I already shared my sympathy for the good people at Sabai Thai, who have apparently endured several burglaries in the recent past. But the "official" coverage of that story has gotten a little more interesting, what with eight business owners showing up at the suspect's first hearing to complain about the lack of police response to property crimes.
That's a little unusual, and fairly noteworthy.
Several years back, Ann from Sabai Thai told me that she had gotten her purse stolen at a restaurant downtown. She went to the restroom, and when she came back, the purse was gone. She told the manager of the restaurant, and they called the police. While they waited for an officer to show up, the manager was able to show Ann the security cam video of her purse being taken.
And so they waited. And waited. No officer ever arrived. The next day, during office hours, when Ann went to the police department, no one seemed particularly interested in following up. So far as she knew, no one from the police department ever went to the restaurant to watch the video footage either. No one was ever identified or arrested for the crime.
It's a version of a story that I've heard from a number of people in Port Angeles: Police non-responsiveness. I couldn't help but think of all those stories when the stories of these burglaries - and the public response to them - made the news.
What has your experience been? Are these business owners missing the mark, or are they on to something? We know that Port Angeles is strapped for cash, and they've even announced that they don't have enough officers to enforce certain laws. (I guess the Port Angeles PD won't be flying any officers to Paris anytime soon, eh?) But is there a real law enforcement problem in Port Angeles? If so, is it driven by the budget, or the lazy and corrupt nature of the entrenched bureaucracy?
And finally, if there is a problem with crimes being left to essentially solve themselves, does the buck stop with individual officers, chief Terry Gallagher, or the City Council? In other words, who, if anyone, can we expect to hear the voices of these victimized business owners who are saying more needs to be done?
According to a follow-up article about these burglaries, it turns out that the police didn't even catch this guy. One of the victimized business owners tracked him down (via tips generated on Facebook) and "cornered" him at him house, then called for the police to come and get him.
While I'm glad that the businesses that were robbed can probably feel better now, and Facebook will probably be thrilled by the good publicity, needless to say, this is not how our law enforcement system is supposed to work, unless the Port Angeles PD held a secret ceremony of some sort, magically deputizing the entire town...