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Sunnyside City Council asked to take steps to curb rising crime rate

The recent abduction of a woman from the Sunnyside Safeway store prompted a call for beefed up crime prevention during the Sunnyside City Council meeting Monday night.

The comments were made by former councilwoman Bengie Aguilar during a public comment period.

Noting there has been an increase in the number of auto thefts, Aguilar said she is very concerned about crime and asked council to come up with a plan of action.

Later during public comment, Sunnyside resident Don Outhet added, "I agree, the crime in Sunnyside has gotten way out of hand."

Aguilar called on council to take $200,000 budgeted for city hall renovation and apply the money to increased crime prevention measures such as security cameras at city parks or increased staffing.

Sunnyside Mayor Ed Prilucik responded by reminding Aguilar that she appeared before council several months earlier, and agreed to form a block watch.

"I'd like an update on that," he added.

Aguilar said she has been in contact with the Sunnyside School District and a block watch committee is forming. "We haven't got the committee together," she said.

Noting that Aguilar brought several city residents to that earlier meeting, Prilucik encouraged her to continue her efforts. "That energy can be used to help the police department," he said.

Councilman Bill Gant said the city is available to assist with block watch programs, but that it is ultimately up to neighborhoods to pull together and get the process started.

Gant added that he would like to see council and the police department work together to see how existing programs can be improved before spending additional city funds on new crime prevention efforts.

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