August 27, 2008 · Updated 8:10 PM
Having been the victim of property crime myself, I feel empathy for Tim Denhoff, the homeowner who was the recent victim of graffiti as published in your paper [The Times] on Oct. 3. What I dont agree with is Mr. Denhoffs apparent disdain for the hard-working men and women of the Arlington Police Department.
As I drive around I cant help but notice swastika graffiti on stop signs, utility boxes, fences and rail cars throughout our fine town. Is this the work of a group of organized racists or of ignorant juveniles, seeing how the swastikas are all painted backwards? Is Mr. Denhoff the target of racism or more likely the victim of vandalism as so many non-minorities around town have been? Regardless, when did we start blaming the police department for the actions of the perpetrators?
Had Mr. Denhoff attended any of a number of recent City Council meetings he would have learned that the city of Arlington is on a quick pace to regain the title of the highest crime rate in Snohomish County for 2007. He would also have learned that the mayor and city government have completely ignored this issue. Who should Mr. Denhoff really have an issue with if its not the person(s) vandalizing his property?
The Arlington Police Department is taking nearly as many case investigation reports as cities twice its size (Marysville) and doing so with as many as 12 fewer full-time officers than cities of comparable size (Monroe). The fact that the police even had time to respond at all to Mr. Denhoffs misdemeanor property crime, given their departments dire staffing shortage, only speaks to the officers professionalism and dedication.
To put the matter into perspective, consider this. Had the Arlington Police Department caught the offender in the act of committing this crime, the maximum sentence for a juvenile offender convicted for misdemeanor malicious mischief would be eight hours at a juvenile detention center. (Washington State Sentencing Guidelines Juvenile Disposition Manual 2006.) That is assuming the guilty party has past convictions and a liberal judge felt the crime was strong enough to warrant something other than community sanctions such as community service or probation.
The fact that Mr. Denhoff contacted television news media did nothing more to elicit an active police response any more than filing the original police report had. The police simply dont have the resources. Did Mr. Denhoff expect an FBI task force to be formed and police to conduct around the clock surveillance of his property? This is the reason that so many developers have begun to use private security companies to guard against theft and vandalism. These private security companies in turn call the police who then respond to investigate any suspicious circumstances. If anything, the media attention has only served to glorify and bring more attention to the perpetrator of this act and Id expect that to be their original intent.
People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. George Orwell
I sleep better knowing that the Arlington Police Department is out there on patrol, 24-7, and 365 days a year. I know that if my life was in peril they would respond. I know that if my property was threatened, I would call and they would respond. I also accept the fact that the police department is not my private guard service and cant be there to watch over private property 24 hours a day as much as I wish there could be a policeman or policewomen on every street corner.
My hope for Mr. Denhoff is that he would include the men and women of the Arlington Police Department in his prayers, showing the same consideration he gave those who had trespassed against him. I would ask that he would try showing a little support to the people who are doing such a dangerous job and who he is so quick to critique without having spent a day in their shoes.
As a community I feel it is high time we start focusing once again on reclaiming what used to be a fine community and good place to raise our children. We need to once again start focusing on public safety and spend less time worrying about building more parks and gazebos we cant even use because they have been taken over by hoodlums and thugs. It is about time that we started filling that beautiful brick building we built downtown with new cops instead of using it as an excuse not to give these hard working officers any more support. Im sure any officer in Arlington would gladly trade that fancy building for more officers that would be there to back them up when they are facing violence in the night on our behalf.