Shoreline's new Police Chief Shawn Ledford held a community meeting at Shoreline City Hall, to offer insight into some recent crimes and the police department's crime prevention strategies, Tuesday evening.
Ledford assured the members of community in attendance that Shoreline was a safe city, especially compared to some surrounding cities, despite recent media attention for certain crimes.
“We’re right in the ballpark of other safe communities,” said Ledford. “When you look at the numbers, they’re similar to places like Bellevue and Issaquah.”
Ledford, who has been with the King County Sheriff’s Office for 23 years, has held a wide range of law enforcement positions, including Police Chief for the City of Newcastle and detective in the Special Assault and Major Crimes Robbery/Homicide Units.
The new chief acknowledged that many people in the community are concerned about whether or not Shoreline in plagued by a gang problem, because of a series of major crimes that yielded two murders in one week, which is double the number of murders in Shoreline in 2011.
“We don’t have a gang problem,” Ledford pledged. “We’ve checked with our gang unit, and we don’t see any crime trends related to gangs.”
There have been 16 crimes that the Shoreline police believe to be gang related, to some extent, including burglary and larceny. But there have been no incidences of violent crimes related to gangs.
In 2011, the numbers for violent crimes were one, 15, 34 and 35 for murder, rape, assault, and robbery, respectively. All of those numbers are equal to or below Shoreline’s five-year average.
The chief stressed the importance of community policing, as well as partnering with the King County Sheriff’s office, to helping reduce the crime rate in Shoreline, specifically property crimes.
“Property crimes is where community policing comes into play,” said Ledford. “Being part of a block watch and actively contacting law enforcement when you notice something really helps the police department.”
He explained that block watches and concerned citizens, who come together through a little bit of organization, are vital in helping the police identify suspects.
“Communication between the public and the police will be key.”
Ledford also stated the importance of police volunteers, who make reminder calls that increase the success rate of people appearing in court on time, and the city’s School Resource Officer.
“It’s critical that we are connected with the schools and work closely with the schools,” said Ledford. “The information that we receive from them is very valuable to public safety.”
He detailed the role that the School Resource Officer played, after the double shooting that left 17-year-old Shorecrest student, Tiana Montgomery, dead.
“We called him out that night and figured out what he knew about the students which led to friends and witnesses,” said Ledford. He helped the school with notifying teachers and students and determining how the school would handle the incident.
“I have children myself,” continued Ledford. “There’s nothing more important than my kids being safe in school, my kids being safe in their home and in their neighborhood.”