Kitsap Crime and Justice

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Archive for June, 2010

Al Qaida Bomb or Tribal Fireworks? The Ferry Dogs Won’t Sniff the Difference

Monday, June 28th, 2010

The many pooches that patrol the Washington State Ferries may find some petty crime this week as they make their usual rounds through the ferry loading lots.

Generally seeking to sniff out weapons of mass casualties, the dogs, trained to detect a multitude of explosive chemicals, will “alert” on carloads of fireworks — and if troopers find you’re carrying illegal ones, you’ll “be subject to criminal prosecution,” according to a Washington State Patrol press release.

“Ferry customers are expected to obey laws regarding legal fireworks in Washington State,” WSP Homeland Security Division Commander Captain Mark Thomas said in the release. “Legal fireworks include sparklers, ground spinners and roman candles. Illegal fireworks or other explosive devices are not allowed on ferries and will be confiscated and disposed of by the Washington State Patrol.”

To see which fireworks are legal and which are not, click here, whether you’re planning to go to the tribal fireworks establishments or just head to a local stand.


The Crime Stats Are Out (How Did Your Community Fare?)

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

This week, the Washington Association of Sheriff’s and Police Chiefs (WASPC) released their annual report on crime in this state. I’m working today to analyze the numbers and get the thoughts about them from our local law enforcement leaders.

For the county, here’s the overall trends:

  • Violent crime (murder, rape, robbery, assault) in the county fell about four percent, from 1,103 reported incidents to 1,060.
  • Property crime (theft, burglary, ect.) in the county, too, fell almost five percent, from 6,465 incidents to 6,170.

I’ve posted the report below, so you can see for yourself. I’ll be updating this entry throughout the rest of the day with tidbits and stats on each of our communities.

Crime stats overall
Violent crime (rape, robbery, murder, assault)
Property crime (theft, burglary, ect.)

Kitsap County Sheriff

2008            2009     %change
Violent crime       674            682      up, 1.2 percent
Property crime     3,789       3,267    down, 13.8 percent

Bainbridge Island
Violent crime       29             31          up, 6.9 percent
Property crime     324         304         down, 6.2 percent

Bremerton
Violent crime       308            250      down, 18.8 percent
Property crime     1,584       1,718    up, 8.5 percent

Port Orchard
Violent crime       50              52          up, 4 percent
Property crime      465         564         up, 21.3 percent

Poulsbo
Violent crime       42            45              up, 7.1 percent
Property crime      303         317             up, 4.6 percent

Mason County Sheriff
Violent crime       140         133             down, 5 percent
Property crime     1,648       1,578        down, 4.2 percent

CIW2009


AP: Locking Away Sex Offenders Stressing State Budgets

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

In these tough economic times, no expenditure is safe. And that even applies to locking up the most sexually predatory sex offenders, the topic of an Associated Press analysis piece published Monday.

Twenty states operate treatment facilities that keep sex offenders locked up indefinitely, including Washington — home to the nation’s first such program on McNeil Island. These so-called “sexual violent predators” haven’t committed a new crime, but under the Community Protection Act passed in 1990, they’re deemed too dangerous to risk having them on the streets.

But, as the AP found out, they’re expensive to keep locked up.

The AP said 5,200 sex offenders are in facilities, including on McNeil Island, at a price of around $500 million — about $96,000 per person. That’s a lot more than it costs to keep prison inmates locked up.

The story says such laws allowing the facilities were passed when budgets were bigger. And as Martiga Lohn writes:

“The programs have created a political quandary for lawmakers who desperately need to cut spending in the midst of a recession but don’t want to be seen as soft on rapists and child molesters.”

What do you think? Is it time to rethink spending all that money? Or are they simply too much of a risk in the community?


Red Light Cameras Come Under Scrutiny in California

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Love them or hate them, red light cameras generate a lot of talk. But in Orange County, California, they’ve now taken a hit from the judiciary.

An appellate panel of judges has ruled such photos and video taken by the cameras is inadmissible, according to a story in the Orange County Register. Their rationale? No officers saw the offense with their own eyes, and the company that runs the cameras didn’t testify against the offenders in court.

Here in Bremerton, where we have red light cameras on both sides of town, such an issue has not been raised. Whether the California argument and decision is replicated has yet to be seen.


UPDATE: Do Kitsap’s DUI Offenders Wear Anklets Like Lindsay Lohan?

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

You may have seen the ankle bracelets that are capable of monitoring alcohol consumption. The devices, which measure vapors given off by perspiration, have become increasingly common and have even been spotted on celebrities like Lindsay Lohan.

I was curious if we had any such technology here in Kitsap, so I asked Kitsap County’s district court administrator Maury Baker, who oversees the largest court that handles DUI in the county.

“We have not used these and have been aware of them since they hit the market,” Baker wrote me in an email.

UPDATE: Monday, 9:11 a.m.: I got an email from a local attorney who told me they’re in use in Bainbridge Island and Poulsbo’s municipal courts. I’ll get more info on them today.

I showed Baker an article in the Dallas Morning News about the device’s use in Texas. You can read it here.

But Baker feels Kitsap’s method of monitoring — the ignition interlock device (IID) or “blow and go” — has an advantage over the anklet.

“As the article states, the (ankle) sensor does not stop one from driving drunk,” Baker wrote. “The IID disables the vehicle.”


‘Operation Dry Water’ Aims to Curb BUIs

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

A national emphasis is planned for next weekend to get those boating under the influence — BUI for short — off the water.

Law enforcement agencies in the area with a regular maritime presence are expected to participate June 25-27, according to the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. They’re calling it “Operation Dry Water.”

The BUI law is basically the same as the DUI law — no driving over a .08 blood alcohol level.

Here’s some tips from the Office of the State Fire Marshal:

“With boating season in full swing, it is important to observe and practice safety afloat. We are offering these boating safety tips, hoping you will have many fun and safe boating experiences,” says State Fire Marshal Charles M. Duffy.

1. Leave Alcohol on Shore: In 2008, alcohol was either a direct or indirect contributing factor in 35 percent of all boating fatalities.

2. Take a Boating Safety Course: More than 70 percent of all reported boating fatalities in 2007 occurred on boats where the operator had not completed a boating safety course. You may even qualify for a reduced insurance rate if you complete a safety course. Contact your local Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadron chapter or visit www.uscg.mil for more information on courses in your area.

3. File a Float Plan: The U.S. Coast Guard recommends that you always tell a friend or family member where you plan to go and when you will return. Make it a habit before leaving on any boat trip. The proper officials can be notified promptly if you don’t return when expected.

4. Be Weather-Wise: A calm day can quickly turn ugly on the water. Keep an eye out for changing weather conditions and stay on top of the forecast while boating. Promptly heed all weather and storm advisories.

5. Use and Maintain the Right Safety Equipment:

a. Life Jackets and Personal Flotation Devices – State law requires each person on board to have a properly-fitting U.S. Coast Guard approved serviceable life jacket. Also, boats longer than 16 feet must have a throwable Personal Flotation Device.

b. Fire Extinguishers – If your boat has any enclosed compartments or a false floor, you must carry a Coast Guard approved fire extinguisher. Make sure it is charged and accessible.

c. Boat Lights – Always test your boat lights before the boat leaves the dock and carry extra batteries.

d. Emergency Supplies – Keep on board in a floating pouch: maps, flares, and a first aid kit.

e. Anchor – Make sure you have one and can properly use it. Improper anchoring may cause fatal accidents.

6. Designate an Assistant Skipper: Make sure more than one person on board is familiar with all aspects of your boat’s handling, operations, and other boating safety tips. If the primary navigator is injured or incapacitated in any way, it’s important to make sure someone else can follow the proper boating safety rules to get everyone back to shore.


Eating Meth is Not Advised (With Multiple Examples)

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Turns out that a 19-year-old man taken to Harrison Medical Center for swallowing meth wasn’t the only one last Friday to have gobbled up amphetamines.

In remarkably coincidental fashion, at the same time a suspect ate a gram and a half of meth as Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies investigated a drug deal, Bremerton police were heading to a Sixth Street cafe for a report of a man trying to steal things from their bathroom.

The cops found him Friday night “sweating profusely,” with the bathroom in a state of disarray. Police reported that he’d told them he’d “smoked a twenty sack and swallowed a forty sack of meth.” He began going into convulsions, officers said.

Darcy Himes, spokeswoman for Harrison Medical Center, said the man was treated and released from the hospital early Saturday morning.

It goes without saying that ingesting meth in any form is risky and dangerous. But eating it? Wikipedia says — and I’d take this with a grain of salt — it’s actually the safest way to ingest it. But from Kitsap’s oddly timed examples here — requiring hospital trips — I’d say we have some anecdotal evidence to refute that.


UPDATE: Driving + Cell Phone + Ear = $124 Ticket

Monday, June 14th, 2010

The era of holding up a cell phone to your ear while driving in Washington is over. Granted, it had been illegal for a couple years, but beyond the reach of the cops if drivers were obeying all other laws.

Texting, too, is out. And don’t pull over to talk on the shoulder, because that’s not safe, either.

Even the police say they’ll limit time on the phone while driving, even though they’re exempt from the law.

Will some continue to drive around talking and texting, ultimately disregarding the law? I suppose, but judging by the strong words from our local law enforcement leaders, I’d say it’s a habit that’s going the way of the Dodo.

“In an effort to protect the public and cut accidents we will be enforcing this law the day it goes into effect,” said Shawn Delaney, deputy chief of the Poulsbo Police Department.

But even if it’s enforced from the get-go, Al Townsend, chief of the Port Orchard Police Department, points out that his office is not planning any type of emphasis patrols. A cell phone violation will be weighed like any other.

“Officers will maintain the same discretion they have on any traffic infraction as to whether they will stop and warn the driver or write a citation,” he said.

But the police, too, have noticed this law has been extensively covered in the press.

“The Mason County Sheriff’s Office is very much aware of the extraordinary amount of media coverage this law has had so we do not anticipate an education period for motorists violating this law,” said Dean Byrd, Mason County Sheriff’s spokesman.

We already know, however, what the state patrol’s plans are. They will likely be the police agency that focuses on this new law most.

UPDATE: Monday, June 14: I heard back from Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer. Here are some of his observations:

“We are essentially on the same page with the (state) patrol. Thanks to the media attention, the educational component is well placed. As previously reported, even with the law enforcement exemption, we have provided the essential tools for our people to set a good example.

There will be those who want to argue; however, it is just common sense (with a strong research foundation); too bad legislation is required to modify human behavior. Besides, why would good people want to risk hurting anyone?  It was interesting to me how many fewer people were using cell phones today (Thursday, the first day of the law) than yesterday.”


Kitsap’s Prosecutor, Coroner Will Have Election Opponents

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Two elected leaders got opponents in this fall’s elections in the last two days of filing week. Bruce Danielson, a South Kitsap attorney who ran for superior court judge in 2004 and 2008, will challenge Russ Hauge for the job of Kitsap County prosecutor.

It’s the first time Hauge has faced an opponent since dethroning C. Danny Clem in 1994 Here’s the profile I wrote about Hauge in 2006, when he last ran for the post.

And in a surprise Friday filing, Kitsap County Coroner Greg Sandstrom garnered an opponent in Pete Favazza. Favazza last ran for the Public Utility District Commission in 2008.

Sandstrom has overseen the coroner’s office’s transition into a new building during his current term. Here’s the profile I wrote about him in 2006, when he ran unopposed.


‘Granddaughter Needs Bail’ Scam Hits Bremerton Couple

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Some of you may have heard of a relatively new scam in which the fraudsters attempt to be jailed grandchildren that need bail money in a foreign country.

Unfortunately, this Bremerton couple had not.

And so when they got a call from a woman claiming to be their granddaughter recently, they became immediately concerned. The scammers got her name right and the couple, in their late eighties, even have a grandchild of that name in New York state.

She was jailed in Ontario, Canada, according to the report filed with the Bremerton Police Department, for having been found with a small bag of pot. But a friendly “sergeant” informed them all they needed to do was wire almost $3,000 and she’d be out, with no record given to U.S. authorities.

The bail bondsman was located in Sydney, Australia.

It was all a lie, of course, with many red flags along the way. But they just didn’t know — so they wired the money.

Afterward, they called their real granddaughter, who was fine. And it began to sink in: they’d been scammed. They reported it to police Monday.

Bremerton Police Sgt. Kevin Crane said that not only is the couple embarrassed, but it was money they depended on for retirement.


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