High-tech upgrade to old neighborhood blockwatch



Bio | Email | Follow: @ElisaHahnK5


Posted on January 26, 2012 at 5:37 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 26 at 7:41 PM

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- If you live in Federal Way and your house is burglarized, you can instantaneously tell police, your neighbors, and find out who else has been victimized.

Officer John Demarest is part of a special emphasis patrol in Federal Way's Twin Lakes neighborhood, which has seen a recent increase in certain types of crimes.

"Burglaries, cars broken into, malicious mischief," says Demarest.

Just ask homeowner Bob Hill, who had three cars broken into earlier this month.

"There's all your material that's in your glove box thrown around and you just feel violated," says Hill.

Now the two parties can share what they know by logging onto a secured website called Safe City. Registered residents can read information on other crimes in their neighborhood, and police can post progress on a case, or piece evidence together to solve it.

"Maybe several seemingly unrelated pieces of information come together which could theoretically clear a case," says Commander Chris Norman with Federal Way Police.

Federal Way is the first city on the West Coast to launch this program in a residential neighborhood. But in the retail core, it's been a valuable crime-fighting tool for years.

Just last year, police posted surveillance video of a child molestation suspect to the Safe City site.

"Two prevention agents at Sears saw it and within three hours the guy was in custody," says Norman. "It was a direct result of Safe City."

Hill is one of 150 residents in his neighborhood who have signed up. He looks at it as a high-tech upgrade to a neighborhood blockwatch.

"The problem with the blockwatch is that it's not instantaneous like the Safe City program is," says Hill.

The site is exclusive to residents and patrol officers in that particular neighborhood. All of it is password protected.

Safe City costs the city of Federal Way $1,500 a year. They plan on adding more neighborhoods to the program.