Many of you may be familiar with the Highland Park (which we are a part of) neighborhood blog, NextDoor. If not, I suggest you JOIN and take a look at it when you have a few free moments (Nextdoor-Highland-Park-News-Feed). It has serious listings and fun ones (I.e., Has anyone seen my rooster, Charlie? He somehow flew the coop OR found scared little puppy, black and tan about 6 weeks old. Have him safe and warm, give me a call so we can get her home again.)
And there are a lot of serious postings. For me, the most meaningful are the ones about every 6 weeks from Police Officer Todd Wiebke of our local precinct. The latest one follows. When I asked our webmaster to post it, he asked that I contact the author and get his written permission to publish it, previous ones, and any he writes in the future. I did so and he replied:
"Please share whatever I write, it is yours. Arrowhead is right in the middle of things, and as bad as it looks sometimes, I want you to know I am out there. You guys are important to me and I share that with the homeless and demand their respect for your property. They try in their own way, to be good neighbors."
I encourage you to read his latest posting below. I have saved his previous ones and will submit them for posting shortly. They reflect an insight and compassion that are much needed.
Arrowhead Gardens Resident
Seattle PD officer gives voice to police working with homeless
Includes a video of Officer Todd Wiebke
Officer Todd Wiebke, Seattle Police Department
Because your mine, I walk the line. Johnny Cash
It is a thin line that I patrol on. The needs of the housed community to feel safe, the needs of the homeless community to feel safe, and my need to impound and remove drug addicted thieves from both communities.
I towed one of the motorhomes that has been overstaying its welcome in our residential area. I have a few more to sort out still. In the industrial area I towed two broken vehicles surrounded by old tires and debris that wasn't there a week earlier. I towed a trailer and had a man move his tent off of the side of the street. I was smiled at by motorists in my residential area and thanked by the business owners plagued by the issues surrounding the lives lived on narcotics.
On my way to Camp 2nd Chance to assist with a call concerning the chaos developing there, I past the broken motorhome and the broken car parked in a long line of broken things, I knew I had him this time. I was towing him for sure.
I walked past a beautiful church group serving warm meals to the campers, and the drug addicts and the crazies as they walked up with their needs bare for the whole world to see. I saw the church folks smile and care and dishing up some chicken and corn bread, not caring about the hair, or the halitosis. Not caring about the dirty clothes, the unwashed hands. Serving those in need.
I went into the camp and addressed the issue which is causing stress to the people for whom I have come to care a great deal about. I addressed everybody equally on all sides I think. But when one young lady whom I have known these last two years walked up to me trying to keep her emotions in check and told me that she doesn't like it here anymore; in the midst of all of this commotion about who is in charge, I saw who wasn't. I spoke to all about this mess and the fact that we were here trying something new, and that this stress and how we chose to deal with it is how we can define ourselves and move forward, or fall down and give in. Again I see the weakest amongst us over tasked with burdens designed for broader shoulders.
I am weary. This is breaking me down, but I cannot stop. I walk out the gate and see a woman emerge from a wetlands area and decide to talk to her. Her matted clumped hair hid a face that had not seen happiness in many moons. She approached me with trepidation as I asked her if she was camping where I had seen her come from. She said yes and I explained that it was a wetlands and she couldn't camp there. She began crying and told me she did not have the strength to move. Her boots fell from her hand as she stood crying in her sock feet in sharp gravel. Her stump of a cigarette burned her lips and she spit it at me, realizing in horror what she had just done. She apologized and like a beaten dog prepared to get hit. I smiled. I told her it was okay. I told her she should hurry over and get a hot meal from the church ladies, and that we would talk tomorrow. She told me her name, and I told her my name was Todd. She stared at me for a minute and then hustled to get her some warm cornbread and fried chicken.
I looked across the street and saw a great big wreck of a pickup pulling a bigger mess of a used up travel trailer. I pulled out into the center turn lane and addressed the lady next to the truck. You cant park here, I will end up impounding your truck. She told me her story. She wasn't high, or drunk and looked like she never had been. I told her my name, she told me hers. I gave her the Navigation phone number and told her that they might be able to help. She patted me on the arm and told me how great I was. I told her she should go grab some chicken at the camp. She said they looked like wonderful people and I told her they were.
I made my U turn and headed down to the motorhome that I was going to impound. But in the line a hulking man stood. His broken body bent over, his broken mind hidden behind wild hair and blue mascara. He smiled feebly and waved at me as I drove down to take his motorhome.
I couldn't do it.