Day, Coastal Harvest’s Team Harvest, Child ID Program, Comcast Outdoor Cinemas, HPD Bike Rodeos, National Night Out, Cancer Relay for Life, HHS basketball and football games, Central’s Trunk or Treat and Passport Club, Ho-Ho-Hoquiam, Montesano’s Festival of Lights, McCleary’s Bear Festival Parade, Regional Babe Ruth Tournament, Convoy of Hope and Hoquiam Food Bank.
Not only do the Crime Watchers help at events, they also have helped save lives. Thanks to Ken and Gayle Powell passing out a missing person’s flyer, the missing woman was located. Sandra Hulbert and Marilyn Hunter recently assisted a runner in distress at the Half Marathon race, so the runner was able to get aid at the hospital.
Within the City of Hoquiam, bicycle helmets are required to be worn by riders under the age of 18 (HMC 7.20.030). Thanks to donations by grateful residents whose homes have been watched and by Walmart, the team has purchased helmets to give to kids (with their parents’ permission.) The team also gives out certificates for 7-11 Slurpees and McDonald’s Happy Meals to reward kids who are wearing their helmets.
Bob Martin states the reason he likes to volunteer with Crime Watch is “because it gives me the opportunity to give back to my community.” In addition to the members mentioned above, Denise Anderson, Linda and Wes Goings, and Jack Wandler are also part of the team.
If you would like to join the team or have your home checked by Crime Watch, the application forms are available in the lobby of Hoquiam Police Station at 215 10th Street in Hoquiam. If you have any questions, please call me at 360-533-5968 or email me at email@example.com.
See you at a block party in Hoquiam on Tuesday!
Betsy Seidel of Hoquiam is the Crime Watch coordinator.