Blue Byline

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

Archives: May 2012


AG’s stance on human trafficking is spot on

On a warm evening a few weeks ago my partner and I were sitting in an unmarked car along Highway 99 near Seatac. From our vantage point we watched several young women walking the sidewalk, waving at passing cars and occasionally hopping in next to a male driver.

By all accounts, the sex trade on Highway 99 continues in much the same way since the Green River Killer stalked the strip’s most vulnerable prostitutes 25 years ago. With one exception.

Milling around the entrance to a fast food restaurant across the street were more than a dozen young men wearing

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30 years of cop stories

Unlike many of my colleagues, I didn’t always want to be a police officer. Despite being raised in an Irish family in San Francisco, a town where a large portion of police officers also sported an “O-apostrophe” in their surnames, I fought the stereotype.

Back in those days the City, as the natives refer to it, was filled with sensational crime. Patty Hearst robbed the bank down the street, some lunatic was beheading joggers in Golden Gate Park and the Black Panthers were having regular gun battles with the police.

These disturbing events were, however, outside the bubble of a

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Punishment was, is and always will be an issue

Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s masterpiece, “Crime and Punishment” is the story of Raskolnikov, a man who contemplates then commits a violent crime. His inner turmoil severes him from society, and his struggle to reconnect is a theme as relevant  today as it was in 18th century Russia.

Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald (Trib 5/10) and Katie Baird, a UWT professor (Trib 5/9) introduce us to their own versions of Raskolnikov: Pitts’ subject is a cynical inmate wondering how society is going to help him, while Baird’s is a reformed felon working and going to

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Renewing the memory of fallen officers

When you first met Jim Lewis you were likely to notice his prominent, Roman nose. It gave his face character in contrast to his calm and easy-going nature. Jim’s casual confidence was of great value when he worked the streets of Tacoma as a patrol officer and field training instructor, as a member of the department’s search and rescue team, and, in his last assignment, as a motorcycle traffic officer.

On April 27, 2004, Jim Lewis was speeding down a Tacoma street with his lights and sirens activated when a motorist pulled out in front of him. Jim died in

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Teenage “hijinks” a poor description for bullying assault

Many of us have childhood memories of being singled out for the age-old crime of being different than the crowd. Fewer have experienced a traumatic incident as one alleged to have occurred to a high school student named John Lauber almost five decades ago. Some of the bullies recently “outed” their role in the event to The Washington Post (5/11), which included a known public figure.

The details are both troubling and cliche. In 1965 at Cranbrook School, an upscale Michigan prep, John Lauber was a transfer student whose effeminate habits made him “easy pickins’”

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Happy Mother’s Day

I was checking the reader comments a few days ago when I came across one that was such a positive, sweet-filled bit of praise that for a moment I felt buoyant. It was a feeling not unlike the constant sense of lift one gets – or at least should get – from the loving presence of a mother.

Then I saw who wrote this particular comment. It was my mom.

On this glorious and sun-filled Mother’s Day, I am foregoing the period of hours I usually spend hatching another blog. Instead, like most people fortunate enough to have a wonderful mother

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Crime and punishment in the new millenium

It all started with the pink underwear.

As the world leader in incarceration, by percentage and expense, America knew something was up when Joe Arpaio, the self-anointed “Toughest Sheriff in America,” introduced the country to his inmates’ pinkish undergarments. That was years ago. Since then Sheriff Arpaio’s crusade to make his jail a self-described “concentration camp” has had its ups and downs.

Whether the discussion includes Sheriff Joe or not, incarceration itself is a controversial topic. Is it punishment or rehabilitation? Should doing time guarantee an inmates’ right to lift weights, watch TV and read Playboy or instead be a

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Steven Powell’s 15 minutes of infamy winding down

In the last year or more it seems that every time we reach the end of the Powell murder mystery, another chapter is written. The latest installment is the disturbing trial of Susan Powell’s uber-creepy father-in-law, Steven Powell.

Detectives investigating Susan Powell’s disappearance served a search warrant on Steven Powell’s home last August. The warrant affidavit would likely have requested a broad scope for the search, and in the case of homicide – okay, disappearance – search and seizure case law can and should allow greater latitude than lesser crimes. The stakes are higher and the evidence could be anywhere.


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