Fighting crime in her apartment complex,
seeking peace at home using all her might
SNOHOMISH — After a neighboring unit in her quiet apartment complex was riddled by unwanted visitors and illegal activities, Suzanne Davis began an anti-crime campaign that has residents sleeping more soundly.
A multi-month effort involving police, City Council and the housing authority that manages the complex resulted in a disruptive tenant being evicted in October.
The battle won, Davis is eager prevent a similar situation from reoccurring in the future.
To that end, she’s reached out to Mayor John Kartak who’ll be the featured guest at a Nov. 16 meeting to encourage neighbors to connect.
Davis lives at Woodlake Manor Three apartments on 13th Street, a 24-unit subsidized housing complex for senior and disabled residents.
She has hoped to organize a neighborhood watch but the property owner, the Housing Authority of Snohomish County (HASCO), has reservations about neighborhood watches at its properties and will not permit neighborhood watch signs to be posted on site. HASCO’s executive director Duane Leonard said he has seen neighborhood watches go wrong in the past.
“We need to be careful,” Leonard says.
Watches can lead to neighbors spying on each other and “one group pitted against another.” At another property, Leonard said he had seen a group of neighbors gang up on a targeted tenant. Neighbors may also feel pressured to join, which HASCO wants to avoid.
But after months of living on edge, Davis is committed to building a more involved community that can help keep their home crime-free.
More than 100 pages of police records from May through early October detail the causes why Davis was living on edge.
She says from the time the troubled tenant moved in last fall, her quality of life started to slide.
Police records show traffic at the complex was up, followed by car prowls and vehicle vandalism.
Davis said the new tenant welcomed male visitors she saw her meet at a nearby shopping center. They would stay briefly, sometimes moving in for days.
The tenant and those who came to see her would smoke on the property, violating HASCO site policies.
In one instance, a man with a felony warrant was arrested for possession of methamphetamines.
Police records detail altercations including one over allegedly stolen property.
As the dangerous activity increased, another tenant joined Davis’ in her efforts and others began to take note of the problem activity and occasionally call police, too.
Davis also brought her concerns to the City Council, sharing about thefts, drug activity and other crimes.
“My heart rate was elevated and stayed elevated, my neighbors’ too,” Davis said. “We were watching around us all the time.”
After a lengthy process, Snohomish Police Chief
Keith Rogers said the tenant was successfully evicted and subsequently trespassed from the property early this month.
With the chaos over, Davis says she is finally starting to relax. She said she’s felt the emotional weight of the ordeal finally lift.
Deputy Rich Niebusch, the city’s community outreach officer has reached out to Davis about participating in an existing neighborhood watch, but Davis has been hoping to start her own hyper-local organization.
Kartak said close community is the most important factor in having a safe neighborhood.
“If you’ve got a community where everybody goes in their houses and closes their drapes and turns on the TV, that lends itself to more situations that are undesirable.”
The mayor hopes the meeting will help spark better connections between neighbors.
Kartak said regardless of the type of group, it will be good simply to have neighbors come together and get to know each other.
Davis said she hopes “there will be more cooperation and friendliness so when something like this happens, which it likely will, this time people will be more prepared.”
Davis is not new to activism. Her two-year battle against disruptive middle-of-the-night noise from local businesses ended last month with Snohomish adopting new anti-noise rules.
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