The Tukwila Police Department opened its new Community Resource Center Wednesday at Westfield Southcenter, helping to bring the community and police closer together.
The center is in the foyer of the southern entrance (the garage side) to the mall. A large sign hangs over the front door.
Volunteers will staff the resource center, providing information to visitors and answering their questions. Officers who daily walk the mall and officers who patrol the broader Southcenter area will work from this office.
“One of our goals in the last couple years has been to be more accessible and visible within the community,” said Tukwila Police Chief Mike Villa Wednesday. “This Community Resource Center is really going to help us to do that.”
The Police Department also staffs the Neighborhood Resource Center on Tukwila International Boulevard. It’s designed to serve the neighborhood, while the Westfield center will reach the broader community, Villa said.
Mayor Jim Haggerton said at the ribbon cutting Wednesday that the resource center is a milestone in the partnership between the mall and the city.
Years ago, the Police Department had a resource center accessible from the exterior of the mall, but it was lost when the mall was expanded.
The city and mall management have worked in recent years to find a new space.
“I think it’s really important to have a visible presence of the police at the mall somewhere. Anytime there is a problem, somebody knows where to go and address it immediately before it gets out of hand,” said Joan Hernandez, a former Tukwila City Council member who attended the ribbon cutting.
Becky Smith, Westfield Southcenter’s general manager, also participated in the ribbon cutting.
The resource center has a conference room that’s available for community meetings.
The goal is to have the resource center staffed by volunteers in the front office when the mall is open, said Tukwila Officer Zack Anderson, part of the department’s community policing team and the city’s crime-prevention officer.
Citizens can report crimes there, but Anderson stressed that citizens should call 911 first to report most crimes and especially an emergency.
Officers will use the resource center to run special emphasis operations, including for car prowls during the holidays, he said.