Category Archives: Crime and Justice: How to …

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.

Crime tech: Accelerating the slow DNA testing process

Criminal justice aficionados, put this little news tidbit under your caps. A new technology for testing DNA samples may drastically cut the time it takes investigators to analyze it, according to the Baltimore Sun.

The process is called “microfluidics” and the National Institute of Justice is supplying $1 million to to spur collaboration between the Baltimore Police Department, Yale University and Advanced Liquid Logic, a North Carolina company that came up with the new testing technology, the Sun reports.

It’s going to be awhile before the technology will be ready — and that’s if it works. But the potential here is to cut the expensive and time intensive process from 24 hours to one, using tiny samples one-hundredth of a raindrop in size, Advanced Liquid Logic CEO Richard West told the Sun.

Here at our Sun in Kitsap, we often receive calls and emails from frustrated residents about why criminal cases take so long to bring to a charge. One big reason is that the Washington State Patrol’s crime lab needs time to complete DNA testing.

Perhaps one day soon, that process will be much shorter.

Flashing your headlights: a first amendment right? (Part 2)

Blogger’s Note: When a Florida man flashed his headlights to warn oncoming motorists of an upcoming speed trap, he was pulled over and ticketed. He’s taken the fight to court, where he’s filed a class-action lawsuit alleging his free speech rights were violated.

I’ve sought the perspective of two locals — Bremerton defense attorney Stan Glisson and Port Orchard top cop Al Townsend — to give us their take on this unusual but intriguing case. Here is Townsend’s commentary. Glisson’s essay appeared FridayBe sure to read up on the case first

JF: “A Florida man is suing for violation of his first amendment rights because he passed a speed trap and then flashed his headlights — and got ticketed for it. In Washington, would this type of thing be grounds for a ticket? Why or why not?”

AT: “It would NOT … The legal answer is state law forbids people from shining their high beam lights at other drivers in the range of 300 to 500 feet. So it would be uncommon in my mind for someone driving around after dark to get stopped if they are driving with their high beams on because they could be impacting the vision of oncoming cars.

Now, I suppose technically, if you are flashing your high beams at another car then you are driving with your high beams on and could be subject to that law.  But … we would not stop a  car for doing that as it relates to notifying other drivers of a radar zone or even when other drivers try to get the attention of a driver who is cruising down the road with his high beams on (to get his attention to shut them off).

In fact … if more people would do that when they see cops running radar, more people would slow down and accomplish our goal.

If one of my cops did the Florida thing and stopped a car for flashing his headlights at another car that was warning him of a radar set, he’d be on the carpet in my office … I can guarantee you it would only happen once.”

Al Townsend is police chief in the city of Port Orchard. Aside from his administrative duties, he is known as one of the few top cops who regularly patrols the streets with the line officers.

How to Keep Your Car Safe (and What to do if you Don’t)


They’re taking cars. Going on short rides. Stealing your stuff from them. And then dumping the evidence.

Thieves have taken 30 cars in as many days in the East Bremerton area, prompting a Kitsap County Sheriff’s detectives’ investigation. But while the investigators dig into the case, chances are more cars will be taken.

Courtesy of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, here’s some useful tips to safeguard yourself from car theft, as well as what to do if you become a victim of such a crime. But first a few links: hear the story of two victims of car theft here and here, and see the list of the most stolen cars in the nation here.

Continue reading

Bainbridge Police Aim to Cease ‘Paint Night’


Following what could only be termed as a disastrous “Paint Night 2008,” the Bainbridge Island Police Department will be cracking down in 2009.

That’s the message police lieutenant Sue Shultz delivered to the Bainbridge High School PTSA Tuesday night. “We’re going to put a cease to it,” she told me.

Last year, the perennial paint night — where students usually paint their names and graduation class onto the island’s pastoral streets — took a turn for the worse when two seniors took their paint to police cars. They also defaced signs like this one (pictured) as you head onto the island on Highway 305.

This year, students caught painting on roads and other public sites will have malicious mischief charges waiting for them, she said.

But one such tradition has her particularly worried: the annual painting of the graduating year on the water tower near the high school. She said they’re painting over the “08” and “anyone that tries to paint 09 that gets caught will be arrested.”

Shultz, who said she’s hoping to help the high school establish a more safe tradition, also wants to reassure students that police aren’t doing such a crack down to be mean.

“The police are not out to get you,” she said. “They are here to help you. The last thing I want to do is have to tell your parents you fell from the water tower.”

Will a Kitsap Crime Uptick Follow Economic Downturn?

A story in the Charlotte Observer this morning appears to confirm that one consequence of these economic tough times is more crime.

There were bright spots of crime drops in Christopher D. Kirkpatrick’s story. But here’s Kirkpatrick’s correlation: ” … The number of reported home burglaries was up 10 percent, as the economy soured and unemployment grew,” he wrote.

Home burglaries are often opportunity crimes in which thieves typically try to avoid confrontation but hope to score big by pawning your stuff.

As crime and justice insiders around here — and elsewhere — are well aware, drug addiction fuels crime like no other. But I asked each of our local law enforcement agencies if they’re seeing crimes in which the suspect (if caught) made the claim: “I was just trying to feed my family,” or some other economic-laden excuse.

Continue reading

Decoding ‘XMT’ Washington State Plates


Everyone seems to have a way to spot an undercover cop car.

These days, it’s not so easy. Unmarked Dodge Chargers and other stealthily vehicles used by police for traffic enforcement are hard to spot. Obviously, they do this for a reason — so aggressive speeders won’t see them.

But what about determining which kind of law enforcement you’re receiving a financial spanking from?

The cop’s uniform (click here to read about the different ones) should be a dead giveaway. But if you want to know by simply looking at their vehicle, here’s how:

Continue reading