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Longview Field Office Staff Honored for Achieving DOC’s Vision of Working Together for Safe Communities

May 27, 2015

By Kevin Rentner, Community Corrections Supervisor

and Christopher Lippl, Community Corrections Officer

Picture of Christopher Lippl receiving award.

Community Corrections Officer (CCO) Christopher Lippl accepted the award from HNA Board Chairperson, Felicia Conley at the event.

Longview Community Corrections Officers are reducing crime and making a positive impact on one of the highest crime neighborhoods in the state. Their work was acknowledged on May 19 as the Highlands Neighborhood Association (HNA) presented the Community Partner Award to the Longview DOC Office to coincide with Governor Inslee’s proclamation of May as Community Action Month. Community Corrections Officer Christopher Lippl received the award on behalf of the Department. Other Longview field office staff present included CCOs Eric Morgan, Tracy Peters, Kasey Unruh and Justin Childers.

The Highlands, in southwest Longview, has a high rate of crime. In 2004, recognizing the need for neighborhood-based supervision of DOC inmates in that community, DOC established a two-person Highlands Outstation in a satellite office of the Longview Police Department (LPD). In March of 2007, the Highlands Neighborhood Association was formed as part of a grant-funded Highlands Revitalization Plan that focused on four needs: crime prevention; housing; economic development; and public facilities and services. The partnership between DOC and the HNA began shortly thereafter and continued to strengthen.

Though many DOC staff played a role in making the Highlands a safer community, several recent successes of DOC’s activities in the Highlands are because of the diligence of CCO Lora Klein, CCO Lippl’s former partner at the Highlands Outstation. At the time of the award presentation, CCO Klein (now a Community Corrections Specialist) was at a Section 3 award luncheon where Klein was honored after her selection as the Section 3 CCO of the Year. Her selection was based in large part on her work in the Highlands.

To reduce crime in the Highlands, last year CCO Klein approached the Longview Police Department about LPD/DOC patrolling on the weekends and nights. Combined with increased information sharing between these two agencies, these joint patrols proved very successful, resulting in a very high clearance rate of DOC warrants, and countless new felony arrests and solved crimes, as well as increased surveillance and accountability for DOC inmates residing in the neighborhood. In addition to CCOs Klein and Lippl, other CCOs also regularly participated as did several LPD officers; the joint patrols proved popular with the officers because of the clear results. Highlands residents and the HNA also took note of the high visibility patrols and provided anecdotal feedback that the joint efforts were decreasing crime and making neighbors feel safer.

But the increased cooperation between DOC and LPD was only one pillar of DOC’s involvement in the Highlands. Other areas of emphasis included work crew projects, and coordination with the HNA and other community partners.

  • Beginning in 2011, under CCO Klein’s direction, Community restitution (work crew) teams completed several projects in the Highlands. These efforts continued under two correctional officers subsequently assigned to the Longview Field Office. Among the projects completed were two that directly combated neighborhood crime: frequent removal of gang graffiti and a large project that removed overgrown brush that had been used to conceal criminal and vagrant activities.

  • Highlands Outstation CCOs participated in monthly meetings conducted by the Highlands Neighborhood Association with Felicia Conley (Board Chair) and Elizabeth Haeck (Project Advisor), addressing public concerns as well as developing ways to better assist each other in improving quality of life for families and children in the Highlands.

  • CCOs also maintained liaison with other agencies and helped to provide a safer environment in which those agencies could operate. DOC supported projects such as AmeriCorps’ Ramp Up /Spruce Up, Lower Columbia Community Action Program’s Food Lifeline (a nutrition program), and other locally promoted events.

  • CCOs had a presence at National Night Out Against Crime and other public events where they were able to meet Highlands residents, explore their concerns and share information about DOC and its efforts to make the Highlands safer and to improve the quality of life there.