Category Archives: Crime

Bremerton: Stranger Than Fiction

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I’m of the mind that Bremerton is no stranger, no more violent and no more prone to boorish behavior than any other place.

In recent weeks, it’s seemed like Bremertonians have been on their best behavior. CODE 911 has been a yawn. Bring a book.

However, if newspaper stories can be seen as painting a picture of a community, then these stories that ran in today’s paper, all with Bremerton datelines, paint a weird, dayglo graffiti mural of aliens and Sasquatch .

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Nuisance Ordinance Passes

The Bremerton City Council approved with a 9-0 vote an ordinance to revamp how it deals with properties that are home to chronic problems.

The new law would notify a property owner if there are three problems within two months. If the owner does nothing to solve the issue or doesn’t attempt to, the city can issue a fine of $1,000. If the problems persist the city could ask the courts to fine property owners $100 a day.

There was significant opposition, though most of it was from people who thought the new ordinance was too vague and needed to be tightened up. In concept almost everyone thought the ordinance was a good idea.

Benedict House Lead Site Monitor Alex Munro said, “I’m all for this ordinance. I think you ought to pass it . . . when you’re done writing it.”

Rewriting an Unenforceable Law

On Feb. 7, 1997 the Sun had a story about five ordinances passed in one night by the Bremerton City Council, ordinances designed to clean up Bremerton neighborhoods.

One of those could be thrown out in the council meeting next week.

An ordinance to help shut down houses harboring drug and other criminal activity was praised by the public and council as it was approved.

The new ordinance gives the police chief power to force tenants out of a residence if they are convicted of three felonies or five criminal acts in a year “if the convictions have an adverse impact on the surrounding neighborhood.” The chief can also require that the unit be vacant for one year.

Snyder Avenue resident Sharon Richards spoke in favor of the ordinance, citing a seven-year struggle with drug and gang activity in neighboring rental units. “Cars came and went all night long. Shots were fired. We were afraid to sit in the living room,” she said. The city was finally able to shut the unit down last year because the building was unsafe. The new ordinance is viewed as a tool for dealing with that type of situation.

“I don’t expect to use this often,” said Police Chief Paul Du Fresne. “But we need to have the ordinance in our back pocket.”

The former chief’s comment that he didn’t expect to use the ordinance often proved prophetic. Andy Oakley, the Bremerton Police Department’s community resource specialist, said he doesn’t know that it’s ever been used. The ordinance the council passed in 1997 is “virtually unenforceable from our experience,” he said.

The challenge is the problem property has to be home to someone who was convicted of three felonies, something police generally don’t discover in the course of investigating incidents. There are some exceptions, such as driving offenses, that can be discovered on the spot, but most times officers go to a specific property it’s to investigate a single incident. The priors typically are something the prosecutor worries about.

The new law, which the council will discuss in a study session Wednesday, would focus more on the address of the incident. If there have been three incidents in 60 days defined as nuisances, the chief of police would notify the property owner, after which the property owner and police could discuss solutions.

If the property owner doesn’t respond the chief could levy a $1,000 fine. If after that there is no compliance, the case goes to the city attorney, who could ask a superior court judge to declare the propert a nuisance and fine $100 a day.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see some resistance from some property owners, but Oakley said the second part of the overall process, separate from this ordinance, is installation of software that will send e-mails to property owners when there has been a report written at one of their sites. Some property owners have been asking for just such notification. The intent is to get compliance before a property is labeled a nuisance.

After Wednesday the next step is for the ordinance to be on next week’s agenda for council approval. That’s where more public input is likely to surface.

East Side Targeted by Burglars

Josh Farley has a story Thursday illustrating how many burglaries occurred in 2007 in East Bremerton businesses.

“We haven’t had a rash of burglaries like this since 2003 or 2004,” said Bremerton Detective Sgt. Kevin Crane.

More than the loss of money and things, a burglary leaves the victim with a sense of being invaded. When it happens more than once, it leaves business owners wondering when the next one will happen.

One burglary could be an anomaly, but two puts you on edge, said Rafael Brambila, Taqueria’s owner.

“The most frustrating part is you never know if you’re going to get robbed again tomorrow or the next day, or if it’s going to be someone else,” he said.

Shooting in Bremerton

There was a shooting in Bremerton today around 1 p.m. or so. We’re checking on the details. A woman was reportedly shot twice.

The Bremerton School District just sent the following message.

The lockdowns at Bremerton High School and Naval Avenue Early Learning Center are over. We are now trying to get our students home safely, however, our district buses will be operating on a delayed schedule for ALL Bremerton Schools. We anticipate that the buses could be as much as 50 minutes late tonight.

Meanwhile, a few businesses in the area have been affected as well. Here are some of the comments left on our board.

“There are cops everywhere here. They have passed out flyers with the guys picture to me and my employees. This is one guy I hope they catch really soon so I can leave work.”

“I hate that this guy is just running around our streets!!”

“Tell me about it! We are in lockdown too over here on Burwell Street. The cops are swarming the place and all we can hear are the helicopters overhead. This is one bad guy they need to lock up.”

Check our front page for updates.