Drop in Wapato crime leads to safer streets

WAPATO, Wash. -- The KIMA Crime Tracker learned crime in Wapato has been dropping and discovered it's been a community effort.

Abel Coronado notices a change in Wapato. He sees police driving by more often.

"They are patrolling. They are good people and smart," said neighbor Abel Coronado.

It's part of the reason Wapato police credit for a drop in crime. A city with a reputation for gang activity and violence now has less of it.

"It's a nice change," said Sgt. Logan of Wapato Police.

The city is seeing fewer graffiti hot spots, stolen cars and property theft. Logan says more neighbors are reporting crimes and testifying against suspects in court.

KIMA dug up the numbers, reported crime dropped nearly one half since 2011.

While reported crime has decreased in Wapato overall, activity downtown is an issue. Police tell me South Wapato Avenue is one of the Streets where cars are broken into and stolen.

"Four months ago, they stole my truck and about a year ago they tried to steal my car," said Coronado.

Police found Abel's truck, but the tires and stereo were gone. Despite seeing more patrols, he says it's not enough.

"I think downtown Wapato needs more police officers," said Coronado.

Wapato's police department has 10 officers on the force. Limited in resources, it assigns patrols where they're needed most.

Wapato is also dedicating one officer to follow up open investigations. That allows other officers to focus on large crimes and routine patrols.