Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: law enforcement


Try again for DNA collection after arrest

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a Maryland DNA case should give new life to efforts that died last year in the Legislature.

Those efforts held promise for solving serious cold cases and for exonerating people who may have been wrongfully convicted of crimes.

As a House member in 2012, state Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma, sponsored a bill that would have required collection of DNA samples from persons arrested for major felonies and two gross misdemeanors (stalking and violating a protection order). State law already allows for DNA collection upon conviction or

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DNA-collection bill addresses civil-liberties concerns

State Rep. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

It took Richard Nixon to go to China, Bill Clinton to reform welfare and state Rep. Jeannie Darneille to push House Bill 2588.

That legislation, which passed out of the Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness Committee Tuesday, would require DNA samples to be collected from everyone booked for major felonies and two gross misdemeanors (stalking and violating a protection order).

Currently in this state, DNA samples are only taken upon conviction of major crimes. But in about half the other states, DNA is taken when a suspect is booked and then is entered into state and federal databases to see if it gets any matching “hits.” That system has led to solving numerous cold cases and even clearing the names of people wrongly convicted of crimes. Read more »


Police perjury taints criminal justice system

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

A slap on the wrist. With a feather.

That’s what two Pierce County sheriff’s deputies got Friday from the very criminal justice system they betrayed by testifying falsely under oath last year at a pretrial hearing last year.

Convicted of first-degree perjury in September, 48-year-old Rex McNicol and 36-year-old Jeff Montgomery will have to serve three weekends in jail – they can skip Christmas weekend – plus 79 days in home detention and 40 hours of community service.

Granted, McNicol and Montgomery were first-time offenders, and Superior Court Judge John Hickman’s lenient penalty was within the state’s sentencing guidelines.

But their prosecutor, assistant state attorney general Melanie Tratnik, pointed out that they were not common criminals, and their falsehoods were not common crimes. The sworn lies of police officers send ripples of damage through the legal system.

Most criminal cases stand or fall on the credibility of the police. Officers make judgments on probable cause, request search warrants, arrest suspects, gather evidence, write official reports and testify in court. The entire process assumes that the police are honest.
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Police privacy bill is empty promise

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Supporters of the so-called police privacy bill have apparently given up on offering any rationale for the legislation and are instead making a naked bid for a sympathy vote.

Prime sponsor Lynn Kessler, the Democratic majority leader in the House, told the Seattle Times that she is aware that the bill won’t actually offer police officers and their families additional protection. But she wants the Legislature to pass it anyway as a symbolic gesture that acknowledges the six recent cop killings in Western Washington.

An empty promise of greater security is no way to honor law enforcement. But that’s all Kessler and other supporters have left. Every other argument of theirs has fizzled.

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How one punk tracked down a sheriff’s deputy at home

Joshua Paul Yacovone was only in a little bit of trouble before he decided earlier this month to confront a Pierce County sheriff’s deputy at the deputy’s home. Now he’s in a whole heap of trouble, charged with third-degree assault and intimidating a public servant in a county that doesn’t take kindly to threats against law enforcement.

Yacovone, who had been cited by the deputy earlier in the day for underage drinking, is accused of tracking the deputy down, strutting into his driveway and accusing him of taking money. Not until the deputy pointed a rifle did Yacovone back

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Special records access for media? No thanks

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

A curious thing is happening in the state Legislature. It seems lawmakers believe they can pick off public disclosure supporters by granting some of them special privileges to information.

Twice now, legislators have answered concerns about denying access to public records by establishing a new class of citizens: members of the news media.

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Bad bill exploits officers’ deaths

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

State Rep. Lynn Kessler’s bill to seal information about people who work in the criminal justice system got absolutely nowhere last legislative session.

This year, it’s sailing through the House as lawmakers scramble to assist law enforcement in the wake of six cop killings.

The only problem: House Bill 1317 wouldn’t do anything to protect police officers from killers. It would, however, protect law enforcement agencies from public accountability.

The legislation is billed as a way to keep gangs and organized crime from compiling databases of law enforcement personnel. Even if that were happening – sponsors and supporters can’t cite any cases – HB 1317 would do nothing to prevent it.

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Coming Wednesday: Law enforcement disclosure bill, Lewis-McChord merger

Here’s what we’re working on for tomorrow:

A bill to exempt law enforcement officers’ birthdates and photos from public disclosure is gathering speed in the Legislature. It is an incongruous response to the shootings of six police officers that will only serve to weaken the public trust by eroding accountability.

The merger of McChord Air Force Base and Fort Lewis is part of a healthy national move to consolidate military installations and push inter-service cooperation.