Editor's note: This is the first in a two-part interview with Shoreline Police Chief, Shawn Ledford. Ledford was hired in May by Shoreline city manager Julie Underwood. He's been on the job since June 1.
Patch: What is the plan for the neighborhood storefronts? The lease in Ridgecrest is up at the end of the month and the lease at Richmond Beach Shopping Center is up next year. How are residents best served by these storefronts?
We’re looking at options right now. The Ridgecrest storefront will go to a month-to-month lease starting in November. How do we do a better job of getting our crime prevention efforts out to the whole community as opposed to focusing on a couple of neighborhoods?
What we we’re looking at is if we can take our resources that we have in the storefronts, currently east and west, and consolidate them at more of a central location, City Hall being that possibility. When I first came here I talked to some volunteers and some other people about what’s working well [and] what can we improve on. Part of that was the storefronts really do a good job as far as what the volunteers do. Some of the services they do include court notifications for court dates, victim callbacks on crime, CPTED (crime prevention through environmental design) [and] vacation house checks. These are good programs.
Some of the volunteers were saying they lacked an interaction with the police department and some of the police officers because we generally come here to the police station but the volunteers are located at the storefronts. We don’t have room [physical space] here to bring volunteers in. If we had a place where we could have more interaction between volunteers and police officers, working as one group, to get the message out on crime prevention to the whole city [this will be good.] We have started this process of looking at making improvements.
Patch: When will that decision be made?
We met with the volunteers to go over why we’re looking at this. They like being at their current locations at the storefronts so we’re keeping that in mind but they also understand the drivers behind focusing on one central location so the information is centrally disbursed, the training, the interaction. So the next process would be getting some community input, seeing some of the questions and concerns the community may have about this. Also working with the Council to see what they believe to be the best option.
Patch: What are the advantages of a central location for storefronts?
By merging the two storefronts the police department could gain efficiencies. We would only need one storefront officer. [Leona Obstler serves as the storefront officer in Richmond Beach and Greg McKinney is at Ridgecrest.] The other storefront officer could be re-assigned to patrol, focusing on neighborhood traffic safety enforcement and education efforts. [That] also provides more visibility in the neighborhoods to help with crimes prevention efforts.
Also in regards to the potential merging of the two storefronts and centralizing the service, a mobile storefront would be a big part of this to help get the message out and provide service to all neighborhoods in Shoreline. A mobile unit could be set up in parking lots of businesses with high volumes of traffic, neighborhood churches, school parking lots, city events such as Celebrate Shoreline and the Ridgecrest Ice Cream Social. People would have the opportunity to come up and learn more about what the police can do to help neighborhoods be safe.
Volunteers would primarily staff the mobile unit. We will be looking at options for the vehicle. A possibility may be something like the King County Sheriff’s Office major crimes van. This will need to be cost neutral, nothing has been added to the 2013 proposed budget.
Patch: The police station was built in the 1950s. It is old and cramped. What would a new station cost? Do you think the citizens are ready to support a bond to pay for it? What are your officers’ needs?
We’re doing a feasibility study. We’re taking funds out of our seizure funds and that’s going to pay for the feasibility study to see, one, what the cost would be and [two] what are some locations -- some options for a police facilty. There’s options that would seem less costly if we were able to take City Hall, one of the floors there (about 12,000 square feet compared to the current 5,400 square feet of this station) as opposed to purchasing property or building something from scratch.
The need, there’s several [needs.] When you come into the lobby here, [it would be better] if we had a large enough space for a counter for our volunteers. There’s often times when people come in and they may have to make a phone report but we don’t really have a place for them in private where they can talk on the phone to a dispatcher or give out information they don’t want other people in the lobby to listen to.
The other thing is when we bring somebody back here for fingerprinting, we don’t search them, for safety reasons those people are just brought back without being searched but they have access to everybody in the police facility here because they go back and get fingerprinted on Livescan. Ideally, you would have interview rooms, Livescan where they can be fingerprinted and other things separate from where prisoners are [versus] where the police officers are. You would have those lines of separation that this facility doesn’t currently have. We have no room for growth.
A lot of things are done with computer forensics so you have to keep machines running for an extended period of times and (doors) locked so they don’t get tampered with. Evidence processing is way too small—we often have to take the evidence and put it into detective areas or break rooms or other areas of that nature to store the evidence while we’re processing it. We’ve eliminated the locker rooms, the showers, things like that because we needed more space for evidence storage and things of that nature.
How do the police facilities of nearby departments stack up?
They are not apples to apples, because our property management, records and dispatching are housed off-site.
Shoreline Police Station,
•5,480 sq. feet
•50 sworn, two professional staff
•Population served 53,200
Bothell Police Station
•37,743 sq. feet
•58 sworn, 13 dispatchers
•Population served 33,720
•Property management, dispatched, records on-site.
Edmonds Police Station
•22,215 sq feet
•54 sworn, 11 professional staff
•Population served 39,800
•Property management, records on-site.