Category Archives: Police

Oversight committee next step in police relations

bainbridgepolicebadgeThe City Council is moving forward with discussions on forming a public safety committee with the support of the police chief and residents.

The public safety committee, which would be made of three council members, was suggested by council members to improve police oversight and communication between the department and community.

“We’ve made so many important strides,” said Kim Hendrickson, founder of the grassroots group known as Islanders for Collaborative Policing. “It’s a different department now, and there’s a real commitment at the top level of the police department to interact positively with the community.”

The committee’s specific role and responsibilities will be discussed at a following council meeting, said City Manager Doug Schulze.

When and how often the public would be given notice of the committee meetings also will be reviewed.

Islanders for Collaborative Policing started in 2011, when police and resident communication was “terrible,” Hendrickson said.

“Sadly, up until the shooting death of Doug Ostling, people just didn’t talk openly about the police department,” she said. “It wasn’t the culture on this island to have an open conversation about it.”

In 2010, Ostling was shot by Bainbridge Island police after calling 911. A judge later ruled the city didn’t provide officers proper training to interact with residents that have documented mental health issues, like Ostling, and Ostling’s family was awarded a $1 million settlement nearly two years after the shooting.

The police department faced other scrutiny under former Police Chief Jon Fehlman.

In 2011, the department hired a volunteer reserve officer — giving him a badge and the authority to carry a gun — who had a criminal history, including a misdemeanor assault charge and a weapons charge.

Fehlman was the Bainbridge Island police chief during each of these issues. He resigned in September 2012.

The current police chief — Matt Hamner — has been working to rebuild community relations since he was hired in 2013, he said, including designating a community resource officer earlier this year.

Hamner said he welcomes questions from the community and is working to provide a transparent department.

“I think it’s important that the community, with their elected representatives, are able to see the progress and good work the police department is doing,” Hamner said. “And this is a great venue to accomplish that.”

Under Hamner’s direction, the department has a new mission, new training and new ways to document complaints, among other changes.

Transparency is part of the department’s transformation, Hamner added.

While he and Hendrickson both said improvements have been made in the police department, they also agreed there is more work to be done.

Seeing an oversight committee is one more aspect Hendrickson wants to see.

“We’ve been waiting for this for years,” she said. “This is a huge step in the right direction, if it happens.”

Read an extended version about changes in the police department on the Kitsap Sun website.

Police blotter for April 3 edition

polie_blotter_logoBike wreck
A man saw a young teenage girl walking down Hyla Avenue with a bloody face, wearing a bike helmet March 18 about 7 p.m.
She told the man she had flipped over her bike’s handlebars while going down Beach Crest Drive nearby and was trying to walk home, according to the police report.
She appeared disoriented and “not fully aware of her surroundings.”
Police found the bike in the bushes along Beach Crest Drive, and the girl was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for “treatment of significant facial injuries and head trauma.”

Missing bench
A city maintenance worker reported property damage and a stolen bench at the Port Madison Trailhead on March 25.
There were axe cuts in one picnic table and two stumps in place of where an old wooden bench had been, the police report said.
The bench legs had been “hacked away” to remove it.
The damage is estimated to be $500.

Police blotter for March 27 edition

polie_blotter_logoThief settles debt
A neighbor on the 200 block of Ericksen Avenue told police he spotted a stranger with a flashlight around an oil fuel tank at a nearby office on March 16 about 11 p.m.
While on the way to the call, Officer Trevor Ziemba saw a man biking southbound on Ericksen Avenue with a “large five gallon water jug on the back” with red fluid. The fluid matched what was dripping from the business’ oil tank, which is used to heat a furnace.
The man admitted to taking the fuel for his boat and told police he had done it one other time at the same oil tank, but that he would “make things right with the owner.”
He also told police that he took the heating oil because it has a “lower flash point and runs the [boat] engine better.”
The business owner called police two days later to let them know the man had “settled up” with him for stealing the heating oil and he did not want to press charges.

Found gun
A cyclist commuting from the island to Poulsbo for work found a small handgun with bullets in a black case along Highway 305 on March 16 about 9 a.m.
Police picked up the gun from the cyclist and found no record or information related to the gun based on its serial number.

Police Blotter for March 20 Islander

polie_blotter_logoMultiple mailbox thefts
A neighbor along the 10000 block of Duncan Lane saw a smaller, four-door SUV parked at group of neighborhood mailboxes March 5 around 7 a.m. as she walked her child to the bus stop.
The woman told police that when she walked toward the SUV, it drove to the next group of mailboxes and the driver reached into the mailboxes.
The next day she saw the SUV again taking mail from the mailboxes.
There also were piles of potentially stolen and discarded mail reported on March 6 along Miller Road near Bergman Road and two other incidents on North Madison Avenue, one which included stolen medication, according to Bainbridge Island police reports.
There was an earlier report of stolen mail on the 600 block of Winslow Way E on March 1.

Third site lands on list for new police station

The Bainbridge Island Police Station on Winslow Way.
The Bainbridge Island Police Station on Winslow Way.

The city is considering third site option for a police station.

The newest property being considered is nearly 9 acres of undeveloped land “outside the Winslow core.”

City officials did not provide an address, general location or cost estimation for the property.

The two other locations still being considered are a .75 acre property on Madison Avenue, north of City Hall, and 1.89 acres along New Brooklyn Road by the Bainbridge Island Fire Department headquarters.

All three sites are large enough to accommodate police, municipal court and the Emergency Operations Center.

The newest site option would leave room for expansion or building other city facilities. The city also could sell part of the property to reduce the overall project cost.

A “significant amount” of the land is buildable, although a portion is unbuildable, said City Manager Doug Schulze.

The site near the fire station headquarters could require a two-story building, resulting in a “loss of operational efficiency.” The land also has a slight slope, requiring a retaining wall.

The Madison Avenue property near City Hall does not have room for expansion, and would require a two-story building. The property is “marginally large enough for the police facility and required parking.”

While the Madison Avenue property is the smallest, it is closest to City Hall and would allow for a government campus.

Having a campus was one of the reasons city officials declined to build a joint station with the fire department. Council members also voiced concerns with being a tenant of the fire department.

Keeping the police station close to City Hall also allows for accountability, Schulze said.

“The citizens of the community have concerns about unnecessary use of force and expect police officers to be skilled in tactful communication, de-escalation, and crisis intervention,” according to Schulze’s memorandum to the council.

The city plans to make a final site selection by the end of June.

Police blotter for Feb. 27 islander

polie_blotter_logoDog poop smeared under car handles
After an argument between guests at a bed and breakfast and neighbors about where to park on the 11200 block of Wing Point Drive, dog feces were found smeared under the guest and his family’s car door handles on Feb. 20.
The neighbor was upset the guest had parked in her driveway while he waited for family members to leave the bed and breakfast. The guest told police he had only planned to leave the car there for a few minutes.
The neighbor said she did not put the dog feces on the car, “but that dog feces is common in the neighborhood.”

Can’t drive after smoking pot
Officer Sias found a an 18-year-old woman and 20-year-old man smoking pot in a parked car at Rotary Park ball fields off Weaver Road about 10:30 p.m. Feb. 24.
Sias’s report said he was concerned the man, who was in the driver seat, was going to try and drive after smoking. After he told them they couldn’t drive away, the woman had her mother come pick them up.

Cutting in line with a concealed weapon
After a pickup truck driver was confronted for cutting in line at the Winslow ferry terminal Sunday and said he had a concealed weapon, he drove off pointing his hand in the shape of a gun at the complaining man.
A man saw the white GMC pickup truck cut in line, grabbed a “report something” card from the ticket booth and put it on the truck’s windshield. That was when the driver told him he had a concealed weapon.
The man told police he was startled by the statement and finger pointing at first, but did not feel he was being threatened. He added that the driver was with his family and might have feared someone approaching the vehicle.

DUI with child, dogs in car
After reports of an SUV swerving into oncoming traffic on Highway 305, police found the vehicle — and its driver — in a parking lot Wallace Way off Madison Avenue just after midnight Monday morning.
Officer Ben Sias saw a woman, small child and two small dogs walking away from the Ford Explorer, which was not in a parking spot.
While the child said the dogs had been loose in the SUV, the woman told Sias she had about three drinks at an event in Indianola and the family had brought two cars.
The woman was slurring her words, had blood-shot eyes and was swaying, the report said.
After performing several sobriety tests, Sias asked the child to take the dogs into the apartment. After the child was gone, he arrested the woman.
She had blood alcohol breath samples that measured .179 and .172.

Police blotter for Feb. 20 Islander

polie_blotter_logoFireworks used to blow up mailboxes
Mailboxes on Bainbridge Island were recent targets of firework vandalism.
Bainbridge Island Police responded to three separate calls of exploding mailboxes on Feb. 10 — one on the 15700 block of Euclid Avenue, one on the 12200 block of North Madison Avenue and another on the 7100 block of Eagle Harbor Drive.
Reserve officer Mike Chamness heard a large explosion near Captain Johnston Blakely Elementary School that sounded like a firework or M-80 about 12:30 a.m. that day.
As another officer checked the neighborhood around the school there were multiple 911 calls about other firework explosions on the island.
A damaged mailbox was found shortly after on Euclid Avenue along with “remnants of an explosive device” that could have been a sparkler bomb, according to the report.
While a neighbor told police the mailbox owner had a dog that was not well liked in the community, other mailboxes on the island were blown up with similar fireworks later in the day.

Police blotter is back

polie_blotter_logoWe are bringing back the police blotter.

I’ll be posting weekly entries on Mondays. If there is a Monday holiday it will moved to Tuesday.

I won’t be typing up every reported crime. The Islander blotter will be similar to the Kitsap Sun’s Code 911 reports.

If you have questions about why an incident was or wasn’t in the blotter email me at rachel.seymour@kitsapsun.com.

Mail prowler on Bucklin Hill Road
A woman saw a man going through her and her neighbor’s mailbox around 5 p.m. while walking her dog home Jan. 22 on the 7800 NE Bucklin Hill Road.
The man had been cleaning the neighbor’s driveway when she walked by earlier, and he appeared to be with a window cleaning company, she told police.
The woman said she watched the man open the box, take out the contents and throw the box on the ground, before running after him and confronting him.
After he handed her the contents and told her he was just putting it back, she called 911.
The man was gone by the time police arrived, the report said.

Lockbox cut at waste facility
An employee of Bainbridge Disposal got to work Monday, Jan. 26 around 8:30 a.m. and discovered the gate unlatched and the lockbox cut open.
The lockbox had been intact the Friday before.
The employee was not sure if anything was missing from the lockbox, and the company is reviewing its surveillance video, the police report said.

Driver sends pedestrian spinning
A man walking across Hildebrand Lane in the crosswalk by Highschool Road Jan. 26 about 1:30 p.m. when he was hit by a vehicle, spinning him around and injuring his left arm. The man told police the driver stopped to shake his fist at him before diving south on Hildebrand Lane.
The man described the driver as an asian man in his 40s.
There was no description of the vehicle in the police report.

Community resource officer could help mend relationships with residents

 Bainbridge Island Police Department evidence technician Jennifer Cooper, Lt. Chris Jensen and Reserve Officer Mark Crowthers inspect ammunition turned in by a Bainbridge resident in 2013. TAD SOOTER / KITSAP SUN
Bainbridge Island Police Department evidence technician Jennifer Cooper, Lt. Chris Jensen and Reserve Officer Mark Crowthers inspect ammunition turned in by a Bainbridge resident. TAD SOOTER / KITSAP SUN

Bainbridge Island Police Department is looking to improve its once rocky relationship with residents through a designated community resource officer.

“When you have that good relationship of trust between officers and the community, we’re more effective,” said Police Chief Matthew Hamner.

City Council unanimously gave the department the go-ahead to apply for a federal grant that would cover 75 percent of the $100,000 annual salary and benefits of the community resource officer for three years. The department would cover the full cost the fourth year.

The community resource officer would be responsible for community related events and programs with the department, such as the citizen police academy, neighborhood watches and the police youth advisory group.

The community resource officer would be a liaison for the island schools, although it would be up to the schools how often the officer meets with students.

While the district has been without a school resource officer for more than a decade, there might not be a great demand for one just yet.

The district recently determined students and parents felt safe at the schools based on surveys and meetings with the police department, said Galen Crawford, communications specialist with Bainbridge Island School District.

Although residents don’t have a safety concern for the schools, community trust in the police department was waning and the City Council was split on whether to support a school resource officer before Hamner became chief in June 2013.

In May 2011, the council stalled in a 3-3 vote to apply for a school resource officer grant.

The city manager at the time, Brenda Bauer, blamed a Facebook post by Officer Michelle Vollmer for turning the council against the grant, a post Vollmer said was a joke.

Vollmer’s Facebook comment was one of a string of issues the Bainbridge Island Police faced.

In October 2010, a Bainbridge officer shot and killed a mentally ill man during a welfare check, ending in a $1.4 million lawsuit settlement and a federal jury finding the city and then Police Chief Jon Fehlman at fault for not providing enough training for handling situations with mentally ill residents.

Another officer — president of the Bainbridge police guild at the time — was accused of harassing City Council members the same month as the fatal shooting.

During the summer of 2011, the department hired a volunteer reserve officer — giving him a badge and the authority to carry a gun — who had a criminal history, including a misdemeanor assault charge and a weapons charge.

City Council learned about the reserve officer’s background a couple months after he was hired, and he was asked to resign.

Fehlman was the Bainbridge Island police chief during each of these issues. He resigned in September 2012.

Public support for the police department has been increasing, Hamner said, citing the council’s approval for a community resource officer and the police department having more residents apply for the citizen police academy than there were spots available.

“I think the chief has shown he has the best interest of this community and our children at hand time and time again,” said resident Dominique Cantwell, a former board member of the Bainbridge Youth Services.

A full story on the community resource officer grant will be available on the Kitsap Sun website.

This post has been updated to include a response from the school district.

Council narrows site options for police headquarters

Bainbridge Island police car

City Council nixed two locations from its site list for a new Bainbridge Island Police headquarters Tuesday night.

The council discussed four different options, removing the Visconsi development location and the city-owned gravel lot by City Hall, because both sites were viewed problematic locations.

Expansion at the gravel lot could affect future retail development options downtown, while the Visconsi location was seen as too far away from City Hall as well as having potential traffic issues.

The two locations still being considered are a site on Madison Avenue, adjacent to the north of City Hall, and 1.89-acres along New Brooklyn Road by Bainbridge Island Fire Station 21 on Madison Avenue, which was assessed for $232,000. A nearby 2.1 acre parcel to the New Brooklyn Road site sold for $1.3 million in November 2013, according to city documents.

The city will not provide any additional information on the property north of City Hall at this time, said City Spokeswoman Kellie Stickney.

Last fall, City Council voted 5-2 against a joint police and fire station.

City Manager Doug Schulze said the goal was to have the police headquarters near City Hall, while other council members voiced concerns about being a tenant to the fire department.

A Seattle architectural firm presented the idea of a joint facility by the fire station along New Brooklyn Road, where the city is considering purchasing 1.89 acres for a police station.

The architectural firm found in June that building a joint facility would cost $15.3 million, versus $17.6 million for building them separately. A June phone poll of 200 island residents found 87 percent favored a combined facility.

While location was the primary concern for the Visconsi location, couple council members had issue with the price tag of the site as well.

The Visconsi $2.05 million price tag includes the land, cost of a new road, utilities and project costs.

Bradley Goldberg, vice president of development, told Schulze in an email earlier this month there would need to be a “quick close” in 60 to 90 days to sell the city the land at $2.05 million.

Councilman Wayne Roth said he saw the Visconsi development offer as a “really strong invitation not to located there,” because the city had repeatedly asked for more information and a presentation nearly two months ago that were never provided.

The city had asked about the option to own the land after a lease, but was instead given a rent option.

Last month, Visconsi developers sent the city a letter of intent, outlining a general 20-year rental agreement with the city. The 24,500 square-foot building would be two stories. Rent would start at $943,250 a year and increase 10 percent every five years, being about $1.255 a year after 15 years, totaling more than $21 million over 20 years. The city would have the option to renew the lease every five years before an increase with the ability to end the lease with one year notice.

The city would be responsible for traffic impact fees, wiring and building the interior, including drywall, first floor slab, flooring and lighting.

The city is continuing to seeking other sites.

This post was updated to correct who owns the property on Madison Avenue by City Hall and typos from the City Council agenda, including information for the New Brooklyn Road property.

Experience a day in the life of a Bainbridge Island cop

An America's Most Wanted television crew sets up in the intersection of Winslow Way and Highway 305 on Bainbridge Island Thursday morning. In the police car is Bainbridge Island Police Officer Steve Cain who was involved in the car chase.
An America’s Most Wanted television crew sets up in the intersection of Winslow Way and Highway 305 on Bainbridge Island Thursday morning. In the police car is Bainbridge Island Police Officer Steve Cain who was involved in the car chase.

If you are interested in learning first hand what your local law enforcement does, apply for a hands-on learning experience with the Bainbridge Island Police Department. And it’s free.

The Citizens’ Police Academy is designed to show residents how the department functions, including everything from traffic enforcement, narcotics and criminal law to defensive tactics and investigations.

“The program was started to give citizens insight into what officers do while on patrol. It’s a great opportunity, as students get to gain a perspective of what happens behind the scenes, while also having the opportunity to get acquainted with some of the officers who serve them,” Chief of Police Matthew Hamner said in a news release.

While the academy is not intended to prepare people for a career in law enforcement, it is an opportunity better understand the job of local officers.

The academy is offered once a year. This year’s program runs on Tuesday nights from Tuesday, Feb. 10 through Tuesday, April 14. Classes are two hours long and start at 7 p.m. There are two optional Saturday sessions.

Students also have the opportunity to visit the CenCom 911 dispatch center, the Kitsap County Coroner’s Office and the Kitsap County Jail.

The class size is limited to 20 students.

For questions or an application, call the Bainbridge Island Police Department at 206-842-5211 or visit the department’s website.