Tacoma business leaders demand city address crime

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

We don’t talk a lot about Tacoma, Washington here.

Part of that is, well, it’s Tacoma. There doesn’t ever seem to be much happening there to talk about, especially compared to cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and so on.

But like most cities, they’re having problems with crime. It’s kind of a thing right about now, unfortunately, and it’s causing problems. It’s bad enough that business leaders in the community are stepping up and demanding the city do something about it.

Hundreds of people from across Tacoma gathered at the LeMay – America’s Car Museum on Wednesday night to raise the alarm on problems affecting their businesses.

From break-ins of employees’ cars to vandalism to homeless encampments, business owners demanded action from the city to address their concerns.

The event was organized by Tacoma Safe, a community group that formed last year in response to repeated complaints from business owners about crime and lack of police response.

The meeting was attended by high-ranking public figures, including Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards, new police chief Avery Moore, Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier and Pierce County Prosecutor Mary Robnett.

Meanwhile, a few dozen people gathered outside the museum to protest a potential camping ban that has been supported by members of the Tacoma Safe group. Cathy Pick, chair of the Tacoma Tenants Organizing Committee, was one of the them and said the focus should be on housing people rather than increasing police and putting people in jail.

It should be noted that this “camping ban” isn’t about people who set up a tent at your standard campsite, but homeless people who have infested the city.

Now, I have sympathy for many of the homeless, but let’s also be clear that many of those folks are desperate and are the source of a lot of crime. Maybe that desperation makes it understandable to you, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re committing crimes and stealing for innocent people.

And a camping ban would serve to at least disperse the homeless to some degree. It should minimize the homeless problem.

But wouldn’t housing them do the same thing?

Maybe. The problem is that a large portion of the homeless population are homeless because of their own issues. While some are just temporarily down on their luck and would benefit from housing efforts, a lot of them seem to have no interest in getting back on their feet.

I’ve seen this myself.

Now, I won’t get into what percentage are which, mostly because I don’t know, but I do know that you can actually try and help the homeless and protect people’s property.

Especially since it’s really just a matter of time before this crime turns violent and innocent people end up being injured or killed.

When that happens, I’m pretty sure all those people who were yelling outside aren’t going to be found anywhere.

Compassion is all fine and good, but you also have to be realistic about the threats that can spawn from homeless encampments.