-By Julia Steege-Reimann-
Since 2017, both violent and property crimes have decreased by about 30 percent in Woodinville, Wash.
So how did Woodinville create a much safer community? Lots of personal touches and feedback from residents and businesses.
“It’s not uncommon to see Woodinville officers handing out stickers and balloons at community events or accepting an invitation to drive to a child’s house to wish them a happy birthday,” said Maia Knox, Management Analyst for Woodinville.
In addition to prioritizing a personal touch, Woodinville is deeply committed to resident feedback. The City regularly conducts The National Community Survey (The NCS) to gather feedback from community members. The survey reveals improvements on multiple aspects of safety between 2017 to 2019, as indicated by The NCS. Such components include overall feeling of safety, police and crime prevention.
“The NCS shows that Woodinville has significantly improved safety over the past few years. For that they should be very proud,” said Damema Mann, Director of National Engagement for Polco.
Woodinville’s efforts led to a 2020 Voice of the People Award for Transformation in Safety. This is the only national award that honors local governments based on feedback from residents. The award is presented by Polco / National Research Center (NRC) and the International City & County Management Association (ICMA). This award acknowledges local governments that make significant improvements on The NCS ratings and that take the best actions on behalf of their communities.
The Woodinville Police Department focuses significantly on increasing its positive interactions with the community. You can frequently see Woodinville Police in the community championing donation-based events such as “Shop with a Cop” and “Toys for Tots,” which help kids in need during the holidays.
Additionally, The Woodinville Police Department increases its visibility through meetings to support neighborhood crime prevention and assigning extra police presence to the downtown corridor during the holiday shopping season.
The Woodinville Police Chief’s social media presence has also helped to improve the relationship between residents and police. In a few short years, Chief Katie Larson has grown the Police Department Facebook page to reach more than 3,000 followers.
“She accomplished this by taking time to explain tough concepts, highlighting positive community news, and, in her words, ‘just being a human,’” said Knox.
In addition to the great work being done by the Police Department, The City’s Emergency Management Division has recently made strides to improve emergency preparedness.
The City uses digital media to proactively communicate with residents about risks such as earthquakes and snow storms.
Behind the scenes, the Emergency Management Division convenes a committee of representatives from partner agencies. They also plan to co-locate the City’s emergency operations center at Fire District headquarters. This increased coordination allows the City to better anticipate risks and respond to emergencies.
As Woodinville’s Emergency Management and Police Department leaders look towards the future, they aim to keep improving the City’s safety.
Emergency Management leaders plan to use mailers and digital media to increase messaging about emergency preparedness tips, tricks, and best practices. They also plan to implement a mobile app residents can use to report risks and hazards. Last, they plan to form a local Citizen Emergency Response Team.
The Woodinville Police Department plans to hire a business district liaison and formalize programs related to business crime prevention. They also plan to hire an advocate who can assist crime victims with issues related to domestic violence, social service resources, and navigating the legal system. Last, the PD is working to develop new methods of seeking feedback from community members who use police services.
“City leadership and staff are proud of our recent accomplishments in the area of Public Safety. We look forward to making the community feel safer each year,” said Knox.