Port Orchard: Block watch underway downtown

Residents of Port Orchard’s downtown neighborhood recently met with Police Chief Geoffrey Marti about concerns over prowling, gas siphoning and speeding.

Talk of the nagging problems has been circulating since mid-summer in an online chat group of neighbors. One person considered getting a gas cap lock.

Speeding vehicles were reported on Sidney and Seattle avenues.

“No one obeys the speed limit here and there are lots of children and parents walking on the street to go to the park on Dwight. It’s scary,” said one resident.

Someone suggested putting out those glow-in-the-dark fluorescent green “boys” with orange flags. But someone else said they’d probably just get stolen.
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The group discussed other solutions and some suggested taking matters into their own hands by forming a “PO Guardian Angel task force” or “Para-Police Group.” One person talked of stopping a suspicious person in an alley and taking a cell phone picture.

Councilman Fred Chang, who lives downtown, implored folks to keep their distance from possible crooks. “Please do not put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation,” Chang wrote. “Our police force is better trained to deal with such situations.”

The block watch meeting on Aug. 8 was productive, Marti said.

“I knew about 50 percent of the people at the meeting, because they’re all my neighbors,” said Marti, who lives downtown.

Marti reviewed crime data that showed downtown is not a “hot spot” for crime but in fact is relatively safe. He applauds the neighbor’s heightened sense of awareness, however, and said a culture of see-something-say-something goes a long way toward keeping police in-the-loop and deterring would be criminals.

But like Chang, Marti discouraged people from actively taking on suspects. Furtively noting a license plate number, yes. Approaching a suspicious vehicle and whipping out your cell phone, don’t try it. Just call 911.

“If you see something that concerns you, by all means, call the police,” Marti said.

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