Opinion

Mercer Island not immune from crime

Last week's police incidents are a sobering reminder that Mercer Island is not immune from crime. Mercer Island's affluence and location squarely on an interstate highway between two metropolitan areas make it an attractive place to live. Those same qualities attract people intent on committing property crimes. The easy commute for residents is also an easy commute for criminals who need to get on and off the Island fast.

Public Safety Director Ron Elsoe characterized last Tuesday's events as ``highly unusual'' and said that the day was the most hectic of his 33 years on Mercer Island. He also stressed that the Island is still a safe place to live.

Other agencies were quickly on the scene. Both Seattle and Bellevue sent patrol units, detectives and police dogs to the shooting on I-90, while King County assisted with its helicopter, Guardian One. The State Patrol made its lab, investigators and troopers available as well.

There has always been crime on the Island. In fact, property crimes -- burglaries, thefts and car thefts -- all increased from 2003 to 2004.

Mercer Island police over the last year have repeatedly called for residents to help in reducing crime by locking their homes and cars and not leaving valuables in plain sight. The phrase ``But this is Mercer Island -- this sort of thing doesn't happen here'' simply is not true. It does. There is no gatekeeper on the Island to keep bad guys out.

The gunfire in the stolen patrol car incident and subsequent shooting of one of the suspects, plus the attempted shooting of an Island resident who walked in on a burglary of her home, are a loud wake-up call for everyone on the Island.

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