As the Washington State Patrol auto theft unit was executing a warrant on a chop shop in North Spokane, regional law enforcement leaders were announcing a new approach to cracking down on property crimes Wednesday morning.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, in announcing the new regional approach along with chiefs of police from both sides of the Washington - Idaho border, said that a regional approach to property crimes is needed because "their criminals are our criminals" and that the criminals "know no boundaries."
The police chiefs from both Liberty Lake and Airway Heights echoed Knezovich's concerns, saying that criminals don't respect jurisdictional boundaries, making interagency cooperation and sharing of crime intelligence essential.
The chiefs of police rattled off a laundry list of issues each community faces. For example in Cheney, auto theft is a big problem, while in Kootenai County theft of copper from power lines is a major problem.
Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub pointed to the quick response to a woman holding a burglar at gunpoint early Wednesday morning as a success in data-driven policing. He said that through crime analysis they position officers where they're needed most, leading to the quick response to the scene and apprehension of the burglar.
Knezovich added that not only do policing efforts need to be stepped up regionally, but the justice system needs to step up with stricter sentencing guidelines for repeat offenders, adding that current guidelines are not harsh enough.
"How many times do we have to arrest these people?" he asked.
Straub added that in addition to policing and looking at sentencing guidelines, property crimes are fueled by mental health and addiction issues, so addressing both of those are key to helping combat property crimes as well.
Coincidentally the press conference was happening simultaneously to a chop shop bust in North Spokane being run by the Washington State Patrol auto theft unit.