Tacoma's Hilltop residents concerned about rising crime

TACOMA -- Residents packed a community meeting in Tacoma Monday night, to voice concerns about increasing crime in the Hilltop neighborhood.

When Lewis Rudd opened an Ezell’s Chicken in the Hilltop area of Tacoma, he knew about the problems of the past.

“There were a lot of fears for folks to come up here because of the activity. There used to be a lot of gang activity,” Rudd said.

“I remember the days working up here as an officer,” Tacoma Police Chief Donald Ramsdell said. “It was a battlefield with gangs, drugs, and shootings.”

Officers and community members worked hard to take their streets back and make Hilltop a safe place.

“The crime rate has been the lowest in this area for quite some time, and that was because of us,” said City Councilwoman Lauren Walker, who lives in Hilltop.

But over the past few months, there have been incidents of drive-by shootings, robberies, and loitering.

“In September, we began to hear some concerns from customers,” Rudd said. “There were crowds hanging out, mostly young kids and young adults.”

Rudd hired a security guard to give his customers and employees some extra protection.

“Peace of mind, knowing when they come in here, the environment is safe,” he said.

But he wanted to know what else was being done to keep people safe, so Monday night he attended the Hilltop Action Coalition meeting at the Tacoma Police Department.

A lot of people showed up, concerned about what’s been happening lately.

“Every now and then, we need to be reminded that we can't be complacent and we need to watch out for our community and each other,” said Lisa Lawrence.

“I keep hearing the theme of working together, becoming part of your community, finding solutions together,” said Ramsdell, after listening to residents for about an hour. “That’s what it takes. Public safety is not a spectator sport.”

The Hilltop Action Coalition says they’ll continue to meet monthly and stay connected in-between through social media.