Tag Archives: Washington State Patrol

Troopers can applicant that ‘borrowed’ prescription drugs

The Washington State Patrol’s recruiters are “concerned” that an undisclosed number of applicants have disclosed they’ve borrowed from prescription drugs from friends and family for their own medical problems, the patrol said in a news release Thursday. 

“Concerned,” perhaps, but it should not come as a surprise. Starting in the 1990s, prescription opiate drugs, in particular, began to be prescribed at much higher rates. The many consequences of that have been documented by news media around the country, including in our very own Kitsap Sun. And, as there are just way more of these potent pain-killing drugs out there, I don’t think it comes as a shock to anyone that they’re also being “borrowed” more often, too.

That doesn’t make it right and the state patrol points out that such borrowing is a felony crime in no uncertain terms.

The patrol said an applicant has been disqualified for borrowing prescription drugs. Here’s the full news release:

(Olympia)—Recruiters at the Washington State Patrol are concerned about the number of State Patrol applicants who report using prescription drugs obtained from friends or relatives for otherwise legitimate medical issues.

It’s dangerous to use prescription medicine that’s been prescribed to someone else. Those with aspirations of working in law enforcement need to know it’s also a felony crime.

“These candidates may have taken the drugs for legitimate medical conditions, and might well have been prescribed the same drugs had they gone to a doctor,” said Capt. Jeff DeVere, commander of the Patrol’s Human Resource Division. “Getting them from a friend is an illegal drug transaction, and will likely disqualify you from employment as a State Trooper.”

A coming wave of retirements among troopers means that the Patrol is hiring at an unprecedented rate. Several months ago, the Patrol struggled to find candidates who were in sufficiently good physical condition. After a wave of public education, candidates are showing up ready to do sit-ups, push-ups and to run.

Now, prescription drug use is the latest obstacle to hiring.

“If you roll your ankle playing pickup basketball, or get a migraine during finals week, go to your doctor not your roommate,” DeVere said.

In doing background investigations, the State Patrol looks at the entire person and not just isolated incidents. However, any kind of illegal drug use places a burden on the candidate that is hard to overcome.

The Patrol is not concerned about drugs, of whatever type, that might have been legally prescribed by a doctor. A medical exam that includes disclosure of current medical conditions is a separate part of the hiring process. That exam will determine if the applicant is in good enough health to perform the essential job functions of a trooper.


Taken hostage in Seabeck

Blogger’s Note: Katie Scaff, the Kitsap Sun’s summer intern, got an inside look at how law enforcement trains for the most stressful of situations. Here’s her first hand account:

It’s not every day that you get taken hostage on the job, but when the opportunity arises I say, Take it.

This is my second summer interning for the Kitsap Sun, and today I was sent out to cover the State Patrol SWAT team training at Camp Wesley Harris off Seabeck Highway.

I got a brief rundown of what to expect after talking with Cpl. James Prouty last night. He said I would spend the day by his side, basically trying to stay out of the way while getting the information I needed.

When I arrived in the morning though, I was greeted by Washington State Patrol Lt. and SWAT Cmdr. Ron Mead, who offered me the chance to see the events unfold from inside.

“You want to be a hostage?” he asked.

There was no question about it.

After going through a security check to make sure I wasn’t bringing in any concealed weapons, I was escorted to a training building on the property.

Within one of the rooms sat four men playing cards around a table.

Before I could sit down and get settled, the man sitting at the end of the table answered his phone.

In a gruff English accent, he responded to a voice on the other end that he had four people “lying flat down.”

The conversation continued.

“Nobody’s hurt here, but see how hurt my family is now that I don’t have a job,” he said.

He hung up, put down the phone and grabbed his hand of cards.

It wasn’t the hostage scenario I imagined, but events escalated as time went on.

The captor, played by trooper Dave Bennett was supposed to be a disgruntled and recently fired information technology company employee, who, upset over the situation, took some of his former co-workers hostage.

The scenario began around 9 a.m., and Prouty and Sgt. Donovan Daly filtered in and out of the building, monitoring the work of the negotiators and Bennett’s role as the captor.

“I’m pretty much just making it up as I’m going along,” said Bennett.

Bennett’s enthusiasm for his role faded as the morning wore on though.

He accepted a phone from negotiators around 11 a.m., but demands for “diet fizzy pop” fizzled into conversations with the negotiator that were inaudible from my location.

He released one hostage in exchange for pizza for the group, but the situation wasn’t moving forward.

Prouty returned and warned us that the SWAT team would soon intervene.

“Things are going to get really chaotic,” Prouty said.

It was a training exercise, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t some risk involved.

The team was armed with pellet guns and Simunition, non-lethal training ammunition that resembles paintball pellets—so moments before they entered, Prouty outfitted us in earplugs, neck guards, and helmets.

They entered with a bang. First with the door. Then with two stun grenades—also known as flashbangs, which do exactly what the name implies.

“Hands up, hands up,” they called, pointing their guns at us.

A group took down Bennett and the hostage near him, while another group told the other hostage and me to get down to the ground.

“Hands at the small of your back,” they told us.

They zip tied our hands and escorted three of us to another room, leaving Bennett behind.

They checked us for weapons and brought us into another building to see how the events unfolded from our perspective.

The intervention happened so fast after hours of sitting and waiting, but how many people can say they’ve been held hostage?

Anyone taken a bottle to their windshield on Highway 3?

Russell, a man from the other side of Puget Sound, wrote me recently with a scary story. 

He was driving on Highway 3 Saturday night. “I was going under the Loxie Eagans overpass somebody threw an object from the overpass hitting my windshield,” he said.

It didn’t shatter his windshield but it cracked badly. Russell was pretty shaken up by it.

“I know they were aiming for my car and I’m sure I wasn’t the first and I wont be the last,” he wrote me. “This person is going to kill somebody if they’re not stopped.”

Wisely, he reported it to the Washington State Patrol. No arrests have been made, however.

Has anyone had something like this happen to them?

Followup: Story of stolen Escalade, sold by police, crosses state lines

The stolen Escalade had traveled through two countries and across many state lines before it landed in Washington, where Bremerton police inadvertently sold it at an auction. 

We told you about this particular Cadillac Escalade in early October, after the unknowing purchaser of the SUV had it seized by the Washington State Patrol. In turn, he filed a lawsuit against the Bremerton Police Department.

The city’s lawyers have been digging into the case to figure out what happened. While the lawsuit continues, here’s what they’ve found out thus far: the Escalade was seized in a 2003 coke bust and, per Washington law, forfeited to the police department.

Police checked with the Washington State Department of  Licensing to see if it was stolen.

“There was no evidence that the vehicle was stolen,” Bremerton Assistant City Attorney Mark Koontz said in a statement. “The police department eventually sold the vehicle at  auction as authorized by state law.”

It wasn’t until summer 2011 that police here found out the Washington State Patrol had seized the SUV, finding it was stolen. State patrol officials informed the city the Escalade was stolen off an auto dealer’s lot in Canada in 2002, before it landed in Indiana, Missouri, Michigan and finally, Washington.

Much mystery still shrouds the how and why it went state to state, as it was never reported stolen in that time, city attorney said.

But state troopers were able to uncover its identity by finding more obscure locations of its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). The number had been falsified in its more obvious locations on the dash board in in the driver’s side door.

Koontz said rarely does local law enforcement have specialized training at finding hidden VIN numbers and believes “the police department acted reasonably,” in backgrounding the SUV before auctioning it off.

“Even so, the city is hopeful that it can reach a resolution to this matter to the satisfaction of all parties,” he said.

I’ve not yet heard back from the lawyer for the plaintiff in the case, but I’ll let you know when I do.

Tweet with the chief of the Washington State Patrol Wednesday

or everything, there is a first. And on Wednesday, the Washington State Patrol’s chief will forge headfirst into the foray of social media.

Chief John Batiste will host an hour and a half session of #askWSP on Twitter. From 2:30-4 p.m. Wednesday, he’ll be at ready to respond to whatever the Twittersphere throws his way.

“I love going to Rotary and Kiwanis, and other events where I get to hear directly from the people we serve,” Batiste said in a press release. “This is a simply a new way of doing what all good leaders should be doing.”

The chief said he’ll be challenged to stay to 140-character answers.

“I have big hands, so I hope people will excuse any typos,” he said.

UPDATE, 9/28: Batiste has been typing away this afternoon answering questions. To see them go here.

More from the press release:

Batiste will be assisted by staff who will quickly research any detailed questions. About the only topic off-limits will be those concerning active investigations. Questions that demand more than 140 characters will be more fully answered on WSP’s Facebook page.

You can watch or participate in the “#askWSP” event by following @wastatepatrol on Twitter. Questions should be tweeted with the hashtag “#askWSP.”

Followup: Humane society responds to dog owner’s claims

The Kitsap Humane Society released a lengthy statement Wednesday pertaining to Bremerton resident Doug Bolds’ allegations about how his dog was handled when Bolds was arrested for DUI in June 2010.

Here’s their release:

June 15, 2011 – Silverdale, WA – In 2010, Kitsap Humane Society successfully reunited nearly 600 pets with their owners. We prefer that all companion animals remain with their original owner so long as the animal is well provided for. We make every attempt to return animals to their owners, including microchip scanning, lost and found audio report (available by calling the shelter) and lost and found online report. We also hold all stray animals for 96 hours before they are available for adoption to give owners an opportunity to locate them at the shelter and reclaim them. We follow these guidelines for a stray animal or an animal of someone who has been arrested or incarcerated.

In addition, for an incarcerated citizen, our standard operating procedure is to fax an owner release form to the correctional facility where the owner is being held. We then hold the animal for five days to give them adequate time to make arrangements to pick up their animal. We handle these types of situations on a weekly basis. Unless the owner has been arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty charges, we make every effort to reunite animals with their owners.

According to Doug Bolds’ statements to the Kitsap Sun, he claims Kitsap Humane Society adopted his dog out without giving him the opportunity to reclaim it. There is ambiguity surrounding the allegations made by Bolds as there are no microchip or license records indicating he is the original owner of the dog, despite the fact that pet licensing is required by law. Our records do indicate the dog arrived at KHS on June 3, 2010 and was adopted 14 days later. We have no records indicating that Bolds made any attempt to contact KHS, either directly or through friends or family during this time period, though the dog was in a kennel in a public area of our shelter until it was adopted.

We do, however, have a record of a subsequent contact between Bolds and one of our officers in January 2011. Bolds was a bystander in an unrelated case. In the course of the investigation, Bolds accused the officer of taking his dog in June (the officer was not involved in the original case) and adopting it to someone else the next day. Bolds told the officer that “the troopers” told him KHS had adopted the dog out the day after it was impounded. The officer told Bolds that KHS would not have done so; that the shelter holds animals for a minimum of five days before adopting them out. The officer gave Bolds Animal Welfare Director, Stacey Price’s phone number and instructed him to call her. When Bolds called Stacey, he was belligerent and verbally abusive before hanging up on her, refusing to answer any of her questions. This was the last interaction we had with Bolds.

Kitsap Humane Society has been serving the communities of Kitsap County since 1908 and is an independent nonprofit, currently providing Animal Control contract services to Kitsap County, Bremerton, Bainbridge Island, Port Orchard, Poulsbo and Naval Base Kitsap.

Trooper Killed in Zillah Fire Trained in Bremerton

This morning we were greeted with the news of a tragic fire that killed three Washington State Patrol employees in Zillah. And it so happens that Trooper Kristopher Sperry, one of those killed, did some of his training in Bremerton.

While all state patrol troopers go through the academy in Shelton, they do “field training” around the state.

Trooper Kristopher Sperry completed his assignment with an FTO in Bremerton prior to graduating from the academy and being assigned to District 3. Here’s his bio, provided by WSP:

“Trooper Kristopher Sperry, 30, was hired in 2008 and graduated with the 97th Trooper Basic Class in June 2010. His hometown was Eureka, MT. While in the Academy received the Top Fitness award as the most physically fit cadet in his class. Sperry was living with the Millers while his own home was being built.”

Along with Sperry, WSP Communications Officer Anne Miller-Hewitt and her husband, Trooper Gary Miller were killed as well.

“Ann and Gary were long-time employees, and were the best of the best,” State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste said in a press release. “We were just getting to know Kristopher, but he had excelled at the Academy and had a very promising future with our agency.”

I might add from the state’s press release this tragic note: “The State Patrol has never lost three employees in a simultaneous event, either on or off-duty.”

The investigation into the fire continues.

Al Qaida Bomb or Tribal Fireworks? The Ferry Dogs Won’t Sniff the Difference

The many pooches that patrol the Washington State Ferries may find some petty crime this week as they make their usual rounds through the ferry loading lots.

Generally seeking to sniff out weapons of mass casualties, the dogs, trained to detect a multitude of explosive chemicals, will “alert” on carloads of fireworks — and if troopers find you’re carrying illegal ones, you’ll “be subject to criminal prosecution,” according to a Washington State Patrol press release.

“Ferry customers are expected to obey laws regarding legal fireworks in Washington State,” WSP Homeland Security Division Commander Captain Mark Thomas said in the release. “Legal fireworks include sparklers, ground spinners and roman candles. Illegal fireworks or other explosive devices are not allowed on ferries and will be confiscated and disposed of by the Washington State Patrol.”

To see which fireworks are legal and which are not, click here, whether you’re planning to go to the tribal fireworks establishments or just head to a local stand.

Five Things You Might Not Know About WestNET

The West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team — WestNET for short — often emerges briefly from complex drug investigations with a story of arrests and prosecutions. But most of its work is done in the depths of the drug trade, following up tips, working with informants and going up the supply chain to bigger criminal enterprises.

But what do we know about our local drug task force? Here are five things about this cadre of detectives you might not know. Many of these questions are ones I often get from readers. The answers come directly from detectives on the task force.

How are they funded? Yes, they do get federal money. But local agencies also pay to send their personnel to work there. The Bremerton Police Department, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office and others make up the seven detectives in the unit. Its sergeant is Carlos Rodriguez, who comes from the Washington State Patrol.

Is any medical marijuana user safe from them? WestNET’s busts of people who have medical marijuana cards from a doctor have made the news recently and frequently. But are there those with cards whom they ignore? Rodriguez says yes. They look to the state’s rule of a maximum of 15 plants and 24 ounces of pot for medical users. He said they leave those within that rule alone, unless there’s evidence of trafficking or selling. In cases where there are more than 15 plants or 24 ounces, he said they take the plants or product over limit, leave the rest and then forward a report to the appropriate prosecutor’s office for review.

How many of WestNET’s cases involve those who have medical marijuana recommendations? Rodriguez said that in 2009, 20 of their 57 marijuana grow investigations claimed to use pot for medical purposes. This year, five of 13 have said the same.

Does WestNET investigate anything besides marijuana? Yes. They have mobility to move up the ladder of sellers of drugs of any kind. Because they are a small unit, a big case can often skew their stats. For instance, one such investigation took the amount of club drugs they confiscated in 2008 to 2009 from 281 doses to 27,500.

What’s a breakdown of the amount of drugs the task force took in 2009? According to Rodriguez:

Marijuana: about 3,500 plants in 57 cases;

Cocaine: 37.6 grams in five cases;

Club drugs and doses: 27,500 in five cases;

OxyContin and other prescription drugs: 2,350 grams in 11 cases;

Meth: Almost 2,000 grams in 22 cases;

Heroin: About 310 grams in five cases.

No Grace Period for Cell Phone Yapping Drivers

Drivers beware: There’ll be no easing into a new state law that makes it illegal to talk on a cell phone and drive without a hands free device.

Come June 10, Washington state troopers will be giving out $124 tickets. Troopers said that while it’s common for the state patrol to offer an “educational grace period when a new law requires drivers to change long-standing behavior,” there’ll be no such thing this time around.

“Drivers have already had nearly two years to adjust their driving habits,” said state patrol chief John Batiste. “We will fully enforce this law from day one.”

It had already been illegal to text and talk on a cell phone without a hands free device, but law enforcement couldn’t enforce it unless the driver had committed another “primary” offense. Even so, troopers have written 3,000 tickets and given 5,900 warnings since that law went into effect.

I’m seeing some pretty good deals on hands free devices around the web. Better to pay the $40 or so for one now than have a $124 ticket and a lecture from a state trooper.

Batiste is disappointed that the laws’ previous status didn’t win more voluntary
compliance. In some cases there was outright defiance.

“They would look right at our troopers with phones held to their ears,” Batiste
said. “They knew that without another violation we couldn’t do anything.”

The texting and cell phone requirements are intended to save lives and reduce
injuries by eliminating these two major sources of driver distraction.

“Few drivers are going to admit they were on a cell phone, or texting, after a
crash,” Batiste said. “We are choosing to take action before a collision occurs
in hopes of preventing these needless tragedies.”

The fine for a violation is $124.