Blue Byline

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

Archives: Jan. 2012


Balancing ethics and the death penalty

This is the third in a three part series on balancing civil liberties and public safety

In 2010 Cal Coburn Brown died at the hands of an executioner. More to the point, Brown was executed by the people of Washington State. Us.

Whether we agree with the use of capital punishment or not, there is no denying that the mere mention of the term is unsettling. Images such as the firing squad, the gallows and the electric chair are stark reminders of the moral implications of taking a human life. Though capital punishment is intrinsic to our society, the ethical

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DNA: confusing identification with punishment

This is the second in a three part series on balancing civil liberties and public safety.

Deoxyribonucleic acid, aka DNA, contains the genetic instructions used in the development and function of all living organisms (at least according to Wikipedia). The unique strands that make up each one of us as individuals is a dramatic peek into the fabric of our individual selves. For all intents and purposes, we are defined by our DNA.

The realm of law enforcement has been capitalizing on this discovery for several years, making DNA identification the cutting edge of police forensic science. DNA is now routinely

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When the price of leniency is innocent blood

First in a three part series on balancing civil rights and public safety.

Nine years ago a serial rapist by the name of Curtis Thompson was released from prison after serving a seventeen year sentence. With the aid of a defense expert, who testified that Thompson’s violent history was insufficient to label him a sexual sadist, Thompson was given unprecedented leniency. Bypassing the routine civil commitment and incarceration meted out to sexual predators, Thompson was released back into the community.

Of course, that’s where the story gets even worse.

Thompson moved back home to his mother’s house in Northgate and

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The blowback of self-promotion

I was watching my ‘49ers fumble away their playoff hopes when my nacho-soaked brain made a strange connection. It was the moment when, following the second of two glorious touchdown catches, tight end Vernon Davis jumped on a podium, posed for the adoration of his fans, and promptly earned his team a penalty.

This banal example of self-promotion reminded me of an AP article in Sunday’s Trib. It was a report on yet another disturbing trend: people posting videos of their criminal acts on social networks and sites such as Youtube.

I’ll admit

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Let it (not) snow

This column was written several days ago, but publication was held up due to the loss of Internet connection. The irony was not lost on me…

When my kids and I disagree on an issue, it usually can be explained by the gender gap. I prefer Van Halen to Kanye West; they prefer their pants to hang low, while I prefer the waist line of my pants to reside at, well, my waist. Usually, though, we find room for compromise.

But there is one item that will forever separate my kids’ views from my own. Snow.

When the word came down

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Some facts to consider in the marijuana legalization discussion


Several times over the last few months I have written columns on the controversial topic of marijuana. There’s been a lot to discuss. Legalization. Medical marijuana permits. Enforcement. I-502.

I based much of the writing on both my experiences as a police officer enforcing drug statutes as well as a few recent Trib articles. These stories ranged from status updates on marijuana legislation, a review of both Tacoma and Seattle’s stance on marijuana enforcement, and the results of an investigative piece wherein a reporter successfully applied for a medical marijuana permit.

The comments I

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Clemency is a slap in the face of justice

Mercy is a noble sentiment and a reflection of our American principles. In the legal realm the concept of clemency is a practice that predated our colonies and was a power utilized by heads of state and royal appointees. These government pardons could either correct the errors of corrupt courts or (for profit) corrupt the results of righteous courts. Somehow, the practice of clemency has lasted until the present day when the governors of some 40 of our 50 states wield the power of the pardon.

That authority was recently exercised by Haley Barbour, the former governor of Mississippi, when

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Meth capital or not, we still seem to like it

Does anybody remember when Pierce County was the center of the methamphetamine universe?

Almost twenty years ago our humble county was the capital of meth production and the tweaker nation. Back then, stumbling across a meth lab was almost a daily occurrence. The locations also varied, from houses, apartments, mobile homes, trailers, rental spaces or the trunks of cars. Regardless of the place, the smell was always the same – a mix of kitty litter and fuel oil – and it usually preceded the first sighting of a test tube or glass beaker.

Given the volatility of the chemicals found in meth

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