The Washington Organized Retail Crime Association (WAORCA), under the direction of Robert Nelson, has been actively working with communities throughout Washington state, including community leaders, law enforcement, prosecutors, and retail loss prevention officers.
Last Friday, the City of Lakewood held its first ORC Summit, focusing on public safety and retail crime at the Lakewood City Council Chambers.
Mayor Jason Whalen kicked the meeting off, confirming his support of the Lakewood Police Department’s successful efforts of addressing public safety—issues common to most communities in Washington State. “Sixty-two percent of the Lakewood city budget is allocated for public safety,” he confirmed.
The mayor introduced the city’s Chief of Police, Mike Zaro, who said, “Retail crimes are becoming more violent. Criminals are not rational, and oftentimes, they are under the influence of narcotics. Thefts are supporting drug habits.”
Zaro pointed out that with COVID reducing jail capacity and the state supreme court’s Blake Decision, the challenges have only worsened. However, the city has been able to outsource criminal lockups to the Nisqually Tribe’s jail south of town. Even with a reduced budget, the department’s policies have helped to reduce crime over the past year.
During City Prosecutor Samantha Johnson’s remarks, she made it clear the Lakewood justice system “…does not lay out the welcome mat for thieves. We have no threshold to prosecute. If someone commits a crime, and we have sufficient evidence, we file charges, regardless of the amount.”
Mark Johnson, WR VP of Government Relations, Robert Nelson, and WR Director of Communications, Robert Haase, closed the meeting with information on available resources for the city’s businesses.
The next local ORC meeting will be in King County, hosted at the Tukwila City Hall on January 12. Contact Robert Mosley to RSVP by email at [email protected].