Blue Byline

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

Tag: criminal justice system

May
25th

A college commencement speech you’ll never hear

If I were a snippy kind of guy, the fact that I didn’t receive a single invitation to deliver a college commencement address might irk me. But I’m not. Sniff.

Outside of a handful of web-surfing insomniacs I recognize that few people have heard of me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have something to contribute to the graduation zeitgist (whatever that is). This is the speech I might have given, if anyone had asked.

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Hey kids. Thanks for inviting me to speak at the commencement of the class of 2014. You guys look great in those caps and

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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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June
12th

Revolving door of justice is both illusion and reality

Justice, as it is sometimes said, can be a revolving door.

This frustrating aspect of police work materialized for me many years ago when, as a young officer, I responded to a large fight inside a tavern. The brawl was in full tilt when we arrived. Fists, chairs and bottles were flying. Bloody people were limping out the door, but the battle inside raged on. We waded in and, over several difficult minutes, regained control.

The hardest to stop was, of course, the instigator. He was a mean drunk, and it took several of us to hold him down long

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June
4th

Vigilante “justice” gets new definition in trial: homicide

(updated 9/20)

For the record, it didn’t have to be done.

The “it” I refer to are the vigilante killings of two sex offenders, Gary Blanton and Jerry Ray, carried out by one Patrick Drum. The two shootings on the Olympic Peninsula, which occurred on June 2 and June 3 of this year (Trib 6/4), were the result of Drum’s violent frame of mind and his decision that, “it had to be done.”

If that is true, then we have truly made no progress as a civilized society since, well…at least the twelfth century, when Henry

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Jan.
29th

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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Jan.
26th

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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Jan.
12th

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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