Island residents can meet with police chief at community event

MIPD records specialist discusses crime prevention.

If residents hear or see something — say something, goes a message from the Mercer Island Police Department (MIPD) regarding crime prevention.

Islanders can gather to meet with police chief Ed Holmes to discuss that topic and whatever else enters their minds from 9-11 a.m. on Aug. 20 at Starbucks (7620 SE 27th St.). The Coffee with a Cop national initiative runs along the lines of National Night Out, which brings neighborhood residents and officers together to meet one another and engage in face-to-face discussions.

“That’s a really good opportunity for the community to see that we are in the field, in the community, open to their concerns,” said Lindsey Tusing, the department’s records specialist, adding that community engagement is a powerful crime-prevention tool and can also aid the department in solving crimes. Paws on Patrol is another crucial city program where residents walking their dogs keep their eyes peeled for suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.

“Those initiatives are really valuable,” Tusing said.

In general, MIPD forecasts just a 10% rise in thefts from last year if the monthly averages remain constant. Thefts of high-value electric bicycles and catalytic converters are the only type of Island crime that has slightly increased over the last year, Tusing said.

According to a MIPD document on the city website, there were 5,450 total calls for service through June of 2022, including 1,167 during that month. The largest number of calls through June were 202 for larceny, 37 for fraud, 25 for burglary and 20 for motor vehicle theft.

Tusing noted that the MIPD had 62 cases mentioning catalytic converters on its books so far this year compared to 37 total in 2021. Those crimes usually occur under the cloak of night and happen quickly, said Tusing, noting that thieves resell the metal for a significant amount of money. MIPD recommends that people park their vehicles in a secure, well-lit area, if possible, to avoid becoming a victim of theft.

“If you hear something strange outside, like a metal grinding sound, don’t wait to call us. Time is really of the essence in those cases if you can make a quick report,” she said.

In 2021, there were 51 reported Island burglaries and at press time Tusing said residents have reported 29 for this year. If that trend remains constant, she added that the amount will result in a 4% decrease from 2021.

“Prevention, of course, is the most important and most effective thing that we can work on. It begins with vigilant patrol by our police officers, especially at night when property crime is more common,” Tusing said.

When crimes are reported at homes, businesses or apartment complexes, MIPD officers and detectives canvas the neighborhood, contact residents to see if they witnessed or heard anything and ask them if they might have captured any activity on their Ring door cameras.

“Our detectives form strong relationships with the community, with business owners, with residents,” Tusing said.

At apartment complexes, MIPD speaks with someone in the leasing office to gather information about a burglary and see if surveillance footage is available. Tusing encourages residents to pick up their mail or packages as soon as possible if they know when those items are expected to be dropped off at the leasing office or in the lobby collection area. Tusing added that storage units are often targeted, so residents may consider placing high-value, meaningful or irreplaceable items in a safer spot.

When it comes to vehicles, MIPD asks people to refrain from leaving valuables inside and to lock everything up after exiting the vehicle.

“Even an empty backpack or duffel bag might not contain anything exciting, but that’s very interesting to a prowler who’s looking in the windows and wonders what might be inside those bags,” Tusing said.