Blue Byline

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

Archives: 2013

Nov.
6th

Low casualties in LAX shooting highlight new police response

When a disturbed man pulled an assault rifle out of a bag in a crowded Los Angeles airport terminal and shot four people last Friday, it marked the 17th mass shooting just this year in the U.S. The phenomenon only seems to have increased in number since Newtown.

The recipe is the same. A suicidal man arms himself and takes out his rage on a surrogate, in this case the Transportation Security Administration. The violent spree left three people wounded and one man – Gerardo Hernandez, a TSA employee – dead.

But it could have been

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Oct.
31st

Cheating at the police academy a leadership failure

If mad computer skills are the coin of the realm in Silicon Valley, then what is the most important attribute for a professional law enforcement officer?

Defensive tactics? Legal knowledge? Communication skills? While these are all essential tools for a cop on the beat, the answer is far more basic.

The answer is integrity.

To prove the point, consider the performance of a police agency which fails to stress this trait. Department standards will be ignored. Crimes will be enforced haphazardly. Criminals will be more likely to run away or fight. Victims will stop calling. Juries will stop believing officers’ testimony.

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Oct.
25th

Ridiculous police lawsuits are a costly joke

Picture this: You’re driving through town when you see police lights in your rearview mirror. You ignore the cop and driver home, where you find your street blocked by police cars and at least one officer on foot. Instead of stopping, you attempt to drive through them, striking an officer with your car. In return, police open fire and you are struck, putting an end to your night.

Variations on this scenario are common, but this example was borrowed from a TNT story (10/21) involving a 34-year-old Tacoma man who was shot after allegedly driving his vehicle

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Oct.
20th

Catching dangerous criminals: fiction vs. reality

After a busy week, Hollywood knows that the last thing the average weekend moviegoer wants is a brain teaser. That’s why police thrillers usually pull the audience directly into the story, letting us ride shotgun with the bad guys as well as the cops.

The dialogue is spoonfed and the action slams us on the head in high definition and Dolby stereo. By the time the police finally roll up, the only question remaining is how quickly the cops will figure it all out.

That’s not how it works in real life, of course.

When an actual shooting occurs, real

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Oct.
12th

October the month to reflect on the toll of domestic violence

Back in the old days, when computers were bigger than cars, cops used a simple sheet of paper to jot down the details of a call for service. I saved a few old worksheets and occasionally pull one out to see what was happening on the street in, say, 1992.

Turns out the average workday twenty-plus years ago bears a striking resemblance to my last shift about a year ago, to include the inclusion of at least one domestic violence dispute per shift.

The continuing presence of domestic violence is disappointing, to say the least. Though mandatory arrest laws (passed

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Oct.
6th

D.C. shooting a no-win situation for police

Training scenario: An unmedicated, psychotic driver crashes through a protective barrier, hits and injures a police officer, smashes police cars during a chase at speeds up to 85 mph on densely populated streets,  and speeds off towards a potential terrorist target.

You have one second to react – what is your response?

By now you have recognized this scenario as the real-life incident that played out on the streets of our nation’s capitol last Thursday. On a dry mid-afternoon in Washington, D.C., Miriam Carey, a 34-year-old woman reported to be suffering from postpartum depression, inexplicably attempted to drive through a

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Sep.
28th

Forgotten paperwork and an unforgettable crime

What happened to Lawrence Howse was an unspeakable tragedy. In the confines of his enclosed parking garage, he was robbed at gunpoint, and when he refused to remove his pants for the amusement of his two assailants, he was executed in cold blood.

Updates on the investigation have been front page news since the murder last month. That includes the recent arrest of two men in connection with the killing, whose faces appeared on page one of Saturday’s TNT. This is not a sensational ploy to sell papers – the public deserves to know that the police department and prosecutor’s

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Sep.
23rd

Is America even interested in breaking the cycle of gun violence?

As Apple rolled out its new iPhone and Tacoma employees learned that flip-flops were not proper work attire (who knew?), gunshots and explosions took scores of lives in some of the world’s most violent places.

Africa: Alleged al-Shabab terrorists used explosives and gunfire to kill as many as 62 people in a Kenyan shopping mall on Saturday, an incident that has yet to conclude (TNT 9/23).

Iraq: News reports indicate 120 people were killed in several explosions in Baghdad last week (TNT 9/22) in the latest round of sectarian violence.

Pakistan: Two suicide

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