Community leaders gather, share safety tips

LONG BEACH — Local safety officials presented tips and information to community members on Thursday, Oct. 25, at the Long Beach Elks Lodge No. 1937.

Presenters included Howard Chang, program coordinator of Pacific County Sheriff’s Office Long Beach Peninsula Community Watch/Neighborhood Watch; Tim Martindale Jr., director of Pacific County Communications Center (PACCOM); and Capt. Lani Karvia of Pacific County Fire District #1.

Topics discussed covered safety tips and the different organizations each presenter was involved in.

The community watch program, which operates as the eyes and ears for law enforcement, has 172 members, Chang said.

“There are a number of neighborhoods out there where neighbors are communicating with each other, they look after each other,” Chang said. “What I like to think in terms of the sheriff’s program is we augment that.”

Program volunteers work to prevent crime in Oysterville, Nahcotta, Ocean Park, Long Beach, Seaview and Ilwaco. Volunteers work with law enforcement by acting as observers and reporting suspicious activity in their communities.

Program members, program captains, Chang and the sheriff’s office all work together to coordinate and share information about incidents.

“They see things going on in their neighborhoods and they want to take control back,” Chang said. “That motivates me as a coordinator.”

For more information on the program, contact Chang at 425-559-3175 or pc.cwnw@outlook.com.

“Don’t be in denial. Don’t think something bad won’t happen.”

Chang presented multiple tips on improving home security. He suggested utilizing lights, an alarm system and cameras.

The objective is to make your home less attractive to criminals than your neighbors’ homes, Chang said.

“Take a look at your place in terms of how a criminal would,” Chang said.

Sheriff Scott Johnson recalled an incident from a few years ago as an example of how cameras can be helpful security additions. A single woman thought someone had been looking into her window at night. After installing a camera, the sheriff’s office was able to identify an individual looking into the woman’s home. The individual was a registered sex offender and was arrested the same day of the camera installation, Johnson said.

Hardening doors and windows, eliminating spots where someone could hide, protecting against upper-floor intrusion, keeping doors and windows locked, and only answering the door when expecting company were among other suggestions.

Chang also emphasized the importance of being careful online. He suggested not publishing information about when you’ll be away from home or sharing personal information such as whether you are a part-time resident.

Pat Matlock, chief criminal deputy for the sheriff’s office, suggested keeping expensive items and boxes of expensive items hidden from view. Another tip is to know when packages will be delivered in order to prevent thieves from taking them.

PACCOM is the communications division of the sheriff’s office. The center answers 911 calls and dispatch law, fire and medical services. The center also handles non-emergency calls.

PACCOM is able to receive calls and text messages to 911. The center averages about two to four text messages a month, Martindale said.

“We look at it more toward if something were to happen in your home and you physically can’t speak because of a medical issue or because somebody’s in your house and you’re hiding in a closet, text message would be a way of getting a hold of us,” Martindale said.

PACCOM is one of 14 counties in the state equipped to take 911 text messages, Martindale said.

About 75 percent of 911 calls in the county come from cell phones, Martindale said. He said it’s important to register cell phones and other phones to home residences so law enforcement can get a better idea of where an individual is.

PACCOM is located in the base floor of the county Courthouse. The center employs 12 telecommunicators, Martindale and one administrative assistant.

More information on PACCOM is available at www.pacificcountysheriff.com/e911-communications.html.

“If you haven’t called 911 before you probably will or know someone who does,” Martindale said.

When calling 911:

• Be safe

• Tell the dispatcher your location and the location of the incident you’re calling about

• Describe what you see (people, vehicles, surrounding areas)

• Note if there are any weapons and/or injuries

“If they have a weapon in their hand it doesn’t matter if it’s a gun or rolling pin,” Martindale said. “If they are intending to use it as a weapon or they have access to it we need to know because we want to make sure all of our responders are safe.”

When at a home that isn’t yours and calling 911, Martindale suggested looking for a piece of mail to find an address. Martindale also suggested placing a contact sheet on one’s fridge that includes the home’s address and emergency contacts.

When describing vehicles, Martindale said to include the color, year, make, body style, the license plate number, the license plate state, and whether the car has any distinguishing features such as a bumper sticker. It’s easy to mistake a letter or number on a license plate so it’s worthwhile to get a vehicle description, Martindale said.

When describing individuals, Martindale said to start from the top and move downward.

Karvia works as the fire department’s public education coordinator and is involved in fall prevention programs and helping people with falls.

PCFD #1 serves Seaview, Klipsan, Ocean Park, Nahcotta, Oysterville and Surfside.

“The more people age, if they have a couple of falls, they get scared and start to become sedentary,” Karvia said. “Sedentary is one of the worst things you can do in fall prevention because then you’re going to eventually have to get up and your legs aren’t going to be strong enough and you’re going to take another fall.”

The fire department provides home safety visits, checks and changes smoke alarms, transports people, and helps people back into their homes, Karvia said.

Smoke alarms need to be completely changed out every 10 years and batteries every six months, Karvia said.

Project Lifesaver is another of the department’s services. The program is used for people who tend to wander, Karvia said. People wear a band which emits a signal radio wave that is connected to both of the peninsula’s fire stations.

Residents can also purchase lock boxes and address signs from the fire department. Lock boxes are used by putting a spare house key in a locked container that only first responders can open. The boxes prevent doors or windows needing to be broken during emergencies where the caller can’t get to the door, Karvia said.

Address signs are reflective signs that can be placed both in front of a residence and on a house. The signs allow first responders to see address numbers at night, Karvia said.

The fire department installs and maintains address signs free of charge, Karvia said.

More information on PCFD #1 is available at http://pcfd1.org.

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