Tag Archives: Poulsbo police

Poulsbo cold case surfaces

“Poulsbo Police are investigating as a homicide the death of Donald E. Hellie, 47, 194 6th Avenue., in Poulsbo, whose body was found in his home by police Saturday afternoon.” 

Those were the words of a brief story that ran in the Bremerton Sun 34 years ago, on Sept. 19, 1977. Why are we bringing it up now? It turns out his violent stabbing death had eluded kitsapsun.com‘s database of unsolved homicides spanning the last half-century.

We published the database in May 2010 following several months of research. We knew we might miss a case or two. And sure enough, after the database was posted, we received several calls and emails that referenced deaths we’d missed.

Earlier this year, we relayed the story of 20-year-old Matthew Evans, when his body was found on a Saturday morning in August 1993 along Old Clifton Road. His death, classified as a homicide, has been added as well.

But I’d also heard from readers in Poulsbo since the database was published. And so I asked the Poulsbo Police Department to look in their files and see if they had any cold cases. I got some limited information this week, but it included a date of death: September 16, 1977.

Using that, I got into our newspaper archives and found a few clippings around that date. Lo and behold, I found three articles (which you see here) pertaining to the homicide.

The case is cold, but open — and now, added to the database. And as we’ve said before, it’s important to remember these cases for posterity. But any helpful tips toward solving the cases will have made the project worthwhile.

In memoriam: The crown vic, law enforcement’s ‘warhorse’

Police officers have a reputation for being tough. But over the past week, I’ve heard several cops wax nostalgic about the departure of a dear colleague: The Ford Crown Victoria.

The “crown vic,” for short, has become, in its three decades, a sine qua non of American police departments. But Ford has decided it’s time for the model to accept its pension and gold watch, according to an article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

“It is a sad day,” said Kitsap County Undersheriff Dennis Bonneville. “The old crown vic has served law enforcement well for many years.”

Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer called the crown vic law enforcement’s longtime “warhorse.”

“The Crown Vic was probably the best patrol car used by law enforcement agencies ever,” echoed Mason County Chief Deputy Dean Byrd. “It was bulletproof and durable. It was agile and large enough to house all of the equipment necessary for a deputy or officer to do his or her job.”

Byrd added that some departments, including Port Angeles police, aren’t yet willing to let go, experimenting with rebuilding their existing crown vics to extend their functional lives.

“So far the results are promising,” he said.

For those not going the Port Angeles route, what’s next?

Poulsbo Police Sgt. Bob Wright said his department had been expecting the crown vic’s departure — and had even found something they liked a little better a few years back, gas prices be darned: an SUV.

“In 2003, we started to move from sedans to a more versatile police vehicle, a four wheel drive Ford Explorer which was built on a truck frame. The vehicle cost was nearly the same as the Crown Vic.

The four wheel drive turned out to be the best value for the money. The vehicles could go anywhere which is especially valuable in a City that is built on hills and gets some very bad weather in the winters.  Prior to this we were having to chain up and down police cars daily and breaking lots of tire chains during response to emergencies.”

There’s also the factor that law enforcement officers are increasingly tasked with carrying more and more equipment, he pointed out.

Ford, of course, is rolling out new “police interceptor” patrol cars to meet the law enforcement demand. If more police departments move to something bigger, like Poulsbo did, they could pick Ford’s SUV interceptor model.

Port Orchard Police Chief Al Townsend added his department is looking to try the new Chevrolet Caprice and Ford Police Interceptor  (its sedan model).

If history tells us anything, the police car of the future — in America at least — will probably be a Ford. The Crown Victoria held 70 percent of the market for police vehicles last year, according to the Star-Tribune article.

State Cops, Too, Will Follow Cell Phone Law

Talking on a cell phone while driving will soon cost you $124. A new law bumps up the existing cell phone ban from secondary offense to primary — meaning that an officer does not need any other reason to write you up for carrying on a conversation while heading down the highway.

There were exceptions to the law, however, one of which is if the person holding the phone is badged and driving a car with lights and sirens.

The Washington State Patrol, however, is rewriting its own handbook in that regard. Its chief, John Batiste, believes his troopers need to set an example.

“Using a hands-free device is a good idea for everyone, including troopers,” Batiste said in a press release. “Every driver has an obligation to be at their best while behind the wheel.”

Batiste added that he supports cell phone use by employees because the state patrol’s radio
system can be monitored, and phones can provide a way to communicate privately.

The state isn’t the only one to push for hands free devices. The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office has installed a hands free system called Parrot into nearly all of its patrol cars in the last six months, spokesman Scott Wilson said.

It may be implemented as a policy at the sheriff’s office as well. But as Wilson points out, the system, which broadcasts the call over the car’s stereo, is “crystal clear,” and convenient.

“I don’t know why anybody would not use it,” he said.

Not all of the county’s law enforcement agencies are changing policy. But the higher ups are asking for their officers to use good judgment.

“We have not set any such similar policy requiring them to use hands free devices, but we have suggested that they use good judgment and talk on the phone without hands free devices only when its safe to do so,” Port Orchard Police Chief Al Townsend wrote to me in an email. “Most of our officers use their own personally owned cell phones and have the hands free blue tooth type devices already and use them while on duty just like they would on their off duty time.”

Shawn Delaney, Poulsbo Police Department’s deputy chief, said they too don’t have a policy. But he said they’re cognizant that the public might not realize officers are exempt from the law, and want to set an example in not using the phone unless it’s necessary in the commission of their duties.

Tom Wolfe, Bremerton Police’s captain of patrol, said the department also encourages officers to pull over for calls that aren’t emergent in nature.

That said, there are circumstances — in progress calls and the like — where the officer has no choice but to talk on a cell phone while driving. The situation is so imminent that even going hands free is too time consuming, he said.

“The need to convey information in some situations immediately outweighs attempting to hook a phone up to any device,” he said.