PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. – Neighbors watching out for neighbors — that’s the goal of an online crime watch group in Pierce County.
Last week, the Pierce County sheriff said he could use more deputies on the beat to patrol the more than 1,800 square miles of unincorporated county.
But until more cops hit the streets, this online community is working hard to help be the eyes and ears for their county.
The Facebook page is called Pierce County Crime and Drug Watch. So far the page has gathered more than 23,000 members.
Q13 News spoke with the folks who help run the Facebook page, and they believe the group is essential to keeping their neighbors informed about what’s happening around them.
“We get probably 100 members a day and right now about 20 want to join the group,” said Kim Wilson.
Wilson said she created the page in 2016, adding that she and the volunteer administrators stay busy moderating content.
“We’ll probably get 10 posts a day,” said Wilson. “Some missing cars, someone stole a car. Package theft, mail theft.”
“This is like a giant neighborhood watch,” said page administrator Ken Lemings.
Lemings said he’s used the page to share information after he successfully dealt with a nuisance neighbor.
“I dealt with a squatter issue with guys throwing drug needles on my property, drugs,” he said. “I have a dog and a daughter running around.”
“I just started it because people were complaining about crime all the time and they had nowhere else to post it,” said Wilson.
Posting helps get the word out, but the folks running the page want to see more cops on the street. Especially after three officer-involved shootings happened in less than a week’s time in Pierce County.
“I just feel like there’s a lot of crime around here,” said Wilson.
“You can’t expect a sheriff to patrol when they’re responding to one call, all of the sudden another call comes in, they have to prioritize,” said Lemings.
So until crooks either leave the county or more deputies are hired, the folks running the block-watch page will continue sharing information about crimes to help their neighbors.
“I don’t believe that we’re trying to take the place of the police,” said Lemings. “I believe that we’re trying to help people be more aware.”
The page isn’t a free-for-all – the host and administrator say they continually moderate the page to make sure conversations stay civil. And when they have information that could implicate someone in a crime, they share the information with police.