Community meeting Monday will target Tacoma crime

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by ZAHID ARAB / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on November 17, 2013 at 6:53 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 17 at 11:41 PM

TACOMA -- Crime in Tacoma’s Hilltop Neighborhood has residents so concerned, they’ll hold a community meeting Monday night to discuss the problem.

 Recent incidents have been especially jarring, given they happened in consecutive weeks.

Last week, two young men were victims in a drive by shooting last week around 19th Street and Ainsworth.

And almost two weeks ago, Justin Winter and his fiancé were jumped by a group of teens because the couple refused to give one of them a cigarette. Winter now has 4 screws in his mouth with medical expenses reaching $20,000 so far.

“It’s disturbing enough that the community wants to get together,” said Lisa Lawrence, a member of the Hilltop Action Coalition.

According to the Hilltop Action Coalition, community members have worked hard since the 1980’s to overcome its reputation of violence and gang activity.

“We need to see what we can do to make sure we don’t lose ground. We want to take care of the problem now before it becomes a huge problem,” said Lawrence.

While neighbors have noticed a difference, Tacoma Police say crime statistically isn’t going up. According to Tacomacrime.org, there have been 12 assaults, 7 thefts and 2 Robberies in the area.

“I don’t know what’s happening. People are worried,” said Seung Oh, a gas station employee.

Oh and other employees at nearby businesses have noticed a rise in problems.

“A lot of teenager gathering here sometimes there’s fights, arguments,” he said.

Lawrence says many business owners tell her they’re experiencing a drop in sales in the area after dark.

“People don’t want to walk around there and they don’t feel as safe as they used to in that particular area,” she said.

To make customers feel safer, Ezell’s Chicken at the corner of S. 19th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way has hired private security at night.

Lawrence hopes the meeting is a chance for the community to partner with police and take care of the problem.

“It’s by community involvement, everybody working together that we make this community the way it is,” said Lawrence.

Monday’s meeting goes from 6-7pm at the Tacoma Police Department’s Sector One Substation.

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