SPOKANE, Wash. -Spokane’s finest, despite their best efforts, aren’t always able to cover all the bases.
As the incident with the ax-wielding vandal on July 12th showed, Spokane Police often have their hands full.
SPD’s Public Information Officer, John O’Brien, said while it isn’t uncommon for there to be times of the day when there are no units available to respond to a particular call right when it’s reported, the 12th was unusual because police had their hands tied with a lengthy standoff when a man court documents identify as 28-year-old Torin Ford began swinging an ax-shaped piece of steel through several downtown windows.
While the incident is rather bizarre, it highlights a problem local police have been facing, with increases in property and other crime stretching their resources.
“Our numbers are spreading us a little thin with the number of crimes in Spokane,” said O’Brien. “It would sure be good to put some more bodies out there.”
O’Brien says part of the issue is that, on top of having less funding than they would like, the department has seen a lack of applicants to join the police force. They have been intensifying their recruiting efforts, and O’Brien says that anyone who is interested in joining law enforcement should begin the process to see if it’s a good fit for them.
And it wouldn’t take massive numbers to help move the needle. O’Brien says that even one or two extra officers per shift would make a huge difference. He mentioned a grant-based increase in police presence in the north side over a short period of time, which led to a 25% decrease in the crime rate for that area.
O’Brien said that the other step citizens can take to help reduce crimes is to report the criminal conduct they see.
“Unfortunately, there’s probably more crime going on than we’re aware of, because people aren’t reporting it. Please report the crimes so that we can figure out where the hotspots are, [and] where we need to move more people to,” he said. “It’s not an inconvenience, we want to know where the crimes are, so that we can partner with the community to stop it.”
And while police will always prioritize responding to crimes against persons over property crimes, O’Brien urges that those who see property crime report it, though being conscious of their own safety in doing so.
“A property crime can turn into a crime against a person very quickly. I would encourage people, when they see these things, make sure they keep themselves safe. Get distance away from it, be a great witness, call it in,” he said.
If you have an interest in joining the police force, you can visit the County Civil Service Commission website to view the requirements and begin the application process.