Monthly Archives: August 2008

Those That Carry Concealed Among Us

As you’ll see in a story coming Sunday, the number of concealed pistol licenses in Washington is up 43 percent in four years. Kitsap and Mason counties echo that trend.

There are, in total, about 258,000 people in the state who can choose to carry a hidden lethal weapon on their person, according to the Department of Licensing.

Just who are these people? Where do they live and work? What motivates them to pack heat? That was the question I attempted to answer in Sunday’s story to come.

In doing the story, I attempted to shy away from the age-old debate of the second amendment, one that burns bright in the psyche of America. There are those who simply believe more guns equal more crime, and those who simply believe more guns equal less crime. And both sides have stats readily available to share.

It was pretty much an impossible task avoiding this perennial hot button issue. But I tried to steer the story toward issues relevant to concealed carry. And further, trying to answer this question: do concealed carriers make our society safer, or more dangerous?

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the story, as well as what you believe the answer to that question to be.

Border Patrol Amps Peninsula Patrols

A caller informed us this week of a strange, but not unbelievable sight: the U.S. Border Patrol had set up shop on Highway 104 just west of the Hood Canal Bridge.

I talked with Border Patrol Spokesman Michael Bermudez today, who confirmed that the patrol was conducting random checkpoints — and that there’ll be more of them to come across the Olympic Peninsula.

He said agents set up the checkpoint between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. While on the lookout for terrorists, human traffickers, drug smugglers and criminals on the lam, they detained seven undocumented illegal immigrants, he said.

One other person was taken to the Clallam County jail, as he was wanted by Port Angeles Police, Bermudez said.

But I had to ask Bermudez: what are the laws governing such random searches? I had on my mind Gov. Christine Gregoire’s failed efforts this year to set up DUI checkpoints.

According to federal law, agents can conduct searches within a “reasonable distance” from the border (Bermudez said this has been determined to be 100 miles) for possible illegal aliens. During such search, if other crimes are uncovered, or agents feel they have reasonable suspicion those being searched are committing a crime, they can also be arrested.

This story was covered by some Olympic Peninsula newspapers, including the Port Townsend Leader.

One Prolific Bike Thief (North of the Border)

If you haven’t had the chance to read about Toronto’s recently exposed bike thief, I highly recommend you check it out.

Igor Kenk had racked up about 3,000 bicycles, according to a story by Canadian Press. He was at the center of a ring that made cyclists in Toronto understandably very unhappy (disclosure: I too have experienced bicycle theft, and it’s a horrible feeling, like any property crime).

At a court hearing in early August, Kenk, who seemed to acknowledge the anger he’d caused, said to a judge, simply: “I’m a dead man.”

Wanted: A Permanent Sheriff’s Office Home

For the past few months, the Mason County Sheriff’s Office has been afforded a generous opportunity: a “substation” in Belfair — a place deputies are perennially stretched thin — where they’ve been able to become more entrenched in the North Mason community.

But the deputies have gotten the boot from 21 NE Romance Hill.

To be fair, the cause of the boot is a good one: the groundbreaking of a new hospital. And the sheriff’s office had secured one heck of a deal from the Krueger family — $1 a day to house all their north end police operations.

Now, the job is to find a new home.
“We knew when we leased this building it would be a short term fix until we could move into a more permanent facility,” said Mason County Sheriff Casey Salisbury.  “However, at the time, it was an operational necessity to move our North Mason Substation to a stand alone facility.”

He’s right about that — their former digs was a couple cubicles inside the Belfair Chamber of Commerce building. Not ideal.

Where do they go from here? The sheriff’s office hasn’t made any concrete plans. But as their press release on this issue states, “Maintaining a viable facility to conduct public safety business is an integral part of that commitment.”

Marijuana ‘Potline’ Launched

The Seattle-based Cannabis Defense Coalition has created a phone hotline they hope will help “collect data on law-enforcement compliance with the state’s medical marijuana law,” according to a press release.

The coalition aims to use the data to “hold accountable agencies that violate the spirit of the
state’s medical use of marijuana act,” passed by voters in 1998.

Patients, as well as law enforcement agencies, appear caught in a “Cloud of Confusion,” as we reported in a story last year. But the state’s Department of Health appears to have helped clear the issue a bit with its recommendation on how much an approved medical marijuana patient should be allowed to have.

Prior to July 1, Washington’s law was phrased to be a “60-day supply” — no more specific than that. Now, the DOH is recommending patients can have up to 24 ounces of dried pot, 18 immature plants and 6 mature plants.

The defense coalition has taken aim at the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office over a couple of cases recently.

The “potline” is available 24 hours a day at at (888) 208-5332.

Study: Pills Easier for Teens to Get than Beer

For the first time, more American teenagers said in a survey that it was easier for them to get prescription drugs than beer, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

“For the first time in the CASA survey’s history, more teens said prescription drugs were easier to buy than beer (19 vs. 15 percent),” said a press release from the organization. “The proportion of teens who say prescription drugs are easiest to buy jumped 46 percent since 2007 (13 vs. 19 percent). Almost half (46 percent) of teens say painkillers are the most commonly abused prescription drug among teens.

As we covered in our Sunday story, “A Bitter Pill,” the medicine cabinet has become the new liquor cabinet. Joseph Califano, chairman and president of the center who was interviewed for a story in the Washington Post, said parents have become “passive pushers,” because they’re not doing enough to deter their own offspring’s access to drugs in their own homes.

Bremerton’s ‘Cop Cams’: Just the Tip of the Iceberg?

About five months in to Bremerton’s grand traffic camera experiment, it’s safe to say we’ve adjusted to the “cop cams” — or at least, our wallets have felt an adjustment.

But those in Bremerton may just be preparing for an inevitability: more cameras, everywhere.

McClatchy Newspapers reported Monday that more than 300 communities around the nation are using said “cop cams.” But it’s not just for red lights, McClatchy reports. Speed cameras are cropping up. Soon there’ll be cameras on buses and in construction zones, they say.

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NK’s Wave of Strange, Tragic Crime Continues

An attempted shooting Sunday night on the Port Gamble S’Klallam reservation  is the latest in what has been a bizarre, all-too-tragic year of criminal activity in Kitsap County’s north end.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but nary a homicide had occurred in North Kitsap — Poulsbo city limits northward — for about a decade before last October.

Today, two men await trial for alleged murders that occurred in Kingston. David Robert Adams was arraigned Aug. 4 in the strangling death of Richard Hugh Jones Jr. And last October saw the stabbing death of Jeffrey Allen McKinstry, whose son Garrett McKinstry is believed by sheriff’s deputies to be the culprit.

Also, a burglary ring involving more than 100 break ins and $250,000 in property  was uncovered by sheriff’s deputies earlier this year that resulted in numerous arrests and convictions.

So what gives?

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