Dog walkers can help leash the bad guys by alerting police officers if they spot criminal activity happening while cruising with their canines.
Currently there are about 120 Mercer Islanders who are participating in the Paws on Patrol crime-prevention program through their training with the Mercer Island Police Department (MIPD). Most of the citizens are dog walkers, while others are solo walkers, runners and bicyclists, and they’re all hitting the streets and sidewalks each day. By scanning the scene around them, residents provide extra eyes and ears for the police.
“You guys are out in the community with your dog, and at that time, you’re going to be acting as participants in keeping our community safe,” said MIPD Public Support Officer Anna Ormsby while co-hosting the Paws on Patrol virtual meeting on March 24.
Ormsby noted that 95% of police arrests come as a direct result of a citizen’s phone call.
“We really appreciate the fact that you guys participate in this program. It means a lot to us,” she said.
MIPD Det. Samantha Hammer, who also co-hosted the meeting, added that 99.9% of the crimes committed on the Island involve property, like package and mail thefts, car prowls and more. These crimes occur during all hours of the day throughout the Island.
Residents know the Island neighborhoods best, Ormsby said, and have become less hesitant to punch 911 into their phones and sound the alarm on suspicious activity. The program’s goal is to apprise criminals that dog walkers are on the lookout for wrongdoings.
“When they know that people are watching out for their neighborhood, and their street and their park, they’re going to be a lot less willing to come here and commit crimes,” Ormsby said.
Ormsby said that residents should call 911 any time they feel a police response is necessary. If it’s determined that a crime was not committed, that safety first instinct puts everyone’s mind at ease, she added.
When residents call 911, the operators will ask them the nature of the emergency, if they can describe the subject involved and if the subject was carrying any weapons, and the approximate location of the incident. Operators will also ask for the caller’s name and phone number so that officers can contact them if they need more information about the incident. Callers can remain anonymous if they wish.
“Let these operators ask the questions, then please try to remain calm and speak clearly,” Ormsby said.
The Paws on Patrol program is the brainchild of the National Association of Town Watch, which also launched the National Night Out against crime. Much like during the Map Your Neighborhood events, residents are meeting each other and bonding over crime prevention, Ormsby said.
“The more people we can get involved in their community, the better we’ll do as a whole,” Hammer said.
For more information, visit https://www.mercerisland.gov/police/page/paws-patrol.