Monthly Archives: April 2014

WSP Chief: Troopers will be on the hunt for irresponsible motorcycle behavior

Don’t be a maverick, stay out of the danger zone

As the weather warms up — it’s beautiful outside, what are you doing staring at a computer screen? — law enforcement (and news reporters) watch with dread as the number of motorcycle fatalities climbs.

That dread was reflected in a statement the Washington State Patrol issued today, noting that State Patrol Chief John Batiste is not order troopers to crack down on dangerous motorcycle behavior.

“What order could I give that would be more powerful than their own experience investigating these completely preventable tragedies?” Batiste said in the grim, but tongue-in-cheek statement. Troopers see first hand the carnage, they help load injured riders into ambulances and frequently make death notifications to families.

The point of the statement was to emphasize: “You can bet troopers will be cracking down on irresponsible riding behavior.”

Last year 73 riders were killed in motorcycle crashes in Washington. In half of those it was a single-vehicle crash, and in the majority of the total it was the rider who caused the crash.

Speed, intoxication and inexperience are the contributing factors in many cases, the statement notes.

“This isn’t about clueless drivers pulling out of their driveways in front of motorcycles,” Batiste said in the statement.

Shelton man wanted to blow up Wal-Mart to distract cops from three planned bank heists

Source: Department of Corrections

While driving around Shelton, planning an apocalyptic scheme to blow up a Wal-Mart and gas stations, Larry Gillette, 53, allegedly held forth on his plans to use the explosions as cover for bank heists.

The other person in the car was an undercover officer working with an FBI task force, according to a statement Tuesday from the U.S. Attorneys Office.

The plan occurred to Gillette while serving time in prison for identity theft, the statement said, and he discussed it with other inmates.

After his release April 14 he made contact with the undercover officer in hopes of recruiting his help, the statement said.

Gillette had intended to cause as much carnage as possible with the bombings and robberies.

“The plot allegedly anticipated that while first responders were busy with the bombings, Gillette would rob three banks,” the statement said. “Gillette indicated he wanted the maximum loss of life to occur in the bombings and the bank robberies.”

The undercover agent gave Gillette four Glock handguns; Gillette apparently was unaware the guns were modified so they would not fire.

Gillette was arrested, however, when he met again with the agent and attempted to ignite a car bomb.

“The ‘bomb’ was inoperable,” the statement said.

The agent belonged to the Seattle Safe Streets Task Force, which includes personnel from the FBI and Seattle Police. The Mason County Sheriff’s Office, the Shelton Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives helped on the case.

Gillette was charged in federal court with solicitation to commit a crime of violence and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Distracted driving crackdown resulted in lots of stops, but problem persists

text and drive

The person driving on Highway 3 Thursday afternoon held the phone against the steering wheel with one hand and punched buttons with the other.

I punched the gas (ahem) and tried to get ahead of them.

Oddly enough, the person seemed more in control of their car than the person not too far behind, bobbing around the right lane, a cell phone pressed against their head.

The county waged a concerted effort to crack down on distracted driving earlier this month, from April 10 to 15, pulling people over, writing tickets. But after a few minutes on the highway, it looks like the crackdown never happened.

Even with the pleas from safety advocates, the state outlawing it and cops being paid overtime to just look for people chit-chatting without a hands free device and texting, it’s still plainly obvious texting and talking is endemic.

A study from Harborview Injury and Prevention Center found one in 10 drivers were seen texting or talking on a mobile phone.

Deputy Scott Wilson, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, compared it to smoking. The government can do a lot, but it can’t assign a cop to each driver.

Ultimately, it will be up to people to change their own behavior, he said.

The prohibition is a popular law, the recent effort to get the point across was cheered by many.

About 35 troopers, deputies and officers spent 140 overtime hours on the road, making 467 contacts with drivers suspected of not paying attention to what they were doing.

Those contacts resulted in 141 tickets for talking on mobile phones and 13 for texting or using other electronic devices, according to a statement from the Sheriff’s Office.

The lopsided results — more tickets for talking than texting — may be a result of how obvious cell phone usage is compared to texting, where the device is usually kept in a driver’s lap.

One Leadership Kitsap group is planning a project where they give away zip-lock bags to combat the problem. The hope is that people will stick their phones in the bag to serve as a reminder to leave their phones alone while driving. But that idea relies on people to change their own behavior.

“What’s it going to take? Something real startling happening to them to make them sit up and think a second time,” Wilson said.

A relative in need isn’t always a relative indeed


Tuesday afternoon, Bill was taking it easy at home when he got a call.
The voice was soft, “Like she was embarrassed,” said Bill, 83, of South Kitsap.

“Hi, grandpa,” the woman said. “I haven’t told anybody, but I’m in a little trouble.”

Bill’s ears perked up. “Oh? What’s the matter?”

“I did something that I got put in jail for.”

The woeful tale of misfortune didn’t come out all at once, “You had to drag what happened out of her.”

She was in jail, she said. She said she had gotten a ride home from a coworker the night before and the car was stopped for speeding. The officer did a search of the car and found drugs. Now she needed $5,500 to regain her liberty and put this calamity behind her before anybody found out and her good name fall into disrepute.

Bill was being scammed. It’s not a new one, but apparently it’s effective. It has been reported across the country, the state Attorney General’s Office has a warning on it. But it’s easy to see why it works so well.

It doesn’t rely on greed, to get over on somebody, or get a payoff too good to be true. It relies on somebody’s desire to help.

First thing Bill did, like most grandpas would do, is searched his mind. Who the heck is this?

He figured it was his grandson’s wife. His grandson had issues with the law, and once had found himself on the business end of a Taser. “It made a believer out of him,” Bill said.

It fit with what Bill already believed. He didn’t have $5,500 lying around, though. The granddaughter said she had voluntarily taken a “blood test,” the results of which proved she was not a drug user.

“She turned me over to a gentleman,” Bill said, then stopped. “A man, anyway, he may not be a gentleman in this case, who explained, yes, she was in jail. She had seen a judge and the judge agreed she could be released with a bond of $5,500.”

Bill says he made a mistake here. He told the man his grandson’s wife’s name, let’s call her Sally. That gave the “gentleman” something to go on.

That Sally, the “gentleman” said, was a real stand up gal. Everybody was impressed with her. And even though Bill couldn’t come up with $5,500, the “gentleman” said he would work on getting the amount lowered.

Meanwhile, the check should be sent to an address in Mississippi via FedEx.

Bill wouldn’t take credit for sniffing out the scam. His wife and son did the quick thinking, he said. They called around, called the jail, figured out it was all a bunch of hooey.

But it’s hard to blame Bill, who was ready to do what he could at a moment’s notice to help out his kin.

“They are pretty damn professional,” Bill said. “They had me convinced at first.”

For more information on the “Relative in need scam” go the Attorney General’s site.

To read another account of the scam, check out this story.

Lots of questions, few answers

By coincidence, as I was writing this story about Frank McDonald, the man whose quick and painful fall became all-too-real and all-too-public, I heard this story on the radio.


It is about a young man who became addicted to child porn. He did so because he is a pedophile, meaning his sexual orientation is toward children. It’s not a short piece, but well worth the listen. Especially for people trying to figure out ways to help keep kids safe.

Cyclists reunited with their bikes, thieves jailed


Happy endings for cyclists today, with three bicycle thieves being charged and bike owners reunited with their stolen bikes.


First, there was the case of the man being pistol whipped in downtown Bremerton by a drunk man apparently showing off a new BB gun to his girlfriend. The robber really wanted money, but settled for the victim’s bike.


When the cops went to his girlfriend’s apartment, after being led there by a tracking dog, the thief answered it by wheeling the bike out the door.

He was charged with first-degree robbery. That charge ain’t no joke.


In the second, a bereaved cyclist turned sleuth tracked down the two tweekers trying to slang his stolen Bad Boy on Craigslist.


They met up in Suquamish, with the victim and the cops.


The most suspicious part of this story is that the victim claimed his Cannondale hybrid was worth $1,500 because of “aftermarket parts.”

Distracted driving is a problem for everybody else, but not you, you’re fine

Stock Photo
Figure A1 – Proper form for remaining undistracted: driver deploys “hand,” which distracting passenger may address

If you are reading this as you are driving down the road, pay close attention and read every word carefully. Don’t skim! It might save your life, or the life of somebody you love. Maybe take a sip of that coffee to wake yourself up, because you are going to want to remember this.

Starting Thursday, law enforcement in Kitsap County will be cracking down on distracted driving, especially those who talk on the phone and text while driving. That includes the Sheriff’s Office, the State Patrol and city police.
I said, cracking down on distracted driving. The tickets run upwards of $124.

Distracted, I said. Distracted, meaning people who are steering loaded missiles down public roads but not paying attention, especially those talking on the phone and texting. I said, talking on the phone and …

Speaking of distracted, those are cute sweat pants. Oh, and I see you have brought along a garden salad to eat while you drive. You must be very health conscious. Sure, I can pass the dressing. Would you like me to shake it up? Yes, bully idea bringing along the Bluetooth fondue pot. It plugs right into the cigarette lighter, you say? How clever.

Anyway, a 2013 study found that nearly one in 10 drivers on the road doesn’t have a clue of what they are doing. Oh, got another call? I’ll wait.
In fact, the study from UW Medicine’s Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center said that about half of distracted drivers were texting. I said, UW Medicine’s …

Oh my, the egg of your Egg McMuffin just escaped its muffin stronghold. That’s quite a grease stain it left on your cute sweat pants. What do you mean, “Let it go, man?” It’s just under the gas pedal, go ahead and reach down there and grab it. I’ll wait.

Anywho, distracted driving has been compared to drunken driving, as it …
I said, distracted driving … Oh, that guy searching for a song on his iPod just cut you off, give him the finger. I don’t think he noticed. Now update your Facebook status. Here’s a suggestion: “They will give licenses to anybody these days.” That will teach him.

What were we talking about again?