Reporting litterers and aggressive drivers

The in basket: Tracy Kendall and a fellow named Ben have asked where to call to report driver misbehavior of different kinds.

Tracy said, “I had a frustrating situation a few weeks back and have stewed about it since. I was driving along Sedgwick Road going east over SR16 when a driver in the car in front of me dropped her burning cigarette out her window.

“This was when we were on high burn ban alert and hadn’t had rain in more than 40 days!” She had her daughter write down the license plate number and vehicle description and called 911 to report the dangerous act.

“The CenCom dispatcher told me she wouldn’t take the information and that I was to report it to the Health Department!!” Tracy said.

“I told her that at one time I knew of a number that was something like 800LITTERS and that reporting to them resulted in a letter to the registered owner scolding them and warning of the dangers and legal ramifications.”

She tried that number and had no more success reporting what she had seen, she said.

“Is it really okay to throw out burning cigarettes from vehicles now? What if a fire did result? I was the only one with the responsible party’s information. FRUSTRATED!!!!!”

Ben asked, “How can I report an unsafe driver?  I have seen the same compact pickup travel at a high rate of speed (about 75 mph) on the shoulder lanes between Port Orchard and Gorst both mornings and evenings.  I have the tag number but not sure how to report it.”

The out basket: 9-1-1 is the proper place to call in either case, though Tracy got bad info from the call taker when she tried.

Maria Jameson-Owens, second in command at CenCom told me, “Our process is for call takers to enter details for all in-progress littering complaints. These should then be dispatched to local law enforcement. Callers should be offered the phone number for the Health Department when suspect information is available. Depending on the location of the event we sometimes transfer the caller to WSP for handling.

“If we were the agency to handle this event, it does not appear that we handled it per our policy. We will research internally.”

Handling littering complaints is one of the government functions that has take a beating from the financial shortfalls in state and local government. The State Department of Transportations phone number for them is no longer active.

Jan Brower of the Health District’s solid waste division says they will investigate complaints where there is some likelihood of identifying the dumper through information in what was dumped, but thrown out pop cans and cigarettes are the province of law enforcement.

Trooper Mark Hodgson of the WSP office here says there isn’t much likelihood of immediate contact with litterers or even aggressive drivers from such citizen reports. But they want to get the report so they can be on the lookout for the driver or the patrol the location, as with what Ben has seen. An officer may witness the offense being repeated.

Had there been a fire where Tracy saw the cigarette being thrown out, the report could have helped pinpoint blame.

Robert Calkins of the WSP in Olympia said they used to have a date base of aggressive driving complaints, but it’s no longer active.

He said citizens often report suspected drunken drivers, which do result in a response. In only 3 percent of the reports they receive do they find the driver still on the road, but about half of those they do find are, in fact, impaired, Robert said.

Deputy Scott Wilson of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office says calls to 9-1-1 about offenses on county roads are referred to them, and those on state highways are referred by CenCom to WSP dispatchers.


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