My name is Deputy David Morris. I have been a deputy sheriff in Spokane County since 1994. I have worked patrol for most of that time, but I’ve done many other assignments too. Currently I’m in a position called Crime Prevention. In this position I do community outreach, teaching citizens, and helping neighborhoods. I am on the board of directors for the Washington State Crime Prevention Association. You can get more information about the services I can provide YOU by searching online for “Spokane Sheriff Crime Prevention Unit.” On to my message…
Prevention is the key. They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In modern law enforcement and forensics, we have become extremely effective at gathering evidence and processing crime scenes. Reality may not ever catch up with what happens on TV shows, but law enforcement can do amazing things to catch criminals. We catch many and prosecute them, and that is praiseworthy! However, most people agree it is best if crimes can be prevented so there are fewer crime victims. Nobody wants to be a victim of crime.
Prevention has been the watch-word in some very important professions. Medicine, dentistry, fire science and auto manufacturing. Doctors will advise you on how to prevent heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Dentists exhort you to brush your teeth and floss daily to avoid tooth decay and gum disease. Fire scientists have lobbied for laws that require fire-retardant materials, and fire suppression systems become a mandatory part of any new construction. Automobile manufacturers are making cars that detect objects in your path and even apply braking before the driver knows about the hazard.
In law enforcement, we have taken a cue from doctors, dentists, engineers, and firefighters! The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office has had dedicated, full-time deputies assigned to crime prevention duties for over forty years. It has been my privilege to undertake that duty since 2015, and I am very proud to do it. If I can help YOU avoid being a victim of crime, then I will have done my duty.
Here are a few things for you to think about:
Some criminals are predators, but most are opportunists. They move about in our community looking for opportunities to commit crimes where they think they have a good chance to get away with it. There are many easy targets, so the best thing you can do is make yourself, your home, and your vehicles hard targets.
Lock-up and close-up. Keep your doors and windows closed and locked, even when you are home. I strongly suggest that if you have a screen door to your home you keep it locked in addition to using the other locks on your doors. Keep your garage door closed unless you have line of sight to your garage. It takes less than a minute for a person strolling by to walk into an open garage door and grab some valuables (tools, bikes etc.) and leave. If they act casual, no one suspects a thing.
Car security is especially important this time of year if you enjoy our local hiking and biking trails, lakes and campgrounds. Make sure your car is locked and ALL VALUABLES are OUT OF SIGHT before you walk away from your car. Consider putting your valuables in the trunk BEFORE you park there. Sometimes thieves will watch the parking lot and they see you put the expensive items in the trunk. Once you’re gone they can smash your window and access your trunk. This is not just for parking at trailheads, anytime you park your car make sure it is locked and ALL VALUABLES are OUT OF SIGHT!
Watch your surroundings. Pay attention to what people around you are doing, and if it looks suspicious, call 911. You don’t have to wait until someone is being shot or stabbed to call 911 and don’t worry about “bothering us!” We want you to call, and I urge you to trust your instincts! If it doesn’t look right or feel right, get yourself to safety and call 911. PLEASE!
Did you know in Spokane County you can send text messages to 911? They will not only receive your message, they will respond back to you. This is a slow and cumbersome process, so it is not as good as calling, but if you can’t talk due to safety reasons, or don’t have strong enough cell service for a phone call, you can text 911 with confidence.
Before I finish this message, I want to talk a bit about some terminology that some people find confusing, or simply unfamiliar. Sometimes people say, “My house got robbed.” No, actually, it didn’t. ROBBERY is taking something from a PERSON by force or intimidation. BURGLARY is entering a building (like a home) unlawfully and committing a crime inside (like stealing something). If your house was broken into while you were at work, your house wasn’t “robbed,” it was burglarized, or burgled. If people are at home when the criminal enters and they threaten or attack the people who live there, that changes from a burglary to a robbery. We often hear that referred to as a “home invasion robbery.”
In Washington state, the crime of vandalism is called MALICIOUS MISCHIEF. Also, harming or attempting to harm a person is called ASSAULT. Washington state does not have the charge of “battery.” Additionally, the crime of HARASSMENT is committed when a person makes threats to harm someone, and the person threatened is reasonably put in fear that the threat will be carried out. It feels like harassment when someone taunts you or repeatedly bothers you, but those don’t meet the criminal definition of the crime harassment, even though they are a form of harassment.
Thank you for reading this column. If you have any questions for me, you can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call me at 509-477-6044. If you need assistance from law enforcement, you should start by calling Crime Check at 509-456-2233. For crimes in progress call 911 right away. In the meantime, keep yourself safe, look out for your neighbors, and remember kindness all day, every day. It’s the best thing you can do!
2019 National Night Out Against Crime
The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, like many agencies, is very good at responding to and investigating crimes. We are excellent at gathering evidence, interviewing victims and MORE...