White Swan Trying to Fix Crime Problems - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

White Swan Trying to Fix Crime Problems

WHITE SWAN, Wash - People from local and federal law enforcement agencies met with the small town of White Swan Tuesday night.  Some in the town say crime is a growing problem in their neighborhoods and they need help to fix it.

It all comes down to resources and money.  Yakima County takes up over 40,000 square miles, it is tough to have an officer or deputy in the right place at the right time says Lt. Max James of the Yakima County Sheriff's Office.

One father in White Swan explains recent crime he experienced when he left his teenage son and other children home alone.

"My kids were in the house sleeping, then they [an intruder] tried to break in and kick in the door. My son called me and he said, 'dad someone is trying to kick in the door.' And I said grab your gun and go upstairs," explained Pernell Watlanett, a lifelong resident of White Swan.

People in White Swan had similar stories to tell at a town hall meeting. 

Richard Lewis says he tried to call the police to report a crime and the dispatcher told him their are no officers available.

"I mean what are we supposed to do?" asked Lewis, a who raised a family in White Swan.

"Depending on the calls we may not have anyone available," says Lt. James.

"I think the main thing is that the tribal police are definitely understaffed," says Chief Davis Washines of the Yakama Nation Tribal Police.

Members from the F.B.I., State Patrol and U.S. Marshals Service listened to people's concerns and what changes could help.  One solution is to have tribal police move back into a substation in White Swan that they once used.  But the issue of enough man power came up. 

Still the panel heard the outcry from the community and has a better understanding on what is happening there.

"This used to be a community where people left their doors unlocked, that is gone, it has been gone for a long time," says Watlanett.

More meetings plan to be scheduled to figure out solutions.

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