I met with Lt. Kathy McAlpine, the Sector 4 commander for the Tacoma Police Department, about McKinley.
She’s been at her current job about a year and a half. She inherited a section rife with drive-by shootings and gang-related crime. She said the community organizations have grown in size and influence:
They’ve been great about wanting to make this a neighborhood and investing in it emotionally. One neighbor built planters out front, and several other houses have other planets. Or they’ll hang up wreaths at Christmastime. And on the flip side, you have some folks who have been here 30 years. They both have a commitment to the area, and both groups are coming to better.
She said crime is getting better, but the job isn’t done yet:
You wish you could sit back, take a breath and enjoy it, but we’re not there yet. At the same time, you see an improvement. I can’t tell you how many blighted houses we’ve dealt with.
A convenience store South 34th Street and Pacific Avenue is still seen by many in the neighborhood as attracting nuisance crime, but McAlpine says the police have talked to the store owners and they’re working together to make things better. She said the store has fenced off part of its property and the owners will undergo an alcohol training session where they’ll be urged to adopt a 100 percent ID check policy.
They were saved last week with a chronic use and abatement letter, and they’ve done everything we’ve asked of them. … They want to be a partner. They don’t want to voluntarily remove the high-octane alcohol yet. But within a few months, they’re in the (Alcohol Impact Area) and they’ll have to remove it from their shelves anyway.