Tag Archives: Bremerton police

Neighborhood watches pop up in wake of possible serial killer

As the community grapples with the idea that a possible serial killer may have attacked and killed two people in Bremerton and badly injured another, many city residents are reaching out to their neighbors.

Andrew Oakley, Bremerton Police’s community resource officer, told me this week that he’s met with three new neighborhood watch groups and he’s got three that are in the “thinking about it” stage.

That includes residents all over West Bremerton, including ones on High Avenue, Snyder Avenue, Auto Center Way, Ohio Avenue, 12th Street and Seventh Street.

Neighborhood watch groups can and do prevent crime by spurring a neighbors-helping-neighbors approach coupled with increased communication with the police department and other resources. To start your own group within and the city of Bremerton, call Oakley at (360) 473-5231.

Federal sentencing of former Kitsap cop delayed

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.

Lawsuit: Man accuses Bremerton police of allowing stolen SUV to be auctioned

A man has filed a lawsuit against Bremerton police alleging that the department allowed a stolen SUV to be purchased at an auction. 

Why does he care? Because he bought the SUV.

His lawyer says in court documents that the Washington State Patrol came knocking this past summer after he’d purchased the SUV. Informing him it was stolen, they seized the vehicle — though he had paid for it.

The lawsuit says the SUV was seized “during the course of drug enforcement activity,” by Bremerton police. Eventually, it was put on the auction block.

“The Bremerton Police Department knew or should have known that the vehicle was a stolen vehicle prior to the point in time in which it offered the vehicle for sale at public auction to the general public,” the lawyer wrote in documents filed Sept. 21.

The city will provide a response to the lawsuit, according to assistant city attorney Mark Koontz. In the meantime, its attorneys are still gathering evidence, he said. I’ll keep you posted.

Bremerton police’s DUI numbers continue to soar

There was a time when Bremerton’s police officers would often hand over a motorist suspected of drunken driving to a Washington state trooper. 

No more.

Since organizing a traffic division about five years ago and beginning an increased traffic and DUI emphasis inside city limits, the numbers have soared. In 2005, there were 107 DUI cases in Bremerton Municipal Court; in 2010 there were 276, according to numbers I obtained from the city this past week.

There have already been 249 cases in 2011, through Oct. 3.

An emphasis patrol conducted by the department’s graveyard shift — known as “Third Watch” — netted 15 arrests in three nights between Sept. 29 and Oct. 1. I asked Billy Renfro, one of the two third watch sergeants, a series of questions about how it went and what it accomplished.

JF: How well did the emphasis go?

BR: Both (fellow third watch sergeant Rich Cronk) and I thought it went outstandingly … we were handling area calls in addition to the DUIs.  I was really impressed with the entire shift as a whole.  The officers that were not directly involved with arresting DUIs were covering calls and assisting with transports to the jail.

JF: How did officers strategize to seek out additional DUIs?

BR: I don’t know that we had a specific strategy, other than ‘Let’s go out and make traffic stops’ …The DUIs will follow.  It was a city wide emphasis, although I think a majority of the stops occurred  on the east side of town.

JF: How many officers participated?

BR: Each night we ran 5 to 7 officers and we had a reserve officer on one of the nights, which really helped with the transports.

JF: How does this kind of proactive patrolling benefit the city’s residents and public safety as a whole?

BR: The benefits to the safety of the commuting public is something that I don’t think we can ever really measure.  I am absolutely convinced that the officers of Third Watch have saved lives and prevented damage to property with every DUI driver that is arrested.  And this is something that the Watch eagerly pursues.  It’s not something that Rich and I have to come in and force them to do.

In closing, I’m extremely proud of the efforts put forth by the entire shift, but specifically impressed with (Master Police Officer Matt) Thuring, Traffic Officer (Don) Rogers, Officer (“Duke”) Roessel, Officer (Steve) Polonsky, and Officer (Steven) Forbragd.

LIVE BLOG: Hearing of Bremerton Jazz Musician Mark Lewis

CASE BACKGROUND: Bremerton jazz musician Mark Lewis will likely find out today if he’ll get a new trial — or sentenced for obstructing police last September.

The prominent musician, who is legally blind, was found guilty in January of obstructing a Bremerton officer. Lewis contended at his January trial he did not know he was dealing with a police officer.

Police said he grabbed onto an officer’s gun in a tussle.

Lewis, who was acquitted of disorderly conduct by the jury, said he was attempting to hail a cab when his fare money went into Kitsap Way. He attempted to retrieve it and a man called 911 reporting his being in traffic.

Lewis has appealed for a new trial and Bremerton Municipal Court Judge James Docter will decide if he should get one. If not, Lewis will be sentenced. The conviction carries up to a year in jail, but Lewis, who has no criminal history, would likely receive less than the maximum.

Why Didn’t the YMCA Scam Suspects Go to Jail?

Story commenter fletc3her brought up an interesting point Wednesday morning on a story about people accused of using the YMCA to scam people for money.

“The criminals wandered off while the police were investigating the crime?” fletc3her posited.

Police officers, as we know, have much discretion in the job they perform, and that includes the decision to arrest someone. And of course, they have to make an on-the-spot decision based on the information they have at the time.

In this case, they’d received a 911 call from a woman saying she’d given some change to people claiming to be fund-raising for the YMCA. They immediately found two suspects, one of which didn’t take long to admit they were conning people, according to Bremerton police reports. That suspect even handed over $18 they’d taken right then and there.

But other than the 911 caller, police hadn’t yet found any other victims.

“Normally, we don’t arrest just based on confessions,” according to Bremerton Police Lt. Pete Fisher. “We usually try to corroborate them first.”

Please note the word “normally.” Obviously, Fisher said, the severity of the alleged crime would influence whether a person is arrested or detained.

Officers were already planning to forward their findings to the county prosecutor in the case, Fisher said. So given the time and manpower constraints and the fact the suspects appeared to pose no further danger to the community, the officers and sergeant handling the situation chose to continue digging and then send on their findings to prosecutors.

Either way, Fisher points out, the suspects will go to jail if, in fact, they are found guilty of impersonation in a court of law.

Eating Meth is Not Advised (With Multiple Examples)

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.

Turning A Corner on Crime: Bremerton Police Captain Reflects

Blogger’s Note: Today is the first installment in an occasional series examining how far Bremerton has come in reducing its state-high violent crime rate. Our guest blogger is Bremerton Police Captain Tom Wolfe, who’s seen the city then and now. The initial installment can be read here.

“I started working in Bremerton as a police officer in the summer of 1988. I worked a lot on foot downtown in the beginning, and spent the next eleven years working some form of night shift, with three of those assigned to the gang unit when gangs hit their high water mark.

Two years ago, as I stood at First Street and Washington Avenue at 9:45 p.m. on a pleasant summer night, it hit me just how far we have come.  I could visualize the brawls that spilled out of the numerous bars. I still remember hearing and seeing all available Bremerton, (Kitsap) County and (Washington) State units gathering to quell the mini-riots. I remember a sailor slumped against the wall of the old Popeye’s Tavern after having just been shot. The guy in the trench coat with the shotgun running down Front Street. Knife fights. Cat fights. You name it.

That vision was interrupted by a little girl and her parents walking by eating ice-cream cones. All the bumps and bruises and trips to the ER suddenly seemed worth it. We had fought to keep the peace on the streets and now they are peaceful, at least most nights. The police department formed a gang unit in the early 90’s to combat violent gang issues. We took officers and took aim at the biggest problem in the city, untying them from responding to 911 calls. And it worked.

Bremerton has some factors working against it, but the one thing it has had as long as I have been here is men and women who think outside of the box and are creative problem solvers. We have never had the equipment other departments have, or the number of officers. Instead we have had more calls and higher crime rates than those well-to-do agencies, so we have adapted and overcome.  I remember listening to a commander from another agency bemoaning his lack of budget and manpower issues. When I showed him our budget, manpower and call volume his jaw dropped: “How do you guys do it?” he asked.

In 2005, when Chief Craig Rogers took over, we still had the dubious distinction of being number one most violent city in Washington per capita, three years running in at least the top three.  Rogers’ focused policing program, working to put extra officers on the street and untie them from going 911 call to 911 call, has paid big dividends. Our violent crime rate has dropped significantly.

The other program that has impacted the city the most is the landlord notification program. We have, above all, been willing to try new things — i.e. the red light cameras. Like them or hate them, you have to look at the reason we put them there, to make our streets safer.  The accident rates have dropped and we have not experienced a fatality at our worst intersections since they went in.

With the drug culture shifting from crack cocaine to meth we have taken on new drug issues.  The city remains largely rental-oriented and that creates unique problems as well. But I look at where we were 23 years ago and what we have been able to accomplish and I can honestly say we are turning the corner. We have made so many positive impacts and changes that we can show results for. I think the next ten years will tell the tale for certain. And we will be here pushing the city around the corner, dragging it if need be.”

Bremerton Says Goodbye to an Officer and His K9

Bremerton Police dog Tabor has been hunting suspects in Kitsap County since 2001.

His handler’s been doing it for three decades.

On Friday, Brian Johnson, a longtime master patrol officer, said goodbye to his colleagues. Retiring with him is Tabor, a German Shepherd that’s developed a reputation for being relentless.

Johnson handled K9s Chase and Jake four years each before taking on Tabor for the past nine years.

His dogs’ successes may have a lot to do with their own abilities, but there’s no substitute for a good handler, says Billy Renfro, Johnson’s sergeant on the third watch, otherwise known as graveyard shift.

At his retirement Friday, Bremerton Police Chief Craig Rogers praised Johnson for being one of the officers that assured him the streets at night would be safe. A longtime graveyard officer, Johnson was one of those souls that functioned best in the dead of night.

Rogers said he never received any complaints about Johnson, who did his job with “little oversight and supervision.”

Here are Renfro’s own words about Johnson and Tabor:

“Although PD Tabor is an outstanding K9, I think a lot of it has to do with Brian’s approach to being a handler, and quite frankly “listening” to what Tabor is saying during the track. Brian’s approach is pretty low key and he doesn’t let obstacles such as time delays, heavy foot and/or vehicle traffic in the area become deterrents. He simply puts Tabor out and does a great job of reading him.

I specifically recall one track of an armed robbery suspect in the downtown area. It was raining out and there was heavy vehicle traffic. The track went for almost an hour when Brian told me that he was going back to work an area where he saw “Tabor” show some interest.  Lo and behold, “Tabor” located the suspect hiding in a back yard.  I have witnessed similar tracks time and time again, and I know I speak for Third Watch and others at BPD that Brian and “Tabor” will be greatly missed.”

Bremerton Crime: Has the City Turned A Corner?

Sifting through our story archives Wednesday, I came across a story by Sun reporter JoAnne Marez from the early nineties entitled, “City in a drug war.”
She was referring to Bremerton.
She writes of violent, fatal clashes between gangs and turf wars between rival drug dealers. Here’s a clipping:
“On South Montgomery Avenue the remnants of a once respectable, middle class Bremerton neighborhood still are visible. An elderly couple putters in their yard, tending their neatly clipped lawn, watering their flowers. Here and there, a homeowner paints his house or mends a fence.
But down the block, in either direction, things have changed.
At one end sits a nondescript house with a weed-choked yard, the scene of a violent clash last December over drug turf. When it was over, two teen-age crack dealers lay bathed in their own blood.
At the other end, Bremerton police fight a seemingly never-ending battle to force crack peddlers from the street. Drive-by shootings and assaults have become commonplace.
South Montgomery is perhaps a symbol of the urban decay and escalating violence that threatens Bremerton’s once tranquil neighborhoods.”
Has it gotten better since then? Just four years ago, I wrote of Bremerton’s state high rate of violent crime per capita (the graphic from the story is pictured). But in doing the story, I found that most residents feel safe here, despite these facts as I wrote them:
“A city of renters. A city with heavy drug use. A city with nighttime drunkards who like to brawl. A city with an understaffed police force. A city whose local jail has a “revolving door.” A city whose landlords allegedly ignore their renters’ criminal activity.

Many factors can be blamed for Bremerton’s violent crime rate, one that’s emerged in the past 12 years as the highest in the state.”

More recently, however, Bremerton’s crime rate has headed south. Renewing its downtown core and fighting crime in new ways are believed to have helped.

In the coming weeks, I expect to get the statistics about crime in Bremerton and see just how the city is faring in criminal activity. I suspect crime is falling in Bremerton.

But I’m curious: how far do you think we’ve come from that “City in a drug war,” Marez wrote about?