Kitsap Crime and Justice

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Archive for the ‘Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco’ Category

Sixty-eight bottles of booze seized by police; shoplifting investigation continues

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

The police investigation against a cadre of suspected liquor thieves continues. In the meantime, Port Orchard Police Commander Geoff Marti sent over a few pictures from the results of the search warrant investigators served on the SUV the suspects were riding around in. Have a look at all 68 bottles’ worth.

That’s a lot of Grey Goose.

It’s been a taxing year on the shoplifting front for newly-empowered liquor retailers in the state, following the implementation of Initiative 1183. In Kitsap County alone, three cases in which groups of shoplifters purloined bottles of booze are pending.

The problem spurred the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs to write the state’s Liquor Control Board, asking the board to make retailers track and report their liquor thefts. After a rule-making process, that will start to happen. Then, we’ll truly see just how much of a problem liquor theft has been.

 


Liquor thefts may be up, but so are sales

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

 Turns out that while thefts of liquor from grocery stores are skyrocketing, sales are on the up, too. 

The state’s Department of Revenue reported Tuesday that liquor sales by volume were almost three percent higher during the first four months of privatization than they were a year earlier.

Get this: almost 13.6 million liters were sold from June through September, the first months of Initiative 1183′s impact, while 13.2 million liters were sold a year earlier in state liquor stores.

The Department of Revenue also announced that the taxes on liquor have pushed up their price. The average price for a liter — including taxes — was $24.09 in September. (Compare that to $21.58 when the state ran the business.)

Click here to see a monthly report on liquor sales.


‘Spice,’ ‘K2,’ synthetic cannabis — by any name, now a felony

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Kitsap County prosecutors appear to have filed the first ever charges in the county against someone for possessing synthetic marijuana. “Spice,” “K2″ and other so-called “synthetic cannabinoids” were officially banned by the state’s pharmacy board in November 2010.

Possession of substances known as “bath salts,” “plant food,” “Ivory Wave,” and “White Lightning,” are now felonies and can be punishable by up to five years in prison.

(Other authorities, I should add — the Navy, for instance — had already banned Spice.)

In early May, it appears the first person in Kitsap — a 24-year-old Poulsbo man — was charged with having Space.

“Not positive Josh,” wrote back Kevin Kelly, the deputy prosecutor who charged the case, “But it is the first time I have charged it so I think chances are good that it is.”

Here’s what happened: Kitsap County sheriff’s deputies were called to the Suquamish Clearwater Casino in the early morning hours of May 5 for the report of a man seen using a narcotics pipe. Surveillance video showed him using the pipe, which was glass and “multi-colored,” sheriff’s reports of the incident said.

While he denied having a pipe at first, a deputy saw a something in his front left pocket “weighing it down.”

The deputy said it didn’t smell like marijuana and asked the man what kind of tobacco he smoked.

“He thought for a minute and then told me that it was not tobacco but that it was ‘spice,’” deputies wrote.

In his pocket, deputies found a container that had “quality potpourri,” written on it. It was cotton candy flavor.

The man said he’d gotten it at a store in Poulsbo. He was arrested.

The deputy who drove him to jail said the Poulsbo man “was asking the same questions over and over again.”

“He seemed to be very impaired and altered,” the deputy wrote in his report.

He was booked into the Kitsap County jail for possession of the drug and charged with the same crime the next day by prosecutors.


BC’s legal drug injection site will stay that way

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

If you were against the prospect of a methadone clinic in Bremerton, you’ll likely be incensed by a rather radical approach to drug addiction in British Columbia. At Insite, a clinic in Vancouver’s lower eastside, drug addicts are able to bring in and inject illegal drugs under the supervision of a nurse.

The argument for the clinic is that even if they’re choosing to abuse drugs like heroin, the chance they’ll overdose or hurt themselves while in the presence of medical professionals is far less. A study released recently confirms that point.

And on Friday, proponents of the clinic scored a victory when the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that Insite would be allowed to operate in the face of drug laws because closing it would be a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (The Charter is basically the Canadian version of our Bill of Rights, though it was passed in 1982.)

As you may recall, a Seattle non-profit led an effort recently to place a methadone clinic in Bremerton to combat the region’s rising opiate addiction epidemic. But businesses and residents in the area, fearing problems it might bring to the Charlston neighborhood, pushed back and the non-profit abandoned its plans.

What that non-profit does is far different from a free injection site. Methadone, a long-acting opiate, is used as a replacement drug for opiate addicts. It can be effective at quelling the addiction without giving the patient a high.

That said, how do you feel about the idea of so-called “safe injection sites?” Are those Canadians on to something, or are they off their rockers?


Meth-makers beware: the feds are keeping a close eye on you

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Next time you have a cold, don’t be surprised if you get a bit of scrutiny with your Sudafed. Washington’s board of pharmacy just approved new rules that will make getting any pseudoephedrine product a little more like traveling through airport security.

The good news is that law enforcement will be alerted any time a small cache of pseudoephedrine — the key ingredient in making methamphetamine — is purchased at a local store.

But next time that pounding headache, cough and general feeling of awfulness drags you into Ride Aid or Walgreens, expect to be asked for your driver’s license or ID, which will get scanned into a database.

This concept isn’t too new for Washingtonians — one of meth’s first victims in the country — who’ve already been handing over IDs so they could be catalogued in a paper database for law enforcement to see. The difference now is the federal government’s “Combat Meth Act,” which makes the database electronic — and thus instant.

By October 15, all retailers will have to be using the system and complying with the new rules operating it.

In case you’d like more detail, here’s a press release on the topic, courtesy of the state’s Department of Health:

OLYMPIA — Making methamphetamine (meth) in Washington just got harder thanks to a new, instant, electronic reporting and monitoring system. The Washington State Board of Pharmacy adopted rules for the system that tracks purchases of over-the-counter medications used to make the drug.

Retailers and law enforcement are now learning how to use the system. On October 15, all retailers must comply with the system’s rules and law enforcement can use the information for investigations under the federal Combat Meth Act.

The tracking system, which is in use in many other states, scans photo identification as well as type and amount of product; it provides real-time information showing the cashier if the person buying the medication has exceeded the allowed quantity. Information on the purchase of medication over the legal limits goes instantly to a database available to law enforcement.

Restricting access to drugs used to make meth is a key step to ending illegal meth labs and dumpsites, and to deterring meth abuse and addiction. Controlling access to products containing pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, and phenyloproanolamine will help stop meth makers from buying big quantities of the products while allowing legitimate access to cold, flu, and allergy products.

The state will use the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx), a no-cost system provided to states that want to replace paper sales logs with real-time electronic tracking. Pharmacies, shopkeepers, and other vendors selling these medications will enter sales transactions into the NPLEx system at the time of sale.


DUI numbers up following ‘Drive Hammered, Get Nailed’ campaign

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Fifty-nine motorists got busted for DUI between Aug. 19 and Sept. 5, when cops were out en masse thanks to federal grant money

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission funded the extra patrols during those dog days of summer because typically, that’s when the most alcohol fueled deaths on Washington’s highways occur. Around the state, officers wrote a total of 1,824 DUI citations.

From the Commission:

“In Kitsap County, the Bainbridge Island, Bremerton, Port Orchard and Poulsbo Police Departments, the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Patrol participated in the extra DUI patrols, with the support of the Kitsap County Target Zero Task Force. The extra patrols were funded by a grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

More than 40 percent of the DUI traffic deaths occur in Washington during the summer months. That is why these extra patrols are so important and are helping to make a difference. According to preliminary 2010 data, the number of DUI traffic deaths decreased by 16.5 percent compared to the previous five year average.”

 


Is meth on its way out?

Friday, September 9th, 2011

 

Methamphetamine, that crystalline psycho-stimulant that’s been plaguing our communities for years now, appears to be on the decline around the nation, according to results of a survey released by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

As penned in a USA Today article:

“… methamphetamine use, which raced across the USA for a decade, has declined sharply. The number of past-month users fell from 731,000 in 2006 to 353,000 in 2010.”

So could this be the beginning of the end for methamphetamine?

In our area, I’m not seeing any slowdown in police reports from around the county. But we have certainly seen heroin rear its ugly head in the past couple years. And, as you can see from this one sentence I’ve posted from a real police report, it appears, at least anecdotally, that at least one drug seller was having a tough time pushing meth.

I’ve spoken to Bremerton Police Special Operations Group Sgt. Randy Plumb about that very sentence, and he told me not to give it much credence. There’s still plenty of demand out there.

As the report shows, it certainly isn’t the end for marijuana use, which is ingested regularly by almost 7 percent of Americans, up from 6 percent in 2007. But newer laws and education efforts appear to be working in the fight against meth.

UPDATE: The National Drug Threat Assessment, authored by the Department of Justice, is out and says that actually, meth demand is increasing in some markets in America:

“High levels of methamphetamine production in Mexico, along with increasing smallscale domestic production, have resulted in
increasing methamphetamine availability,” it says.

Apparently, the federal government’s public health arm and its law enforcement arm appear to be contradicting each other a bit.


The latest drug trends across America

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

In June, I had the chance to attend a conference in Seattle of some of the smartest minds in America when it comes to monitoring drug abuse. While each gave a presentation about cities and areas across the nation, I found particularly interesting just one sheet of paper that they passed around.

Across the top of the page, various drugs — cocaine, heroin, other opiates, meth, marijuana and synthetics — were listed. In each column below, each expert from the cities and areas listed the current trends — up, down, or otherwise — for each drug.

Please take a look at the page. But I’ll also provide a short synopsis of my own interpretation of it, as discussed at the Community Epidemiology Work Group in Seattle June 8-10.

Cocaine: Clearly down across the country. Its high price, even during the recession, has made it rather cost prohibitive for users, various epidemiologists pointed out at the meeting. There were a few exceptions: New York City and “vacationland” Maine, two of the richest areas of the country.

Heroin: Results were mixed but some areas have experienced a surge, including our own, which is denoted with “young adult,” being part of the trend. Readers of our paper will no doubt already know that heroin has experienced a huge resurgence here.

Other opiates: Wow. The country is clearly grappling with prescription pill addiction.

Meth: This one may surprise you. Though so much attention is given to this particularly dirty drug, most areas reported its use is stable or decreasing. So-called “precursor” laws have obviously had an impact in keeping meth’s key ingredient, pseudoephedrine, out of the hands that would cook it themselves. But more complex drug enterprises appear to have made up for that lack of mom-and-pop meth shops.

Marijuana: The results from the group were pretty clear. Marijuana continues to grow in use and abuse, achieving the “high” label amongst many of the epidemiologists present. The growing number of people who believe it should be legalized, or at least recognized as having medical benefits, continues to push the upward trend.

Synthetics: The group either needed more time to investigate or found that synthetics, be it PCP or MDMA, were on the rise.

Notice alcohol, not an illicit drug is not on the list. Yet this drug, above all others, is more abused than any other.

Note: The circling of some notes in the heroin column are mine, as I attended the conference when it was the main topic of conversation. Otherwise, it is each expert’s notes.


Inslee: Safe Disposal Needed in Wake of Bremerton Pill Taking Students

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, weighed in today following an incident Tuesday at Mountain View Middle School in which nine students were taken to the hospital for taking prescription pills.

“This week, nine middle school students in Bremerton were hospitalized after popping prescription pills some of the students brought from home,” Inslee said in a release. “Our communities need all the options available to them to combat this problem.”

The timing of the incident coincides with the passage of the Safe Drug Disposal Act by the U.S. House of Representatives, a bill aimed at allowing for prescription pill disposal sites without police involvement — which is currently illegal under federal law.

Inslee is a sponsor of the bill.

Unused prescription pills can get into the water supply and also fall into nefarious hands to be sold or abused. The state legislature has even taken aim with some proposed laws that failed to pass this past session.
Such drug overdoses recently surpassed car crashes as the no. 1 cause of death in Washington.
Also coincidentally, Saturday is National “Take-Back” day. Drop sites around the country will be available for anyone who wishes to turn in unused prescription drugs.

This is an alarm our newspaper first sounded in 2008 in a project called “A Bitter Pill.”

Here’s the full press release from Inslee’s office:

“This afternoon, the House of Representatives passed Rep. Jay Inslee’s (WA-01) Safe Drug Disposal Act, H.R. 5809, by unanimous consent.  This important bipartisan legislation will break down barriers preventing communities from starting comprehensive and all inclusive drug take-back programs in accordance with Drug Enforcement Agency guidelines.  Drug take-back programs provide communities with a safe, legal option for disposing unwanted or unneeded prescription medication.

“Passing the Safe Drug Disposal Act is a big win for Washington families,” said Rep. Inslee.  “Prescription drug abuse is a growing plague in our communities.  This week, nine middle school students in Bremerton were hospitalized after popping prescription pills some of the students brought from home.  Our communities need all the options available to them to combat this problem.  The Safe Drug Disposal Act will give them a common sense option to easily and safely get rid of leftover prescription medication.”

Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in Washington state and around the country.  Between 1999 and 2006, the number of fatal poisonings involving prescription drugs more than tripled across the United States.  Prescription drug overdoses have now surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of accidental deaths in Washington state.  Three in five teens say prescription pain relievers are easy to get from parents’ medicine cabinets and over half of prescription drug abusers get the medicines from a friend or relative.

“Drug overdoses are now the #1 cause of accidental death in Washington State.
In many areas, including Snohomish County, prescription drugs are involved in a majority of overdoses,” said John Gahagan, Vice-Chair of the Science and Management of Addictions (SAMA) Foundation. Mr. Gahagan’s son, Sean, died of a prescription drug overdose. “Whether left unused in medicine cabinets, tossed in the garbage or flushed down the toilet, these drugs represent a danger to the health of our youth and the health of our environment.   Rep. Inslee’s bill is a critical step in support of efforts to ensure that unneeded controlled substances are securely collected from homes and disposed of safely.”

The Safe Drug Disposal Act would allow local agencies and organizations to set-up and run safe drug disposal efforts, like drop-off boxes and mail-in programs, in accordance with future DEA regulations.  Groups, authorized by the Attorney General would be able to accept controlled substances for the purpose of disposal.  The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) would be able to issue rules regarding drug take back programs. The bill also calls for a new public awareness campaign to educate citizens about the dangers of prescription drugs.

Until now, there has been no safe way for consumers to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs.  Under current law, consumers are prohibited from giving unneeded, unused or expired drugs to anyone besides law enforcement.

Rep. Inslee worked with many local, regional and national organizations to craft the language of the Safe Drug Disposal Act.  In Washington state, local agencies and community groups like Group Health and Bartell Drugs have tackled this problem head-on and developed successful pilot safe drug disposal programs.  Bartell Drugs provided the first take-back locations in Washington’s pioneering Unwanted Medicine Return program and continues to expand locations at its stores in King , Pierce and Snohomish counties.

“Bartell’s understands the need for the safe and environmentally sound disposal of prescription drugs,” said George D. Bartell, Chairman and CEO of family-owned, Seattle-based Bartell Drugs. “The Safe Drug Disposal Act will play an important role in safeguarding our environment, reducing abuse and saving lives.  We heartily applaud Representative Inslee’s efforts behind this bill.”


State Patrol: DUI, Speed Collisions Down in Kitsap County

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Here’s some good news about our local highways. Both DUI and speed-related collisions were down in the first half of 2010 as compared to 2009.

Troopers investigated 27 DUI crashes between January and June in 2010; last year, there was 38 during the same time period.

There were 92 speed-related crashes on state highways in the first half of 2010; that’s down from 112 in 2009.

Troopers also pointed out in a press release that while Kitsap County’s residents wear their seat belts 98 percent of the time, they still wrote up 1,414 tickets for that offense in the first half of 2010.

There have been 898 drivers stopped for aggressive driving on highways, troopers said. It is worth noting that the state patrol has three unmarked patrol cars that troopers drive looking exclusively to build criminal cases against aggressive drivers. The team of three is known as the Aggressive Driving and Apprehension Team.

Three people have been killed on state highways in the first half of this year; two were killed in the same period, troopers said.

And as for the second half of the year, the state patrol is hopeful that Marsha Masters, who filled the Kitsap County Target Zero manager position, will help coordination of emphasis patrols between the county’s law enforcement agencies. There are ones planned for the upcoming Kitsap County Fair.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention cell phone tickets. Troopers wrote in June 155 tickets to drivers for cell phone violations; 10 were written for driving while texting.


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