September 27, 2012 |

Stats show crime rates in Medical Lake down by 25 percent

By JAMES EIK

Staff Reporter

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich addressed the Medical Lake City Council at its Tuesday, Sept. 18 meeting, as part of his regular semi-annual report to the city.

Despite a recent report from Spokane media, overall crime in the city is down by around 25 percent, comparing January to August figures from 2011 and 2012. Should that trend line hold, Knezovich expects continued decreases in Medical Lake.

“That's not bad, given the population growth,” he said. “But the biggest issue is juvenile issues.”

While the overall crime rate has dropped, the past month has seen a series of unfortunate events in the city, from a drowning to vehicle prowlings. Knezovich also briefly spoke about a suspicious house fire on Sunday, Sept. 9. Major crimes detectives and fire investigators are currently looking at the instance, continuing their investigation into what happened.

City Administrator Doug Ross asked about the case, specifically if it was a random act of violence, something that had some community members uneasy.

“I can't go into details on that,” Knezovich said. “This was definitely not random. It was targeted.”

Councilmembers also offered different views on the patrol frequency in town, ranging from not seeing them enough to seeing them on a regular basis.

“We all know there's a certain segment of the population who will say they're not seeing anything,” Knezovich said. “I've heard the reverse, too.”

He also asked if those were some of the same messages relayed to the city's Police Department a few years ago, before contracting with the county. Although contracting out services, Medical Lake still retains some special connection to its officers. It's one of the few cities where citizens can call a deputy directly with an on-duty number.

In addition to the patrol officer, Medical Lake's SCOPE volunteers help the front desk in the police station, providing valuable support for detectives and other personnel.

“SCOPE folks have stepped in and filled a huge void,” Knezovich said.

The City Council approved an interlocal agreement for emergency management services with Spokane Emergency Management Services, an entity which includes participation from a large number of cities in Spokane County. The cost of the contract is proportional to a city's population, bringing Medical Lake's contract to $4,413, based on a population of 4,910. The city of Spokane had the highest annual cost, coming in at $187,929. Total overall operating costs for the services is budgeted at $424,794.72.

Minor changes to the emergency services contract have taken place since last year, deputy director Tom Mattern said. Most were grammatical in nature, and clarifying that the Spokane County Sheriff didn't have a vote on the policy board.

With summer winding down, the sidewalk project along SR 904 near Stanley Street was nearing completion.

The third and final solar-powered aerator is in place in Medical Lake. Now, the lake is completely powered by solar plants, helping to save the city some funds down the road. This year, results from oxygen tests in the lake have proven to show the lake is very healthy, although it will behave like any other body of water and turn over several times throughout the year.

“The test numbers are better than they've ever been,” Ross said.

James Eik can be reached at james@cheneyfreepress.com.

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