Blue Byline

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

Archives: June 2011


Spending the anti-gang dollar: cops or programs?

Away from his colors, his homies, and his neighborhood, the gang-banger in the backseat of my patrol car was pleasant enough. He talked quietly, then leaned forward to take the weight off his handcuffs and just watched the clouds roll by.

Despite that, you could tell he was nervous. Having just turned eighteen, he was anticipating the criminal element’s version of the manhood ritual, adult jail, and his anxiety was easily understood.

So I spared the kid–I mean adult–the usual lecture. After all, he was a veteran of drive-by shootings, both as (alleged) triggerman and victim, had the blessings of the gang’s shot-caller, and walked the streets with a swagger that, if I were to replicate it, would likely pull several muscles. For all of that, he was just beginning to realize that his increased speed on the road to being a badass would only make the final stop come more rapidly and explosively.

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Hot and sweaty or fast and cool

In a letter to the editor (6-9), Mr. Lawrence Smith of U.P. vented his frustration at police officers for, among other complaints, our move towards military-style uniforms. His letter drew several online responses both for and against his viewpoint.

This may seem like a small matter in a world that is daily filled with momentous events, but it actually reminded me of a quote from one of the most famous protagonists in American literature, Atticus Finch.

In case you’ve forgotten, Finch was the stoic and principled lawyer in Harper Lee’s classic, “To Kill A Mockingbird”, in which he told his daughter, Scout,”You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

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Miami shooting has errors on both sides of the police tape

Like most work environments, law enforcement has its share of recurring circumstances. And like other careers, most veterans develop a sense of “how things should go.” I suppose that’s called experience. 

That’s what came to mind as I watched the video of a Memorial Day Weekend shooting during a raucous night in Miami Beach. If you failed to see the footage, aired on National News, it went as follows:A car runs a stop sign and officers attempt to pull it over; the driver strikes one officer with his car, nearly hits four others and continues driving erratically. When the vehicle stops, police surround the vehicle and shots are fired. The driver dies.

The focus of the national coverage was clearly the police actions, both the fact that numerous officers had surrounded the car and simultaneously unloaded a barrage from less than 20 feet away and that angry officers had taken away cell phones. Okay, I get that. Those questions deserve answering.

But what does it say about the media when the reporter seems to gloss over the fact that the driver, Raymond Herisse, had just ran over a cop, almost hit four others, and had a gun in the car? I believe I mentioned the lack of trust between cops and reporters in a previous column–this is a prime example.

Based on my experience, I think much of the actions of the cops speaks for itself.

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McKenna: A candidate for all seasons

About a year ago I trudged into yet another of the countless meetings it seems I attend. This one, the Public Policy Committee for the Tacoma-Pierce YWCA, promised a speaker whose reputation as a champion for victims of domestic violence was well known at every level of the YWCA.

The speaker was polished and passionate. He spoke without notes and with a depth of knowledge that was surprising given the broad spectrum of his job description. He answered questions in a personable and articulate fashion, and in short, he impressed the heck out of everyone in the room.

All of this was accomplished despite the fact that the speaker, Attorney General Rob McKenna, was a Republican addressing a group comprised mostly of females (and a stray cop or two) in an organization most would consider to have a slight tilt to the left. This would also be that same Attorney General McKenna who just yesterday announced his intention to run (article) for Governor of our state.

Now I have a new definition for “good meeting.”

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Presidential run as prime time entertainment

At some point in our country’s recent history, our starched presidential campaign has taken the form of a reality TV show. This has opened the door for some interesting new characters for “Oval Office: Season 2012,” which is already a ratings winner.

The first Blue Carpet poseur of 2012 was none other than the Donald. Trump and his running mate (the Combover) captured the attention of more than a few in the Republican base. His heavily vetted buzzwords echoed loudly in the dry GOP valley once home to herds of viable candidates. But once the Ego was mollified, Trump delivered a succinct fare-thee-well and walked, or rather swaggered, back to his successful “Apprentice” show with a ratings boost only an amoral man of commerce could enjoy.

Now we have Palin. Or maybe she has us.

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Police and the media shouldn’t be Us vs.Them

Friday’s Trib (6-3) contained a letter to the editor in defense of Tacoma Police Chief Don Ramsdell. I knew the author, Mike Hanagan, as an articulate and outspoken officer and co-worker in the ’90s, before he earned his law degree and moved into a new career. At the risk of re-stirring the pot, his remarks about the controversial events surrounding Zina Linnik’s homicide raise a corollary topic worthy of discussion.

To paraphrase, Mike states that the information withheld from the public–the delay in initiating an Amber Alert already mentioned ad nauseum–was never for public consumption. He argues that internal police issues are best handled outside the public forum, a rationale consistent with Chief Ramsdell’s actions following the July 2007 incident.

Maybe he’s right, but this is not about handling internal issues. Rather, it is about a department’s choice of the substance and amount of truth it willingly discloses to the public.

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Remedy for Northwest’s sports curse is close at hand

The coolest sport in the world, both literally and figuratively, is currently being played at the highest possible level a mere three hours from here. Not only are the Stanley Cup finals underway, but the Vancouver Canucks—the closest thing to a true winning sports team around here since the ’05 Seahawks—are playing spectacular hockey.

If only somebody around here cared.