Letters to the Editor

Residents should have been better informed | Letters | Jan. 22

As I reflect on the (Jan. 7) law enforcement activities in the Grand Forest, which abuts our property, I am concerned about the nonexistent communication between local law enforcement agencies and my neighborhood, which was majorly impacted by their six-hour “maneuvers” that entailed the use of 51 armed law enforcers and two hovering helicopters.

I was made aware of this invasion by a phone call from a neighbor who told us to lock our doors until we could ascertain the circumstances that demanded such a concentrated presence. Knowing that many neighbors were home alone and that they lived in fairly isolated, woodsy settings, I alerted them first by a phone chain and then called 911 for explanation.

A member of the Bainbridge Island Police Department fairly promptly called back to say this was just an exercise to test co-ordination between local area law enforcement agencies, the FBI, State Highway Patrol and three local police departments.

When I asked why citizens of the neighborhood were not apprised of this plan and if he didn’t agree that we had to right to be alerted, he answered: “This was just planned two days ago. We initially envisioned being just a small group and we didn’t have time to do that.”

His answers were excuses and I soon learned, via the media, they were only partially true. A manhunt for Brad Steve Robinett, wanted for armed robbery, car theft and burglary was taking place in our own back yards. I subsequently learned that this fugitive had been suspected of using the Grand Forest in his nefarious activities dating back to September.

As a result of this “maneuver,” neighbors were unable to get to their homes or have clients get through the police dragnet for appointments with them. Of greatest import, is the fact that many of us now feel less – not more – confident of the decision-making process of local law enforcement.

Let’s consider a different scenario in which the neighbors were alerted last September to the possible presence of Mr. Robinett, described as being heavily armed and dangerous and who was driving a stolen Honda Pilot. We could have acted as a Neighborhood Watch for his car as well as for unusual activity in and around the park.

We also could have been more mindful about securing our homes and cars these past four months. And finally, by working as an informed team, the Mandus Olson-Grand Forest neighbors would not now feel like victims.

Suellen Cunningham

Bainbridge Island

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