Blue Byline

A cop's perspective of the news and South Sound matters

Archives: 2011


2011 a great year for crime stats, with one ugly exception

Closing out a year would not be complete without the traditional avalanche of news articles that attempt to wrap up our collective yearly experiences into a nifty little gift bag. Sucker that I am for tradition, I spent much of the waning hours of 2011 reflecting on the trends and stats of our most recent spin around the sun.

And I found a paradox.

An insightful column in the Trib, written by the Washington Post’s Charles Lane, highlights the national crime rate’s plunge over the last 20 years. I appreciated his nod to this phenomenon, both for the rare bit

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‘Tis the season for domestic violence

We may be rushing into the season of happiness and good cheer, but underneath that veneer lies a seasonal undercurrent of stress. In addition to the halting job market, people everywhere are also trying to fill stockings while continuing to pay for heat and rent. The cold weather and diminished daylight also forces people inside where they fight colds, germs and more often each other.

This seasonal trend became evident after just a couple of years as a police officer. Crime statistics, which are typically calculated over a period of years, also vary depending upon obvious elements, such as weather

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The legalization discussion across the border

When I walk through the streets of Vancouver, B.C., where the skyscrapers are more numerous, the waterfront more inviting and the mountains appear to rise right above me, it is easy to imagine that I am wandering the landscape of an amped up, Super-Tacoma. Then I’ll have a chat with one of my brethren in Canadian law enforcement and realize that, despite the visual similarities (mountains, water, umm… marijuana), our American society holds several distinctions from that which exists in the Great White North.

Starting with the cops. Canadian police, I have observed, have less oversight

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Virginia Tech continues to teach us human nature

Almost three thousand miles separates us from recent events at Virginia Tech, yet the irony is as palpable as the chill in the air.

Within minutes of a fatal shooting on this cursed campus last Thursday, officials sounded a school alarm and inundated students’ cell phones with texted news and updates.

The nature of the event itself was painfully reminiscent: A lone subject approaches a police officer, shoots him and then runs away. For those of us living in the Puget Sound area, it is a reminder of the six police officers slain in a similar unprovoked fashion between October,

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Police and fire cuts highlight city’s fiscal irresponsibility

If you are a vile Grinch (or perhaps Tim Eyman) then the Tacoma municipal budget may be giving you everything you want this Christmas, such as:

No more fire stations for Proctor and the Tide Flats. Don’t worry, everything there was either old or flammable anyway.

No more school resource officers. No problem – just hang a few “No bullying” signs.

No more fire boats. Heck, if the fire’s on the water then it’s not really a problem (let’s just overlook all the chemicals and HAZMAT at the port, though).

No more gang unit. Well, they’ll just have to behave

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WestNET story is compelling but lacking in context

After reading Sean Robinson’s exhaustive article on WestNET, the Kitsap-county based Narcotics Enforcement Team, one might conclude that the Keystone Cops are alive and well on the Peninsula. I don’t buy it.

The WestNET task force does seem to have an imposing range of issues, including a controversial former investigator now facing federal gun-trafficking charges, a comparatively low conviction rate, and a chorus of critics from legal circles. Despite this valid concern, this article’s broad assessment of a small group of cops misses the mark.

As usual, Robinson’s Trib article is well researched and precisely written. He

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Pitts’ video rant requires a rethink

As much as I admire him, my relationship with Leonard Pitts is…complex.

Pitts, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist whose syndicated column appears regularly in the Trib, is a master of the short essay and a champion of many righteous causes.

That doesn’t mean I agree with everything he writes, of course. Our relationship–if you call forking over money to hear him speak at UPS a relationship–has more to do with craft and less to do with ideology.

In last Sunday’s column (11/27), Pitts denounced the infamous police pepper-spraying incident at UC Davis. Others, including myself, have likewise nibbled at

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Putting a purple perspective on global events

After a quick scan of the paper over the last week there can be only one conclusion – we live in amazing times.

If you’re into extreme theoretical physics (or just a follower of “The Big Bang Theory”) then you would have been struck by news out of CERN, a world reknown physics lab in Switzerland. This uber geek think tank has taken on the arrogant and daunting challenge of disproving Einstein’s theory that the speed of light is our universal and absolute speed limit. After blasting their neutrinos from Geneva to Italy, physicists are almost

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