Poulsbo neighborhoods forming block watches

Poulsbo Police Sgt. John Halsted speaks with Poulsbo residents about block watches and the work he has done with the Bremerton SOG. - Richard D. Oxley
Poulsbo Police Sgt. John Halsted speaks with Poulsbo residents about block watches and the work he has done with the Bremerton SOG.
— image credit: Richard D. Oxley

POULSBO — Neighborhoods in Poulsbo have begun forming block watches, with encouragement from the city, to combat the presence of heroin in the community.

Mayor Becky Erickson recently met with various neighborhoods, including Forest Rock, Ridgewood and 9th Avenue. The three locales have now begun an organized block-watch effort. She plans to meet with residents of 11th Avenue and Deer Run about forming their own block watches.

Erickson had a heart-to-heart with approximately 20 residents of downtown and Fjord Drive on Feb. 3, at city hall.

She said she ran for mayor not knowing she’d have to deal with heroin as an issue.

“This is really ugly stuff,” Erickson said of heroin use in the city and associated crime.

The mayor invited the audience to discuss the formation of block watches — organized neighbors who watch out for one another and keep an eye out for suspicious activity.

It’s part of the city’s plan to combat the prevalence of heroin in the community.

“Poulsbo is the kind of town where people come to raise their families, and people feel they can leave their doors unlocked and everyone knows one another,” Erickson said. “Through this, I’ve felt a loss of innocence. It’s one of the reasons we’ve acted so quickly.”

Erickson, with several Poulsbo police officers, engaged residents, encouraging them to organize and to get to know local police.

“It’s really up to them to put the pieces together in their own neighborhoods,” Erickson said, noting that the city is there to help advise the block watches.

The aim is to tackle crimes and heroin use by having residents report suspicious activity to police.

“Our problem with heroin in the city of Poulsbo is no worse than on Bainbridge Island or the surrounding county, Silverdale, Bremerton, Seattle, Kirkland. It is no worse,” she said.

“When we have problems in Poulsbo and they are causing hardship, we don’t ignore it. We don’t stick our head in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist.”

She added, “If you see something suspicious, call 911. We need the information and with that information we can put the pieces together and combat what’s going on. Watch out for your neighbor and call 911.”

It’s important, Erickson said, to take note of seemingly insignificant but suspicious activity, because crimes such as theft are related to the heroin problem.

“Why the emphasis on crime?” she said. “Because all this activity is what’s paying for drugs.”

The crowd also got a briefing on police efforts in Poulsbo from Sgt. John Halsted.

Halsted, though on the Poulsbo payroll, works with the Bremerton Special Operations Group (SOG), tasked with investigating drug crimes in the region.

He led the crowd through a sequence of recent events that culminated in multiple arrests, all involving drugs in Poulsbo.

Poulsbo police arrested a man found in possession of a stolen firearm, 27 grams of heroin, 61 grams of methamphetamine, and $8,200 cash.

“He really doesn’t have a criminal history,” Halsted said. “He’s a guy that grew up here, went to North Kitsap High School.”

“He’s suspect No. 1. Suspect No. 2 is his girlfriend,” he continued. “She is also a drug dealer and sells methamphetamine and heroin … she had no criminal history as an adult.”

The two arrests gave detectives insight into drug deals in the area and led police to a house on 9th Avenue in Poulsbo. Police performed an undercover buy of heroin from a suspect living at the 9th Avenue house. From there, they made more arrests.

The cases led to five arrests, all involving heroin and methamphetamine.

Halsted told the tale as an example of what police are doing about the prevalence of heroin in Poulsbo.

He laid out how drugs were entering the area.

“Heroin comes from Mexico, across the border, it generally flows through Yakima, then goes to the Seattle area and disperses out from there,” he said.

Within the past two months, SOG made five arrest in Poulsbo, and seized 54.5 grams of heroin, 76 grams of meth, more than $10,000, two handguns (one was allegedly stolen from a Marysville home), and a car involved in the crimes.

Another recent SOG case took in $300,000 cash and more than 600 Percocet pills, and discovered a marijuana grow with 143 plants.

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