Community forum to discuss public safety concerns in Pierce County

Tacoma Police Chief Avery Moore on Tuesday will give an update on his crime reduction plan during a Tacoma City Council study session.

Moore presented the first version of the plan in July, pitching more police visibility, especially in neighborhoods where crime is happening repetitively. He also called for more resources and community outreach. As city council prepares to hear updates from the police chief, leaders in Pierce County are preparing for a forum on public safety.

More crime scenes are showing up across Pierce County, including Tacoma, at an uncomfortable rate for longtime residents like Brett Johnson.

"I’m outraged about the level of crime and the violence crime that’s occurring. I’m concerned and scared as a parent. We just had a homicide shooting about 500 feet for my house," said Johnson.

The Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs is the state’s largest organization of members in law enforcement. Executive director Teresa Taylor said she regularly hears frustrations from officers about state laws hindering their efforts to protect their communities.

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"It’s ironic, I guess, because I think that the idea was that reforms were necessary in order to help some members of community feel better served. And unfortunately one of the consequences of some of these reforms has been officers feeling as though they’re not able to provide the help and support that they’ve historically provided," said Taylor.

Johnson, president of Tacoma Safe, said he believes the reforms are some reasons why crime is rising in his city. There have been 36 homicides in 2022, a record for Tacoma.

"We’re seeing some pretty rapid deterioration in the last probably two months. It’s escalating even more," said Johnson. "We have to turn things around and improve safety and get ahold of our neighborhood."

Tacoma Safe and Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs are teaming up to host a Public Safety Community Forum. The community will have a chance to share their concerns with elected officials and law enforcement, including retired Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor.

"But they can’t do it alone and community can’t do it alone. We really do need to talk, understand each other, understand what resources are available, what limitations there are to the resources that we have and how can we best utilize our skills collectively to reduce crime and improve safety," said Taylor.

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The goal of the conversation is to also discuss solutions, and who best can help residents like Johnson save their neighborhoods.

"By in large, the state is responsible for a lot of these things, whether it be through funding or through policy changes. So, we want to get the message out to residents that we don’t have to be beating down City Hall’s door because City Hall really doesn’t have the tools or the jurisdiction to get the fixes we need to improve and restore our community," said Johnson.

The Public Safety Community Forum is November 1, starting at 5:30 P.M. at Mountain View Funeral Home in Lakewood.