Police Neighborhood Resource center helps officers be closer

There’s no getting around it: The Tukwila International Boulevard corridor is a high-crime area. But that isn’t a life sentence. The city’s Police Neighborhood Resource Center opened in August and puts officers right in the heart of this high-profile thoroughfare.

Tukwila Police officer Ceith Cullens rides along Tukwila International Boulevard.

There’s no getting around it: The Tukwila International Boulevard corridor is a high-crime area. But that isn’t a life sentence.

The city’s Police Neighborhood Resource Center opened in August and puts officers right in the heart of this high-profile thoroughfare.

“It gives us a way to be closer to the community,” said Tukwila Police officer Ceith Cullens. “Having a neighborhood resource center here, centrally located in one of our highest crime districts, makes it so that the good citizens and residents who want to make a change have better access to the police.”

The center was closed for about a year and a half due to budget restrictions. Since the center returned, Cullens said the community response has been overwhelmingly positive.

The thanks have ranged from regular citizens emailing or stopping in to express their gratitude, to businesses showing their appreciation.

Cullens said a Wendy’s manager came out to give officers gift cards after they arrested a drug dealer who was doing business in front of the restaurant. The officers then gave the cards to neighborhood children who were acting responsibly – wearing helmets on bikes, wearing seatbelts when their parents get pulled over for speeding, etc.

Right now, with only a few volunteers in the center, Cullens said about five or six people stop in every day to ask questions, look for resources or file a report about something that’s not an emergency.

Before, Cullens said those people would be walking up and down the street, flagging down police cars, unsure what to do.

The department is hoping to get more volunteers to work the front desk, so they can have enough to put an “open” sign up and set regular hours. That way citizens come in whenever they need resources, police-related or not.

Another bonus for the center is that it gets more officers in the area. They can file reports and work out of the center, putting them closer to the high-crime district. Cullens estimated that there is an officer in the center eight to 12 hours each day. He said the officers enjoy working out of the center, since it’s closer to the majority of the calls. It also features a central location for video surveillance along the corridor, with several screens fed from the bevy of cameras in the immediate area.

“I’ve seen the response times go down for this area, as far as 911 calls,” he said. “It adds more bodies to the area that work out of here to help combat the high call load to try to make it a safer place.”

Cullens said it’s about a three- or four-minute drive from the Tukwila Police Department to International Boulevard, so that time savings could be essential in emergencies. Mostly though, having the center close just helps the officers to be a bigger part of the community. The more they are seen patrolling on bikes, or in the center, the better.

The Police Neighborhood Resource Center is located at 14862 Tukwila International Boulevard. The front desk is staffed by volunteers, but doesn’t currently keep regular hours. Community members should still call 911 in an emergency.

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