People Living In Vehicles Present Challenges For Neighbors And Police In Everett, WA

April 13, 2018

Everett Government

abandoned car

This SUV was not running and had a shopping cart full of stuff next to it on Wednesday evening.

car

After a visit from Everett Police Wednesday evening the owner had someone help tow it away Thursday morning.

At Wednesday night’s Everett City Council meeting two residents who live in north Everett spoke during the public comment section regarding a car parked on 24th street across from Bagshaw Field and North Middle School.

The ladies expressed concerns that there were people living in the car which apparently did not run and that their pleas to Everett Police to do something about the car were being ignored. One lady said she was told that due to people living in the car and a recent court decision in Seattle there was little Everett Police could do. You can see the testimony in front of the city council here.

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman and an Everett Police night shift Lieutenant met with the ladies after their public testimony. Later that evening an Everett Police patrol unit contacted the car in question and on Thursday morning the owner of the car had someone help him tow it away. On Thursday MyEverettNews.com submitted a series of questions to Chief Templeman about the issue and today we received the following response.

1) Are Everett Police limited in contacts with people living in non-operable vehicles on city streets?

In March 2018, a King County Superior Court judge ruled that the City of Seattle’s impoundment of a vehicle in which someone had been living violated the 8th Amendment Excessive Fines Clause and the state’s homestead act. As a result of this ruling, the Everett Prosecutor’s Office continues to review the case and has advised the Everett Department to exercise due diligence when responding to reports of abandoned vehicles or complaints in which officers verify that an occupant is indeed living inside the vehicle. Officers will work with the vehicle occupants to offer services and assist them in moving their vehicles. If those efforts fail and the vehicle continues to negatively impact the neighborhood, impoundment of the vehicle still remains an option. If there is criminal activity associated with people living in their vehicles, Everett Police will still investigate and take enforcement action if officers develop probable cause for an arrest.

2) Are people being told not to call again once a car has been contacted by police?

No, residents may call our Parking Enforcement Office at (425) 257-8437 (North of 41st) or (425) 257-7505 (South of 41st), the Snohomish County 911 non-emergency line at (425) 407-3999, or 911 to report suspected criminal activity. An Everett police officer or parking enforcement officer will respond and evaluate the situation and take action, as necessary and authorized by law.

3) In this case the police administration tasked an officer with contacting the car immediately after a public complaint to the city council. Is that the preferred method for people to take once they feel they aren’t being heard through the regular channels? It worked for these ladies.

Residents are welcome to address City Council with any concerns they have, but the preferred method for reporting parking violations and suspected drug use is to work through the Police Department’s Patrol division by calling 911, or Parking Enforcement at the numbers listed above. Community members may also elevate their concerns to a supervisor within the police department if they are not satisfied with the initial police response.

4) What do you want people to know about what they can do in such situations?

These are obviously very complicated cases. Law enforcement response is not only dictated by federal, state and local law, but also current case law and the condition of the individual(s) contacted. Oftentimes officers encounter subjects suffering from mental health or addiction issues, which only increases the complexity of the situation. The City and police department clearly understand the concerns of residents whose quality of life is negatively impacted by people living in vehicles and motorhomes in their neighborhoods. We encourage residents to report such situations to police in the manner described above and to allow our patrol officers, parking enforcement officers, social workers and community outreach and enforcement officers to work with these individuals in order to develop a solution that not only works for the neighborhood, but also for those living in their vehicles.

Thanks to Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman for his quick response to our questions and to the two ladies for bringing their frustrations to the Everett City Council. Everett, Washington is not alone in facing these challenges and it is a situation with no fast, easy solutions.



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About myeverettnews

My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring breaking news and events in Everett, WA. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett. It's written by Leland Dart a former Snohomish County based radio reporter born and raised in Everett.

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