Kitsap Crime and Justice

The Kitsap Sun staff writes about crime and criminal justice issues.
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When in Doubt, Call Them Out

April 25th, 2007 by josh farley

To Kitsap County Prosecutor Russell Hauge, reporting to 911 any residents who’ve made threats referencing the Virginia Tech Massacre is a critical duty.

The prosecutor equates doing so with those brave enough to report domestic violence: that it is what he calls “homicide prevention.”

“The worst possible outcome is for someone … not to do something about it,” Hauge said.


There have been at least two people arrested in Kitsap County on suspicion of felony threats charges that relate to the Virginia shootings.

In both cases, 911 calls initiated a law enforcement investigation, and resulted in prosecutor’s charges.

Incidents like Virginia Tech and the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 tend to create a heightened sense of public fear that someone else could follow the respective murderers’ footsteps.

The message, again, from police and Hauge is make the 911 call, just to be safe.

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3 Responses to “When in Doubt, Call Them Out”

  1. Miriam Says:

    This is an issue of major concern, in my mind. You have, on one hand, an individual making a very poor choice in timing with a threatening statement. On the flip side, free speech gets squelched after events like this because everyone is so paranoid. I have a bad feeling that people report even those they KNOW aren’t serious because they’re terrified of what will happen if they don’t.

    I suspect the delay in time between the South Kitsap man’s statements and the police report are because his coworker didn’t even take him seriously. In all honesty, he probably WOULDN’T have done anything. I imagine we’ve all been frustrated or angry enough to say something that we don’t really mean, just to vent, just to feel less powerless.

    At the end of the day, everyone knows that kind of backlash is initiated by these kinds of events. People who don’t stop to think before they make a reference to a very recent crime are asking for it to some extent. I just consider myself fortunate I don’t associate with people who make statements like that so I don’t have to find myself in that kind of situation, because I still don’t know how I would weigh mass hysteria versus my strong belief in freedom of speech.

    “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it.”

  2. TJ Says:

    I certainly believe in freedom of speech but when someone is speaking of killing people it has crossed the line in my opinion. Threats of that type are a crime. I am not a mental health professional and would not be able to judge any persons breaking point. How many times have we heard on the news of someone who murdered and the neighbors are shocked because the murderer seemed like such a nice man/woman? And then to find out in hindsight how many warning signs there were that no one acted on. As for timing, there always is a rash of these threats after a horrendous tragedy such as Virginia Tech or Columbine but it happens at any time. We encourage our kids to report threats or overheard plans to their teachers or parents if they hear or see something that may be dangerous. Sure people may say something they don’t really mean to act on, but I don’t want to be the one who turns the other cheek and takes the chance on preventing a crime or not. Leave that up to the law enforcement agencies to figure that out.

  3. Sharon O'Hara Says:

    I would have no trouble reporting such an occurrence.
    The idea of living with the possible horrible consequences of not reporting gives me no choice….an easy decision.

    Mob hysteria happens… but not when such occurrences are QUIETLY investigated without the media play for sensationalism..
    A reporters opinion and bias can influence the tone of any article…. In my opinion.
    Sharon O’Hara

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