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Archive for the ‘Issues in Law Enforcement’ Category

3 new officers join the beat at Bremerton police

Friday, May 17th, 2013
Bremerton Municipal Court Judge James Docter swears in the city's three new police officers Wednesday. Photo by Shannon Corin.

Bremerton Municipal Court Judge James Docter swears in the city’s three new police officers Wednesday. Photo by Shannon Corin.

Three new Bremerton police officers were sworn in Wednesday, a shot in the arm toward the department’s staffing levels. 

At its height in the mid-2000s, the department had 66 fully commissioned officers, but budget cuts in recent years took that level down into the low 50s. That has meant reductions in investigations and overtime for patrol officers, who attempt to keep up with the city’s 911 call volume.

The three officers sworn in, along with another new hire and a position yet to be filled, will bring the department back up to 57 fully commissioned officers, according to Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan.

Here’s the three latest hires:

Beau Ayers, a graduate of Ohio University, formerly worked as a police officer in Nelsonville, Ohio and with the US Border Patrol before coming to Bremerton.

Joeseph Corey, a South Kitsap High School class of 1998 grad, served five years in the army as a police officer in South Korea, at Fort Lewis and in Iraq. He was most recently a Department of Defense police officer at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Christopher Faidley, who grew up in Seattle, graduated from Whitman College in 2009. He enlisted in the National Guard in 2011 and has also worked for an electrical contractor and for Microsoft providing security.

The three have graduated from the state’s law enforcement academy and are currently training with veteran officers in the department for the next four months.

 


Bremerton Police add online drug tip form, bios of top brass

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

photoThe Bremerton Police Department’s web site is looking a little different these days, as new Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan continues an effort to reach out to the city’s residents.

Biographies of Strachan, as well as ones for captains Jim Burchett and Tom Wolfe and lieutenants Pete Fisher and Luis Olan, can now be found online.

Additionally, the department has added a first-ever online tip form to report drug activity. The department says the information can be anonymous but that “it can assist our detectives if we can contact citizens directly to obtain vital details.”

Questions on the form are broken into five parts:

1) Why do you think this is a drug house?
2) Where is the activity occurring?
3) Who is involved?
4) What cars are involved?
5) Any additional comments?

Strachan said the changes were made to both update the web site but also “provide a direct link” for residents to send in questions or comments about the department.

Bremerton Police Sgt. Randy Plumb, in charge of the department’s Special Operations Group, said the new link streamlines information so it can get to an investigating detective as quickly as possible. He also noted that providing the anonymity online may help bring forth new tips of those previously concerned their identities might be revealed.

Those wanting to report drug tips can still go through the department’s phone line: (360) 473-5217.

Bremerton Police Community Resource Specialist Joe Sexton said additional citizen reporting tools and web site features will be coming in the months ahead.


There’s a new (K-9) sheriff in town

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office has a new member, of the four-legged variety. Titan, a two-year-old German shepherd, has officially signed into service as a tracking dog and is partnered up with Kitsap County Sheriff’s Deputy Joe Hedstrom.

Bringing Titan into the office would not have been possible without a $5,000 donation from the Peninsula Dog Fancier’s Club of Kitsap County, deputies said in a news release.

The dog was born in Germany in 2010 and imported to America in the summer, through Von Grunheide Shepherds of Snohomish.

Hedstrom is no stranger to K-9 handling. He partnered with and trained Ajax, a German shepherd who worked the beat four years amassing 112 captures. But a neck injury forced Ajax to retire early. He now lives at Hedstrom’s home.


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.


Troopers can applicant that ‘borrowed’ prescription drugs

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

The Washington State Patrol’s recruiters are “concerned” that an undisclosed number of applicants have disclosed they’ve borrowed from prescription drugs from friends and family for their own medical problems, the patrol said in a news release Thursday. 

“Concerned,” perhaps, but it should not come as a surprise. Starting in the 1990s, prescription opiate drugs, in particular, began to be prescribed at much higher rates. The many consequences of that have been documented by news media around the country, including in our very own Kitsap Sun. And, as there are just way more of these potent pain-killing drugs out there, I don’t think it comes as a shock to anyone that they’re also being “borrowed” more often, too.

That doesn’t make it right and the state patrol points out that such borrowing is a felony crime in no uncertain terms.

The patrol said an applicant has been disqualified for borrowing prescription drugs. Here’s the full news release:

(Olympia)—Recruiters at the Washington State Patrol are concerned about the number of State Patrol applicants who report using prescription drugs obtained from friends or relatives for otherwise legitimate medical issues.

It’s dangerous to use prescription medicine that’s been prescribed to someone else. Those with aspirations of working in law enforcement need to know it’s also a felony crime.

“These candidates may have taken the drugs for legitimate medical conditions, and might well have been prescribed the same drugs had they gone to a doctor,” said Capt. Jeff DeVere, commander of the Patrol’s Human Resource Division. “Getting them from a friend is an illegal drug transaction, and will likely disqualify you from employment as a State Trooper.”

A coming wave of retirements among troopers means that the Patrol is hiring at an unprecedented rate. Several months ago, the Patrol struggled to find candidates who were in sufficiently good physical condition. After a wave of public education, candidates are showing up ready to do sit-ups, push-ups and to run.

Now, prescription drug use is the latest obstacle to hiring.

“If you roll your ankle playing pickup basketball, or get a migraine during finals week, go to your doctor not your roommate,” DeVere said.

In doing background investigations, the State Patrol looks at the entire person and not just isolated incidents. However, any kind of illegal drug use places a burden on the candidate that is hard to overcome.

The Patrol is not concerned about drugs, of whatever type, that might have been legally prescribed by a doctor. A medical exam that includes disclosure of current medical conditions is a separate part of the hiring process. That exam will determine if the applicant is in good enough health to perform the essential job functions of a trooper.

 


Fake shooting 911 call leads to scary situation for Kingston family

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

A Kingston family was the apparent victim of false reporting Saturday, according to Kitsap County Sheriff’s reports. 

Here’s what happened: Deputies got a hair-raising 911 call that came from out of the area. The caller, posing as a Kingston resident, claimed his father was “going crazy” and had shot his sister. The caller claimed he was hiding in a bathroom.

That kind of call is going to get police officers to respond in droves. And they did.

Police surrounded the home. A Suquamish police sergeant could see a man standing in the backyard; the man was told to show his hands and get on the ground. He complied. The man’s two sons were also located there and instructed to come around to the front of the house.

Police read the father his Miranda rights. He, of course, had no idea what had happened, and noted he didn’t even have a daughter.

Deputies checked the home and then un-cuffed the man.

It turns out that one of his sons had been playing games on the Internet. He’d played with someone online who’d been kicked off a gaming web site. The person decided to have the Kingston home “swatted” — that is, to try to get the SWAT team to converge on someone’s home.

Deputies’ investigation continues.

Scott Wilson, spokesman for the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, said there were many risks and costs associated with making such a high priority response. There’s the responders driving to the scene as quickly as possible; there’s multiple agencies converging on a home — when their resources might be needed elsewhere.

The situation is also frightening to those involved. But Wilson said sheriff’s deputies are left with no choice but to respond “tactically” until they determine it’s a hoax.

“We were acting in good faith,” he said.

And should deputies confirm this was a case of false reporting, the person responsible could be punished by up to a year in jail, according to Washington law.


Live tweet: Kitsap County’s cops on Super Bowl Sunday

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

It’s Super Bowl Sunday. A day for football. And, for a good number of fans around the Kitsap peninsula, it’s a day of drinking.

Unfortunately, while most enjoy the day peacefully with family and friends, Super Bowl Sunday is also typically a busy day for law enforcement.

The Kitsap Sun will take the opportunity to witness the law enforcement stress levels first hand Sunday night. I’ll head out with deputies from the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office starting at 6 p.m.

This page will have live updates via Twitter of what we see along the way. Please feel free to ask me questions through Twitter and I’ll respond whenever I can.


Federal sentencing of former Kitsap cop delayed

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Roy Alloway, the former drug detective targeted in a federal gun selling probe, won’t be sentenced in federal court just yet. 

Alloway, a longtime Bremerton police officer, pleaded guilty in October to unlawful dealing in firearms and filing a false income tax return (both felonies) in  U.S. District Court.

He was to be sentenced Jan. 20 but the case has been delayed, according to Emily Langlie, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle. He’s now set for sentencing Feb. 23.

The South Kitsap resident, 56, worked inside both the West Sound Narcotics Enforcement team and the Bremerton Police’s Special Operations Group. He was especially well known for his marijuana enforcement efforts.

He ran into trouble, the feds say, purchasing nearly 400 guns from three different federally licensed firearms dealers between January 2005 and November 2010. He sold pistols to undercover ATF agents at gun shows without the proper licenses. Federal prosecutors believe he did so to make a profit.

I’ll keep you posted on the case.


One in three, arrested by 23

Monday, December 19th, 2011

A fascinating, if troubling, study released Monday finds that one in three young people will be arrested by age 23.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, suggests growth in the “arrest record” population of the United States. From the New York Times report:

The study, the first since the 1960s to look at the arrest histories of a national sample of adolescents and young adults over time, found that 30.2 percent of the 23-year-olds who participated reported having been arrested for an offense other than a minor traffic violation.

The study, at first glance, makes me wonder: Are there more arrests because there are more cops and criminal justice infrastructure today, or because more young people are law-breaking?  Legendary criminologist Alfred Blumstein said in USA Today that “the increase in arrests for young people in the latest study is unsurprising given several decades of tough crime policies.

“I was astonished 44 years ago. Most people were,” says Blumstein, a professor of operations research at the Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University who served with Christensen on President Lyndon Johnson’s crime task force.

Now, Blumstein says, youth may be arrested for drugs and domestic violence, which were unlikely offenses to attract police attention in the 1960s. “There’s a lot more arresting going on now,” he says.

My second curiosity is what the study, if accurate, means for our society. Such widespread exposure to our bulky criminal justice system might not be a bad thing — it might steer an otherwise law-abiding citizen from a lapse in judgement later on. Then again, acclimation to the criminal justice system could also desensitize the experience and actually decrease someone’s fear of law-breaking.


Wendy Davis, Bremerton police sergeant, heads north for Poulsbo’s deputy chief gig

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

It’s official: Wendy Davis, a 16-year Bremerton police officer, is headed north to take the reins of Poulsbo Police’s deputy chief position.

Davis, 44, has been a sergeant in Bremerton nine years and is currently the head of the police officer’s union. She’ll fill a position that’s been vacant since the beginning of this year, after Shawn Delaney took a voluntary separation agreement during city cost-cutting.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Davis said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Poulsbo Police Chief Dennis Swiney said Davis will have a lot of projects in the new role, most notably running the day to day operations of the department, which consists of 16 commissioned officers. The months-long hiring process was competitive, he added; about 40 cops applied.

“She brings a lot of experience and local exposure, and is very professional,” Swiney said. “I think she’ll be a good fit to move the Poulsbo Police Department forward.”

The position pays $87,811.

Davis will conclude her time in Bremerton later this month. She starts in Poulsbo Nov. 2. She’ll be sworn in the same night at the Poulsbo city council meeting, Swiney said.

Davis, who graduated from high school in Brookings, Ore., went into the Marine Corps and was stationed at Camp Pendleton in California. Her first husband, Ron Davis, was also in the corps and then into law enforcement. He was ultimately killed in the line of duty, responding to a domestic violence call.

She herself got into law enforcement after moving to Kitsap County, become a Bremerton reserve officer in 1992. She was hired full time in 1995. At the department, she met her husband-to-be, Mark Thompson, who is still a sergeant there.

This year, Davis has been in the spotlight as head of the police officer’s union during the surfacing of controversial incidents involving police officers with an explorer. She also serves on the Kitsap County Fair board. As the photo indicates, she’s won a Healthy Tomorrow award for her involvement in the community.

There’ll be a lot to learn in her new job but she said she’s ready for it.

“It’s going to be a transition,” she said,  ”But it’ll be a good change.”

FOLLOWUP: Here’s the letter Poulsbo Police Chief Dennis Swiney sent out Tuesday morning pertaining to Davis’ hiring:

Poulsbo Police Hire Wendy Davis


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