Blue Byline

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

Archives: May 2011

May
30th

Medical marijuana legislation is dazed and confused

“Congress should definitely consider decriminalizing possession of marijuana….We should concentrate on prosecuting the rapists and burglars who are a menace to society.” -U.S. Representative Dan Quayle, March 1977

If you are old enough to recall some of Dan Quayle’s head-scratching remarks (such as “For NASA, space is still a high priority”) the above comment might explain a lot. What it fails to explain is the rigid stance against marijuana by federal politicians both then and now.

The fact is that some form of every hard core drug from heroin to cocaine to methamphetamine is available by prescription at your local pharmacy. Though possession of even trace amounts of these controlled substances amounts to a felony crime, a small amount of marijuana equates to a simple misdemeanor. Whether we accept that marijuana is the smoking version of alcohol or a narcotic that should remain on the list of controlled substances, overwhelming evidence suggests it also has a part to play as a prescribed drug.

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May
30th

Memorial Day is vital for our country’s conscience

Much has been written on the disconnect between mainstream America and the active duty military personnel who have been waging a two-front war for almost ten years. The growing indifference of the former and the continued sacrifices of the latter requires bearing in mind, especially on this Memorial Day.

In a few short months we will be celebrating, or rather mourning, the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack that sparked our nation’s most recent conflicts. Professional soldiers, sailors and airmen have spent the intervening years in an almost constant state of deployment. As a result one more generation in

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May
28th

Lance just another hero knocked off the pedestal

If ignorance is bliss then the “60 Minutes” film studio must be the least blissful place on Earth.

Over the the last 44 years the iconic news show has uncovered more dirt than John Deere’s tractors, but in so doing it has scratched the luster of many well-known and respected individuals. Greg Mortenson recently got the treatment. He’s the author of “Three Cups of Tea” and the founder of the now-famous nonprofit that built girls schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Or maybe he didn’t, according to the show.

That was hard enough to take, but last week’s show was a shot across the bow for many of us who dared to believe in miracles. That particular show targeted Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor, seven-time winner of the Tour de France, philanthropist, founder of the Livestrong cancer foundation, toast of Texas and inspiration to legions of fans worldwide. Me included.

What years of hearsay, scores of French journalists, and thousands of tests failed to prove–that Lance Armstrong used outlawed performance enhancement drugs and blood-doping to cheat in his sport–seemed a bitter fact at the conclusion of this incisive yet cursed episode. Tyler Hamilton’s first hand account, following a grand jury subpoena, had the solid ring of truth.

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May
25th

A question of rights

The 2nd Amendment, the right to bear arms, was the topic of a fractious discussion in a previous blog. However, the comments were so passionate and thoughtful, especially regarding the open carry of firearms, that I considered it worth revisiting.

But first some background on the issue. The federal government allows for the open carry of a firearm, at least the way the Constitution is currently interpreted, meaning a person can carry a weapon visible to the public. On the state level, Washington and many other states allow individuals without a felony conviction to apply for a concealed weapons permit. These permit carriers blend into society in a way that allows them to exercise their rights, while not alarming someone who might be anxious at the sight of a gun on someone’s belt.

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May
24th

Finding common ground on immigration

In a perfect world, immigrating to the United States would be a painlessly short process for those who lawfully chose to add their names to the spreadsheet of our country. In reality, the current sloppy legal mess in which we all find ourselves is the rough equivalent of a slog through a muddy stream, which, now that I think about it, looks just like the Rio Grande.

The debate on immigration started when Native Americans decided that the Pilgrims were getting a little too comfortable, gained steam when the Chinese and Irish dared to build us a better railroad, and

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May
21st

Warrantless searches are no easier, no matter what you read

“Where’s your search warrant!”

Over the years I have heard some version of this statement countless times, usually in situations with the potential for violence. Since we live in a free country where a person’s “home is his castle,” I usually assume that the resident won’t be happy to see a uniformed police officer crossing his threshold without a warrant. But let’s face it, bad things can happen inside a home, which is why the 4th Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure is so often the topic of criminal case precedents such as the one described in a recent Washington Post article reprinted in The Trib.

The only problem is that the article is incorrect.

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May
18th

A Tombstone state of mind

“Arizona really was a gas…mind-blowing all the way, you know, just out of sight.”  Scorpions (1982)

After riding motorcycles in Arizona last week, I returned a couple days ago with a new facial tone (burnt red), miles of motorcycle riding etched into my vertebrae and a bar tab that makes me wonder if my buddies were squatting on my credit card.

Now that I’m home I realize that my trip to the desert gave me more than just sunburn and a hangover. It gave me a broader perspective. Normally that’s an unlikely accomplishment after only a couple hours in the air and four days on the ground, but the Grand Canyon State is unique. Amidst the red peaks and baked desert, Arizona is nothing less than a windblown and broiled version of the wild, wild west.

As I cruised the highways, the burnt wind pulling vapor out of my body without the usual method of sweating, I began to notice the guns. As a cop I consider myself more attuned to the presence of firearms than the average person, but one would have to be extremely dense to miss the ubiquitous presence of individuals who were openly expressing their 2nd Amendment Rights. Wandering around town I scanned the belts of random people and found many whose cell phones on one side were balanced by sidearms on the other. It was just so natural and casual that it didn’t seem to bother anybody except me.

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May
16th

Arizona from the saddle of a Harley

“I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name; it felt good to be out of the rain.”  -America (1972)

I’ve been out of town a few days. Beyond a few shifts at work, some blogging, and rain that apparently reached biblical proportions, I don’t think I missed much here in Western Washington. In exchange I was extremely lucky to experience Arizona. It was a paradox of discomfort and adrenalin rush, desolation and breathtaking scenery, dangerous riding and freedom beyond compare.

Along with seven buddies, I flew into Phoenix, rented a Harley and rode a big loop through the Grand Canyon State. We went south to the border and the historic mining town of Bisbee, north through the Devil’s Highway and its 400 switchbacks topping out at 9000 feet, and then back south through the red rocks of Sedona. We managed to see everything but the big canyon itself.

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