This is dedicated to Travis Holappa who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered on July 25, 2004 in Northern Minnesota. This was all due to meth. I am Travis' mother and I wish to make this devastation turn into a better thing by educating and exposing the truth about meth, the dangers, and the deadly consequences it brings about to individuals and communities.

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Location: Colorado, United States

I want to do what I can to educate people about what is going on around the world with the meth problem. I want people to know about it BEFORE they even get the idea to want to try it. It is a dangerous drug and will ruin your life as well as all those who love you. I am on a mission on behalf of my only son, Travis.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Citizen watchfulness is a key to fighting crime, police say (Washington)

By Amy M. E. Fischer
Crime in Longview may have dropped for the second consecutive year since 2003, but that's not much comfort for Hillcrest Apartments resident Karyn Loftesness.

Six months ago, prowlers broke into the 21-year-old Lower Columbia College student's Honda CRX and stole the stereo equipment, parts of the engine, the car's computer and both front seats. Within the last few weeks, her neighbor's car was broken into three times and another neighbor's car was stolen from the parking lot of the 70-unit apartment complex on Columbia Heights.

"It makes all of us angry. We can't believe it keeps happening. ... When we moved in, we thought this was such a nice place," Loftesness said Wednesday.

Now, a couple of her neighbors patrol the parking lot with guns, she said.

Longview Police Chief Alex Perez said last week he knows the community is sick and tired of the area's numerous car prowls and car thefts.

"It's not that you're forgotten," he said he tells people. But there's not much evidence to go on in most cases, and the criminals already have moved on, he said.

"Despite the technology available ... it comes down to good policing and cat and mouse," he said. When citizens complain about slow police response times, Perez explains that with a limited staff, police need to tackle the city's serious, violent crimes before anything else.

"It's not that we were off somewhere just kickin' it. We had things to do," he said.

Fighting petty crime requires the cooperation of business owners and community members, plus a good dose of prevention, he said. In America, people should feel safe enough to walk around with $20 bills hanging out of their pockets, but that's not the reality of most places, he said. Even the police chief doesn't leave valuables on the seat of his unmarked patrol car in Longview, he said.

"We have to be vigilant," Perez said. "You could give me hundreds of officers, but we're still going to have crime."

Longview resident Ken Spring, for one, doesn't intend to be a victim. The owner of a mini-storage complex, Spring patrols his property at night with a 12-gauge shotgun.

"If accosted personally, I'm prepared to use it," he said last week. "I will not take a beating from someone who's trying to violate my property."

Spring spends a a tidy sum keeping his house and businesses lit up like a used-car lot, but with methamphetamine addicts stopping at nothing to get something they can turn into money or trade, he knows light alone isn't enough to keep them away. Hence the shotgun.

"The bad element is getting the upper hand here," he said. "I've lived here my whole life and I've never been scared before. But that's all I think about anymore."

Perez observed that many local residents "have become accustomed to thinking things are so bad here." But Longview's problem with petty crime pales in comparison to the violent crimes occurring almost daily in other cities, he said.

As an example, Perez said when he first arrived in Longview in late 2004 from Inglewood, Calif., (a city on the outskirts of Los Angeles), he thought his Monticello Hotel room phone was broken -- no one from the police station had called him in the middle of the night with an emergency.

"Do we have too much crime? Absolutely. But it was far worse two years ago," Perez said. "This is a good place to live."

According to crime statistics released this week, Longview's property crime rate in 2005 was 89.1 incidents per 1,000 residents, compared to the state average of 49.4.

While that number is too high, "I don't think we're the worst," Perez said. "But again, what difference does that make to a victim? ... It doesn't matter if we're the best or the worst. At that moment, they've been violated and victimized."

Longview's 2005 violent crime rate was 4.2 incidents per 1,000 people, slightly above the state average of 3.47 but well below that of Seattle's 7.2 or Tacoma's 10.2.

Although City Councilman Andy Busack agrees that Longview's troubles aren't as severe as those elsewhere, he said Friday it's natural that residents will focus on the particular crimes they face locally.

Busack, co-owner of Fusion Electric, has had his house burglarized, cars prowled and yard plundered a total of 12 times since he moved to Longview in 1994. That averages out to being a victim more than once a year, he said, which is "too much."

Officials promise that when the new 306-bed county jail opens, which should be sometime within the next month, there will be a noticeable impact on crime because there will be plenty of cells for offenders who might otherwise have been let off with a citation.


Blogger Oberon said...

......what is the most important thing?

Monday, May 01, 2006 10:16:00 AM  

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