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The Kitsap Sun staff writes about crime and criminal justice issues.
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Archive for May, 2009

Pros, Cons of Regionalizing 911 Dispatch Centers

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

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How “local” should 911 centers be? On one hand, a regionwide 911 call center could coordinate well with many different emergency responders and save money through economies of scale. On the other hand, a local dispatch center provides local jobs and ensures that dispatchers are acutely knowledgeable of their territory, guiding responders to every nook and cranny in the county.

These very issues were at stake in an article Wednesday in the Port Townsend Leader. In Jefferson County, leaders are contemplating farming out dispatch services to either Clallam or Kitsap county, says Allison Arthur.

The first sentence to her story says it all:

“Call 911 today in Jefferson County and odds are the dispatcher answering the call lives in the county and knows where the buffalo roam off State Route 19.”

How much is that worth? That’s what Jefferson County, it seems, must decide.


Heroin Smacks Vashon Island

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

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Someone’s pushing heroin on bucolic Vashon Island, the editor the Vashon Beachcomber said in a recent piece. Such a statement would not be unusual in Kitsap County, where the drug comes and goes with ease along several major thoroughfares. But when you’re a 10,000-some community where the outside world is only accessible by boat, even a little black tar heroin makes its mark.

Editor Leslie Brown interviewed a local drug counselor who confirmed his patients are hooked on smack, and someone’s bringing it on Vashon’s shores. The King County Sheriff’s sergeant assigned to the island is also aware of its presence.

The most important part of the story comes from the personal account given by a heroin addict’s mother. And get this: her son first tried oxycodone and became hooked on that. (Regular readers of this blog won’t be surprised.)

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AG Takes Aim at Fraudulent Charities

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

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The causes — police and fire departments, and veterans’ organizations — are worthwhile. Trouble is, the charities that claim to be donating to them are not.

Some local residents have reported to us recently that they’ve been badgered on the phone by callers claiming to be with reputable charities. And while they might be donating some of the money to such noble causes, chances are it isn’t much.

And often, callers from these organizations are aggressive and harassing in trying to get your money — a telltale sign a charity isn’t necessarily in that much of a “giving” mood.

State Attorney General Rob McKenna and Secretary of State Sam Reed have taken aim at such “badge” charities, and McKenna is using his office’s civil enforcement authority to crack down on them.

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Inmates Protest Life Sentences: ‘The Other Death Penalty’

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

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A new nationwide campaign kicks off today whose goal is to end the sentence of life without parole. The Other Death Penalty Project,” is starting by sending out the first of more than 900 organizing kits to prisoners across the country.

The project says 33,000 people are in America’s prisons today that will never see the outside again. And that, in the campaign’s eyes, constitutes a violation of a person’s Eighth Amendment rights protecting them from cruel and unusual punishment.

(Please feel free to take a poll on this subject at right.)

Interestingly, it is also taking aim at “those in the anti-death penalty movement who advocate for life without the possibility of parole as an alternative to the more obvious, traditional forms of execution,” a press release from the organization said. “Fundamentally, The Other Death Penalty Project believes that all prisoners should have, at least, the possibility of parole.”

They also cite this fact: that there are 12 prisoners in the entire rest of the world serving life without the possibility of parole for crimes committed as juveniles; there are more than 2,000 in the United States. And they call America worse than China or Iran for having so many given a sentence that locks the door and throws away the key.

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Traffic Crash Deaths in State, County Continue to Decline

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

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One death is too many. Yet there are still reasons — to continue — to cheer a plummeting number of deaths on our roads.

The Washington State Patrol reported this morning that vehicle deaths are “down markedly” in the first three months of 2009. That includes Washington, where 91 died in the first three months on roads, down from 108 in the same period in 2008.

Marsha Masters, head of the local MADD chapter, has just informed me that by May 19, 2008, we had 10 roadway fatalities. In the first four months of this year, we’ve had four.

The numbers were brought to the state patrol by way of the the National Safety Council.

To see a map and database of those who died on Kitsap’s roads in 2008, click here.

Here’s more from the Washington State Patrol’s release:

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Obama Picks Prominent Democrat, Gregoire Confidant for Federal Prosecutor

Monday, May 18th, 2009

President Obama has made his choice for the next U.S. attorney to represent Western Washington. Jenny Durkan, a longtime Seattle lawyer and well-known friend of Gov. Christine Gregoire, still has to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, but the chances of that look pretty good.

Seattle Times reporter David Postman wrote in 2005 that Durkan is a “friend, confidante and political counselor,” to our current governor. Here’s more from Postman’s article:

“Durkan is an experienced courtroom lawyer who earlier in her career specialized in defending people accused of white-collar crime. She is a scion of a prominent Washington Democratic family and a party activist with her own political ambitions.”

Durkan’s own Web site says she is “known for successful criminal and civil litigation, and for her continued civic leadership. Ms. Durkan is not just respected for obtaining favorable verdicts and multi-million dollar settlements, but also for her ability to resolve sensitive cases discreetly.”

While the spoils system is long gone, presidents are still able to reward their partisan counterparts with powerful posts. I can’t speak to other federal districts, but here in Western Washington, it has gone along party lines for at least these past two commanders-in-chief. President George W. Bush tapped two Republicans in John McKay and Jeffrey Sullivan; and  Obama has asked a Democrat.

Of course, there was high drama in terms of McKay’s post. And as it turns out, that was political too.

To me, the irony of all of this is while the appointment appears political, the office of federal prosecutor tends to be of non-partisan decision making.

The U.S. Attorney of Western Washington, like their fellow federal prosecutors around the country, commands much authority. They can pull citizens out of local courts and try them in federal courts, where sentences can be vastly higher. Federal courts tend to be, in my view, the “set-an-example-to-the-public” court. Here’s a good example.


Fight over Gun Rights Hinges not just on Second Amendment

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

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(Blogger’s note: To read earlier analysis and stories on the gun debate, click here. Please feel free to take the poll to the right of this page as well.)

The next “battlefield” over gun rights in America might not revolve around the second amendment, but rather its counterpart eight amendments down the page on the Bill of Rights.

Not familiar with the 10th Amendment? Here’s a quick refresher by way of Wikipedia:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

In the current issue of Time, Reporter Hilary Hylton dissects moves in several states to establish their own regulation on gun manufacturers, in an effort to circumvent the federal ones. Most recently, Montana passed a law to use its own regulations as long as the weapon was made in “Big Sky Country,” and it is kept for use therein.

Hylton reports that it’s likely the 10th Amendment debate will be headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.


A ‘Brazen Daylight’ Burglary and their Pearl-white Ranchero is Gone

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

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The Moyers live in “a nice, quiet, supposedly safe neighborhood,” along West Belfair Valley Road. But on Sunday, they had what husband John called “a huge eye opener.” They came home to find their 1964 pearl-white Ford Ranchero gone, in a “brazen daylight” theft, he said.

“The fact that someone in my family could have been killed or harmed by these criminals had we gotten back 10 minutes earlier, is a huge eye opener,” Moyer said.

They haven’t given up hope that their car will be found, and law enforcement has had some bites. “There have been a few sightings of the Ranchero, but by the time police arrive, it’s gone,” he said.

The Ranchero’s license plate number is B68910F, though that may have been chagned. It’s a 6 cylinder, 3 speed, and has some discoloration on rear driver side near back bumper. Anyone with information is urged to phone 911.

“Any help you can give in getting the word out, not to mention warning your readers that there’s dangerous daylight burglars out here, would be appreciated,” he said.


UPDATE: craigslist Drops ‘Erotic Services’ Ads that led to BI Arrests

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

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Here’s a story hot off the presses. Craigslist has dropped its “erotic services” ads following pressure from state attorneys general in several states. The lawyers contend such ads are advertisements for illegal sexual activities, according to an AP story.

You might remember that in February, police here used that category on craigslist to set up a sex sting at a Bainbridge Island hotel. Four women were ultimately arrested and charged. And today, a Kent man pleaded innocent in a craiglist murder for hire case.

Then came word this morning from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who said craigslist will create a new adult category that its Web site employees will review. She added that in seven days, “erotic services” ads will be gone.

“This change should significantly reduce the blatant misuse of Craigslist’s online classified ad service to promote prostitution,” our own state attorney general, Rob McKenna, said in a statement Wednesday. “It will only be successful if Craigslist follows through on its promise to actively monitor its site for illicit images and messages. If Craigslist does follow through, it will help state attorneys general and our law enforcement partners as we fight sexual exploitation to make our communities safer.”

Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster said Wednesday they’re creating a new, more closely monitored “adult services” category, according to the New York Times.

Nationally, craigslist has been pressured get rid of the ads following the killing of a masseuse by a medical student he met on the site.


Port Orchard Man Cited for Accidentally Firing Gun in Motel

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

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A stray bullet that ripped its way through three motel rooms in Bend, Ore., is alleged to have come from the gun of a Port Orchard man. David Baker, 46, accidentally fired his .40-caliber handgun in his own room at the motel, local authorities told TV station KTVZ.

Thankfully, no one was hurt at the motel, on the 700 block of NE Third Street. But police told the TV station that Baker was cited for reckless endangerment and second-degree criminal mischief, as well as unlawful discharge of a firearm in the city limits.

The bullet came to rest on a desk chair in the third room, police said.


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