Police officers observations of Vashon
By Alexander Wolf, Reporter
Vashon is typically seen as a safe community with a low crime rate, which means that two police officers is all the island needs. On a typical Vashon day, there are usually only two or three cops patrolling, many of whom are not from the island. Due to the small size of the force, few residents know the point of view of law enforcement on Vashon.
Albert Elliot grew up in Tacoma and joined the army before he was hired by a police department in Tucson, Arizona. After several years working in Tucson, Elliot moved back to Washington and began working for the Seattle Police Department.
Elliot began working on Vashon in June of this year.
“Vashon is a welcoming community. … The residents on Vashon are friendly and cooperative,” Elliot said. “My first impressions of Vashon were positive. I appreciated the beautiful scenery and the water.”
Elliot’s interest in law enforcement began when he attended an assembly run by the Tacoma Police department in elementary school.
“I started thinking about becoming a police officer in the fourth grade when ‘Harvey’ and ‘Buelah’ came to an assembly at my elementary school,” he said. “They were the ‘talking’ motorcycles from the Tacoma Police Department that gave safety talks.”
After observing this safety demonstration, Elliot became increasingly interested in the work of law enforcement.
“From then on, I was enthralled with what the police did … and the opportunities associated with being a police officer,” Elliot said.
Elliot was impressed by the agreeable nature of Vashon’s community.
“It seems to be a community where not only does everybody knows everyone else, but … where the people care for each other, ” he said.
However, the rural environment on Vashon can pose problems for law enforcement.
“Some of the difficulties on Vashon include the rural nature of the homes and varied geography,” Elliot said. “Some homes don’t have very visible addresses … or have communal addresses that are located on a shared main driveway.”
On a more humorous level, Elliot has observed that, in contrast to the common belief that Islanders tend to be poor drivers, he has observed that Vashon drivers are not that different from drivers elsewhere.
“In the main part of town … drivers are especially cognizant of pedestrians and are especially careful at that intersection,” Elliot said. “For the most part, drivers on Vashon understand the dangers of excessive speed, curved roadways, and renegade deer, and [they] drive accordingly.”
Due to the island’s small size, the police station located in town has all that is required for law enforcement to operate.
“The station that’s located in the Vashon Rural Service Center … has all of the equipment that is needed, albeit in a smaller quantity and area,” Elliot said
Overall, Elliot has a positive opinion regarding his time as an officer on Vashon.
“In general, Vashon Island is a picturesque and quiet community as I’m sure the people that live there like it to be.”