Frustration over Orting public safety leads to criticism, explosions

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by JOHN LANGELER / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @jlangelerKING5

KING5.com

Posted on May 25, 2014 at 10:32 PM

ORTING -- Orange spray paint is Chris Hopfauf's clear indication to the public, neighbors and anyone else exactly where is property line sits.  It's a new addition to his front lawn, coming hours after the latest in a series of explosions took place not far from his home.

"The police call it 'Illegal Discharge of Fireworks," said Hopfauf, "I called it a bomb."

Hopfauf leads an Orting neighborhood watch group called Compton's Crew, created after the murder of his friend Mike Compton in February.

Compton's death remains unsolved.

Though initially setup as a watch in conjunction with Orting Police, Hopfauf soon took the crew independent.  He said the decision was made because the group did not want to pay money for signs and other material.

Compton's Crew patrols the town, often in unmarked cars, watching for suspicious activity.  Anything witnessed is documented with police, and online.

"We've never stalked anybody, followed anybody, confronted anybody or harassed anybody," said Hopfauf.

However, some in the community, mostly teenagers, have complained to city hall that Hopfauf's group frequently crosses the line.

"They think the patrols are intimidating to them," explained Mayor Joachim Pestinger, "(Compton's Crew) is well meaning.  They want to do good things for the community.  As long as they don't overstep their bounds, I think what they do is okay."

Some in Orting have taken their own response too far, according to police.  This week, several small explosions or illegal fireworks were set off.  The department arrested and charged one person on Tuesday, but Hopfauf believes that suspect was behind last night's incident as well.

He calls people behind his friend's death and other crimes around town "rats".

"Rats are the people that murdered my friend Mike," Hopfauf said, "The rats are the heroin dealers that push heroin and meth into our children."

It's talk like that that has forced the police to speak with Hopfauf, which the department said Sunday it was planning to do.

Still, spokesperson Ofc. James Schlotzhauer said the department is just "the referees" as frustration builds between groups in town about how to keep Orting safe.

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