Kitsap Crime and Justice

The Kitsap Sun staff writes about crime and criminal justice issues.
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Archive for October, 2012

Kitsap deputy saves cat with tuna can stuck to her head (with photo)

Friday, October 26th, 2012

The black and gray tabby gets help at the vet. COURTESY PHOTO

As someone who often patrols the sylvan environs of North Kitsap, Deputy Shane Hanson’s had his share of run-ins with wild animals.

But what his patrol cruiser’s headlights illuminated in the wee hours last Monday, no one could prepare for.

A black and gray tabby cat was wandering helplessly in the middle of Port Gamble Road, with something on her head. Hanson got out to take a closer look. He found the feline’s head was completely lodged in a can of tuna, blinding her and keeping her mouth forced open.

He informed dispatchers he was going to check on the cat. Kept his words simple at first, so as to not raise eyebrows with his fellow deputies to start with. The cat could escape and his story might then be seen as far-fetched.

“No one’s gonna believe this,” he said he thought.

The first attempt to help the cat did not go well for the six-year sheriff’s deputy, who spent the first 11 years of his career as an officer on Bainbridge. When he got close, the cat lashed out, tearing her claws into Hanson’s ring finger and palm.

Undeterred, Hanson regrouped and, a member of the county’s SWAT team, he grabbed his department-issued SWAT jacket as defense from kitty’s claws.

The cat ran off several times. Hanson said he worried if anyone should see him, images of keystone cops would fill their heads.

The cat went into a yard and surrendered. Hanson bundled the cat up. He asked some residents if they’d lost an animal; they said no.

Off he went to Animal Emergency and Trauma Center in Poulsbo, whose veterinarians went to work to help the cat. (Hanson’s own hand injury, meanwhile, was further remedied with a Tetanus shot to be on the safe side.)

The vets’ surgery was successful in removing the can. I’m told that even a can opener was used to help in the extraction.

Kitsap County Animal Control Officer Tyrus Edwards picked the cat — believed to be female — up from the center and took her to the Kitsap Humane Society.

Aside from the trauma, the cat has recovered.

Hanson, for his part, said he’s always liked animals — he’s more of a dog person, he admits — and hates the thought of them suffering. He said he was happy to help the animal and was pleased to hear she’s doing better.

Rob Drought, the humane society’s feline coordinator, said she’s semi-feral, though and hopes she’ll go soon to a foster home to recuperate. Because she’s only around a year old, there’s a reasonable chance she could one day go home with a family.

“I have a funny feeling we may be able to rehabilitate this girl,” Drought said.


Crime reporter’s notebook: Police data, fingerprint scanners, weed and a pair of handcuffs

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

 Here are a few recent odds and ends from my reporter’s notebook:

POLICE DATABASE EXPANDS: You may remember the Kitsap Sun story about the Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LinX), in which Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents were working to thread together a database of all reports gathered by local law enforcement agencies. (The effort began in a Levin Road basement.) Keep in mind that prior to 9/11, a lot of data collected by law enforcement, including field interviews, mug shots, and investigative narratives, could only be accessed only by the agency that created them.

I asked Keith Haines, LinX’s regional program manager, how it was going. He said LinX, which already encompasses most law enforcement agencies on both U.S. coasts, has begun integrating with the FBI’s “N-DEx” system, which will host a nationwide database that hopes to include all U.S. law enforcement reports.

FINGERPRINT SCANNERS: Did you know King County Sheriff’s Office is using pocket-sized fingerprint scanners to identify uncooperative and unscrupulous suspects? Regular readers of the Kitsap Sun will know these debuted in Kitsap County five years ago. The followup, by the Seattle Times, is that they’ve got more of the bugs in them worked out.

MARIJUANA ROUNDUP: As the election looms, a number of stories have appeared regarding Initiative 502 in recent weeks. Among the most interesting in my book: More than 241,000 people in Washington state were arrested for marijuana possession over the past 25 years; marijuana backers are getting some states-rights conservatives to support the measure; and a bunch of drug czars have come out against the measure, which they say violates constitutional law and could trigger a “constitutional showdown.”

HOMEOWNER CONFRONTATION: Imagine going outside your home to find someone holding your machete and chainsaw. Not only do you own them, but you wouldn’t want a stranger swinging them at you, either. Last week, a homeowner west of Long Lake had just that encounter — and he wrestled the machete away from the stranger, chased him down the road and told him to stay put until Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies arrived, reports say. Deputies said the suspect remarked that he’d “only get a criminal trespass for this.” Prosecutors have charged him with burglary.

HANDCUFFED AND RUNNING: An Alaska man was arrested Friday for trying to pass counterfeit $20s at Walmart. Poulsbo police responded and the man let them look in his wallet, where officers found six $20s with the same serial numbers. Police had handcuffed the man, who’d also violated probation and had him sit on the push bars of a patrol car. That’s when reports say the man “jumped to his feet and took off running … still in handcuffs.” An officer gave chase and tried his Taser, but missed. The suspect was ultimately tackled and taken the Kitsap County jail.


Kitsap County’s sheriff not ready to support marijuana legalization initiative

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

In his former life as a Washington state trooper, Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer recalls watching a motorist one day drive around a Walmart parking lot, encircling it several times at about three miles an hour. 

Round and round the car went, until Boyer’s hit his overhead lights and brought the car from its crawl to a halt.

The driver was stoned, Boyer recalled.

The sheriff used the story to explain to me his mixed feelings about Initiative 502, which would legalize the possession of marijuana for adults 21 and over. The driver was certainly not the worst he’d ever seen, having responded to too many alcohol-fueled fatality crashes. But he looks at the issue from a public health standpoint: would Washingtonians be better off if they could purchase weed at a store?

“Do you really want to add it to the mix” of our currently legalized libations? he asked.

For the record, Boyer will not be following suit of King County Sheriff Steve Strachan, who has come out in favor of the initiative. Boyer will be voting no on it.

But the issue’s merits are a conversation he wants to have.

“I think it deserves a dialogue and discussion,” he said. “Not just rhetoric.”

He believes that medical marijuana, whose patients in this state have long operated in a legal gray area, can help people. And he does not view pot as a scourge on society in the same way as, say, meth or heroin have been.

“Marijuana being an evil weed causing all the problems in this country? I don’t buy that,” he said.

But here’s why he’s voting no:

  • The plant remains a so-called Schedule 1 narcotic — meaning it has a high potential for abuse and has no value medically — in the eyes of the federal government.
  • Use of any substance not prescribed for medical use — legal or illegal — “do not usually make a person’s life better,” he said.
  • He doubts the criminal justice system will save money by not having to prosecute simple marijuana possession. “There are very few people in jail for recreational marijuana,” he said.

Boyer reiterated his willingness to continue the discuss and that he could change his mind about possible future initiatives. For now, he’s still weighing the issues, but isn’t ready to vote to end marijuana prohibition.

 


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