Monthly Archives: May 2007

Night Time “Click It Or Ticket” Coming

Here’s a statistic most Washingtonians do not know: we wear our seat belts more than anyone else in the country.

In fact, 96 percent of us buckle up every time we hit the road, well above the nation’s average of 81 percent, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

Still, that number isn’t good enough, the commission believes, so it is turning to night-time cops to enforce Washington’s seat belt law.

How will they see you not wearing your belt at night?

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Olympia Wrap Up: Of Prisons and Cell Phones

The 2007 Washington state legislative session ended with lawmakers making sizable impacts on the criminal justice system, including a state prison overhaul and a ban on driving with a cell phone to one’s ear.

Here’s a bill-by-bill, blow-by-blow look at how your life will be different (especially if you work in the criminal justice spectrum) due to the actions of the legislature:

SB 5037
Sponsored by Kitsap’s own Senator Phil Rockefeller, D-Bainbridge Island, 5037 restricts overall “wireless communications,” in cars.

How it fared and what it means: It passed in tight votes in both legislative houses, with no clear party line vote. The law won’t apply to certain drivers — emergency vehicles, for example — and an officer giving a ticket for talking on a cell phone must have another, more significant infraction he’s already giving you. It won’t take effect until July 1, 2008 — plenty of time for you to go purchase a cell phone headset for talking while driving.

Here’s the other bills …

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Vandals Surge with the Season?

Many of the police officers I’ve consulted on the job have told me of a correlation between nice weather and not-so-nice people.

The hotter it gets, the more emboldened Kitsap’s criminal element becomes, they say. I too have noticed that the summer months see our cops more stressed than the rest of the year.

If there is truly more crime in the summer, the same holds true for vandalism. And over the weekend, the North Mason School District was the target of perhaps the biggest spate in that category seen on the Great Peninsula thus far this year.

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Third Strike, Apparently, was Just A Bit Outside

Just as a pitcher must meet an umpire’s strike zone, a judge must find a crime meets a number of elements to make a ruling.

For Wayne Sherman Postlethwait, a 50-year-old Central Kitsap man found guilty by jury in March of robbing the East Bremerton Bank of America last July, a judge had to make the call as to whether his offense fell under Washington’s “three strikes” law.

Postlethwait, with previous convictions of robbing a 7-Eleven for cash and beer with a gun in Idaho in 1980, and then again for robbing two people with a “gun or facsimile of a gun” in Utah in 1985, was eligible for the “three strikes” law, known in attorney’s circles as the Persistent Offender Accountability Act.

Postlethwait, then, was looking at a third strike — which mandates a life sentence.

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Yes, Our Cops Do Give Jay-Walking Tickets

Of all crimes, “jay-walking” is typically regarded as the slightest of all traffic infractions, whose suspects generally invoke a phrase along the lines of, “Don’t you have anything better to do, officer?”

Well, don’t be too quick to judge, jay-walk naysayers. Police can write a ticket for “pedestrian crossing not at a crosswalk,” under the Revised Code of Washington statute 46.61.240. And when an officer deems that a person’s unlawful crossing is a risk to public safety — a driver perhaps, or even jay-walkers themselves — the infraction can serve a purpose, Bremerton Police’s Community Resource Officer Andy Oakley told me.

Take the case of four people in downtown Bremerton early Thursday morning.

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The Tennis Ball Test

Throw the tennis ball, says Kitsap Humane Society Operations and Kennel Manager Judy Tarabochia, and see how hard the dog works to find it.

It’s a tennis ball test of sorts — one Tarabochia says law enforcement uses to find dogs that have the drive to become “K-9s.”

The ones that work to no end to get the ball have a good chance, Tarabochia says.

Pictured is narcotics detection dog Rascal, with his handler, Suquamish Sgt. Jeff Crippen.

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Parking Tickets: Surrender or Square Off?

Most of us know this feeling: you’re walking to your car, you’ve got your keys out, and you’re all set to turn your engine over and drive away.

But there’s that thin sheet of paper slipped under your wiper blades that threatens to pinch your pocket.

Well, I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve gotten a few parking tickets around here. And I think most of us would confess to that.

With most fines for outstaying our parking space welcome being in the neighborhood of $20 to $40, I think most of us give up the fight — even if we think the ticket was wrongfully issued — and write the check, recognizing that fighting a parking ticket isn’t worth our time.

But when I received a ticket at the Kitsap County Courthouse last week, I wasn’t ready to roll over.

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Amber’s Reach

When the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office last week launched an Amber Alert to find a missing North Kitsap infant, the story hit newspaper web sites and aired on TV and radio stations almost immediately.

We hear often about Amber Alerts around the country, and every now and then, they hit close to home, as was the case in a separate story last August involving a 3-year-old Bremerton girl who’d been taken from a local home.

But how did this method come into practice?

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Ask A Cop: Are Garbage Trucks Exempt from Law?

Blogger’s Note: Columnist-slash-cop Steve Sutherland, a veteran officer with the Bainbridge Island Police Department, is making his weekly appearance to field another question from commenters. Feel free to write more questions or responses below. For past editions, click here.

The question, from Tyler in North Kitsap: I have a question about the securing your load law. We were following one of the big garbage trucks the other day on Highway 3 and plastic bags and other garbage was blowing out of it. A plastic garbage bag hit our window and stuck to it and we had to pull over to get it off. It was good that it stuck to the passenger side of the windshield or my mom would not have been
able to see. Are garbage trucks exempt from the law?

The answer, from Officer Sutherland: Thanks for the question; it’s a topic that officers are frequently asked about.

Garbage trucks are not exempt from covering their loads or otherwise preventing the material from escaping.

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‘It Never Leaves You’

Every 24 hours, a law enforcement officer commits suicide.

That statistic, according to the Tears of A Cop web site, is staggering to me.

Officer suicide has been in the news recently, after a 38-year veteran of the Roseville Police Department (in Minnesota) killed himself. A Pioneer Press article by Dave Orrick states that cop suicide is under-covered by the media at best, sometimes because many in law enforcement don’t talk about it.

Which may be the problem, the story adds.

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