Blue Byline

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

Category: My take


Happy St. Paddy’s Day – now go reserve a cab

March 17th in Ireland is little more than one more religious holiday in a country tethered to Catholic tradition. Forget the ads for “Best Irish Tavern” and “Legendary Pub Crawl.” On the Emerald Isle, Saint Patrick’s Day comes and goes with little fanfare. The only green you’ll find is the grass.

Obviously, that is not the case in the U.S. (or New Ireland, as the legion of my Irish and Irish-American cousins could legitimately name it), where tapping a keg, dancing a jig and kissing nearly anything green on St. Paddy’s Day approaches the level of a Celtic Mardi Gras.

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A cool equation: cup + camera = arrest

As a rookie cop, one of my favorite jobs was searching for clues at crime scenes. If an object bore even a hint of a fingerprint, I’d have it buried under a blanket of black powder before you could say, “That’s my new stereo!”

Despite my zeal, and the success of crime scene technicians both fictional and real, police officers are able to gather plenty of evidence without the need for high tech gizmos. One does not need an infrared camera or a DNA swab to decipher the information on items such as a receipt, a business card or the

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From drug texts to NSA: the privacy imbalance

When a Longview police detective seized the phone of a drug dealer in 2009 and conducted a warrantless search, the subsequent arrest sparked yet another legal battle over privacy rights in the digital age.

According to an AP story by Barbara LaBoe, the case against a man whom police lured into a drug arrest using the dealer’s phone was overturned by the State Supreme Court last Thursday. I admit to mixed feelings on this ruling.

When a search and seizure issue emerges during an investigation, obtaining a search warrant is a foolproof remedy. But police work, with its

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Ukraine’s struggles are intertwined with our own

The new millenium has seen a surge of revolutions. These include the terrorist-driven wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Georgian and Iranian uprisings (crushed by Russia and Iran respectively), and the long list of middle eastern countries whose positions of power changed hands in the so-called Arab Spring.

If things continue to devolve in Ukraine, the former Soviet state may soon follow (TNT 2/22).

Yet Ukraine’s story bears another look. Its present is not unlike our past – a fledgling nation continuing to struggle for independence from an oppressive colonial power – while its future may hold

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Governor’s blanket reprieve a debatable decision

Back in my teen years a friend brought over a VHS tape with the invitingly lurid title, “Faces of Death.” The video was a compilation of footage depicting the various and inhuman ways we humans kill one another. Being young and curious, we watched it.

Though images from that video still haunt me, the scene that cost me the most sleep was an execution. I can still picture the electric chair and the way the man’s limbs flex as the jolts from ol’ Sparky hit him. Drool spills from his mouth, every muscle spasms and blood seeps out beneath the

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Hoffman’s addiction alone is responsible for his death

“No words for this. He was too great and we’re too shattered.” — Director Mike Nichols.

The above quote is one of many describing the tragic death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the Academy Award-winning actor who died of an apparent heroin overdose last Sunday. The circumstances were a wake-up call for anyone who assumed the days of heroin were long gone.

In fact, this retro drug from the ’90s is not only back, but usage is increasing at an alarming rate. In addition to a four-fold increase in heroin seizures along our southern border,

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Federal conviction an argument for state control of pot

When the citizens of Washington voted to legalize marijuana, it was a mandate against the status quo – street deals, organized crime, money laundering. Even for those of us who don’t use cannabis, there is every reason to find new ways to control a drug which has led to so many violent altercations involving home grown operations.

That point is best illustrated in the story of one Jeremy Capodanno, a Puyallup area man recently convicted in federal court of unlawful manufacturing of narcotics and firearms violations (Adam Lynn, TNT 1/31).

Capodanno’s conviction on Friday arose from  a

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Driving drunk relinquishes the future to a roll of the dice

For anyone who requires further proof that life is not fair, consider the story of two young men, one 22 and the other 19. Both men were allegedly driving drunk at roughly twice the legal speed limit when everything went wrong. While their actions constitute similar crimes, their stories end very differently due to the immutable laws of physics and the chaotic nature of chance.

The 22-year-old’s name is Joshua Brake. Last June, Brake was rocketing along SR 507 near Roy, at a speed a witness estimated to be above 90 mph, when he lost control of his car and

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