Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Public Safety’ Category

84 percent of King County animal fines in 2012 uncollected

by Matt Rosenberg August 2nd, 2012

More than four out of every five dollars owed to King County for violations of animal control regulations in the first six months of this year have yet to be collected, according to a violations summary report from the county’s animal control division, Regional Animal Services of King County. The report was forwarded to the King County Council as an informational item last week by King County Executive Dow Constantine. It says that from January 2nd of this year through June 30th, 375 violations covering 1,029 offenses were issued outside of Seattle in King County, mainly by county animal control officers in the field. The total value of fines issued was $158,640 but only $25,315, or 16 percent, is reported as having been collected. Total violations outstanding carry a cash value of $133,325.

Perp’s appeal fails, in Capitol Hill hate crime at LGBT club

by Matt Rosenberg July 24th, 2012

A ruling from a Washington State appeals court Monday upheld the conviction of a Seattle man for other charges related to an anti-gay hate crime for which he was also convicted, near a Capitol Hill LGBT nightclub. Muhamet M. Sumaj was convicted in 2011 of felony and malicious harassment of a female-to-male transsexual named A.M. and felony harassment of a security guard named Donald Tidd after Sumaj conveyed racially and sexually-tinged verbal abuse and death threats outside Neighbours, a club popular with LGBT patrons. King County prosecutors noted at the time that malicious harassment is the legal term used in the state’s “hate crime” law. Sumaj was sentenced by King County Judge Steven C. Gonzales in February 2011 to six months of Work Education Release, on a King County work crew. Sumaj’s attorney in early October 2011 filed an appeal with the state seeking to overturn the felony harassment convictions, arguing prosecutors failed to properly spell out in their case that he had made a “true threat,” and also asserting there wasn’t enough evidence to convict Sumaj on the second one, involving Tidd. King County filed a response and after deliberation Sumaj’s appeal was rejected July 23 by the Washington State Court of Appeals Division One.

King County jail revenues seen falling at least $10M short

by Matt Rosenberg July 10th, 2012

A shortage of prisoners and a decline in paid services provided to them will blow a hole of at least $10 million this year in the budgeted revenue projections of the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention. Revenues collected by the department in 2012 for housing and servicing detainees from contracting cities and the state Department of Corrections could decline even more than that because of further reductions in jail-eligible populations by DOC, according to a June 28 letter from County Executive Dow Constantine to the county council.

WA vehicle collisions and fatalities drop notably, ‘02 to ‘10

by Henry Apfel July 1st, 2012

Data from the Washington State Department of Transportation show that over the past decade there’s been a significant downwards trend in The Evergreen State’s total vehicle collisions and fatalities, even with an uptick in vehicle miles travelled. Additionally, the number of accidents per 100 million miles travelled has dropped sharply, as has the death rate. From 2002 to 2010, vehicle miles traveled increased by four percent – less than a fifth of a percent higher than nationally over the same time – while the number of collisions dropped 10.5 percent. Collisions per 100 million miles traveled declined 19.3 percent. There were 43.4 percent fewer driver fatalities in Washington state in 2010 compared to 2002, and given the increase in miles traveled, driver fatalities per 100 million miles in Washington state decreased 53.5 percent from 2002 to 2010. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data show that his contrasts with a drop in the comparable U.S.-wide rate over the same stretch of 26.5 percent.

We’ve created an original visualization of the data below using the free Tableau Public tool from Seattle-based Tableau Software. We also get an analysis of the data trends from a University of Washington transportation expert.

Data visualization instructions: a) Start with the “Collision and Fatality Trends” tab view, to see color-coded data key. b) Run your mouse along lines to see individual points of data. c) You may also select different tabs for other representations of the information.

(Note: The original data included a category called “Miscellaneous Roadways” that was omitted for the purposes of this article. Consequently, total values are slightly different from the original data. Source: Washington State Department of Transportation Table TT03 on Road Usage and Safety, found in The State of Washington 2011 Databook, January 2012, Office of Financial Management)

A range of factors likely explain the decline in vehicle fatalities and accidents in Washington State, although their relative importance is difficult to determine, said Professor Mark Hallenbeck, Director of the Washington State Transportation Center at the University of Washington. One “has been a big push by USDOT (and consequently the state DOTs) to reduce the number of road fatalities,” he said. Hallenback also cited growing safety improvements to vehicles, “click-it or ticket” programs which enforce the use of seatbelts, and graduated driver licensing laws that allow young drivers to gain experience in a safe environment prior to being fully licensed. He added that many roads have had safety improvements, such as the addition of median barriers where there were none previously.

Public Data Ferret’s Data Visualization+Washington State archive

Other factors figure in, as well. Use of digital devices while driving is a known risk factor but hard to quantify. One study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute suggested that dialing a hand-held wireless device increased the risk of a crash or near-crash by almost three times.

Related: Q&A with Professor Mark Hallenbeck, Director, Washington State Transportation Center, University of Washington


Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the Seattle-based 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.

U.S. wildfire risk zones and current incidents: mapped

by Matt Rosenberg June 26th, 2012

Washington state isn’t currently included in the areas predicted to be at greatest risk for wildfires this summer, according to The National Wildland Significant Fire Potential Outlook for July through September that is updated monthly online by the National Interagency Coordination Center (NICC) in Boise, Idaho. But ten other states are, all in the western U.S. The current report includes a map showing where the greatest risk of significant wildland fires exists this summer, shown below.

From National Wildland Significant Fire Potential Outlook, National Interagency Coordination Center, June, 2012

Significant wildland fire potential is highest in southeast Oregon, southwest Idaho, northern Nevada, coastal southwest California, a large swath of Arizona, western New Mexico, western Colorado, eastern Utah, southwestern Wyoming, and the northwest portion of the island of Hawaii. The NICC defines “significant fire potential” as the likelihood that a wildland fire will develop and will require firefighting personnel and resources from outside the immediate area.

A map of current active large wildfires is provided online and updated daily by the U.S. Forest Service. (HatTip to reader Clyde Phillips, of Caldwell, Idaho). Users can click on map points for detailed information on any fire shown. Today, the map shows 38 large wildland fie incidents.

The NICC report also includes a map issued last week showing where U.S. drought conditions are expected to persist or intensify, and where they’re projected to improve. A portion of Washington state falls into the first category. The map is shown below.

From National Wildland Significant Fire Potential Outlook, National Interagency Coordination Center, June 21, 2012

A summer climate outlook map from the office of the Washington State Climatologist shows the projected likelihood of temperatures rising above historical norms in dozens of different locales.


Editor’s note: The National Interagency Coordination Center is made up of the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the National Association of State Foresters.


Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the Seattle-based 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.

Non-violent crime in Washington state: the data say it pays

by Matt Rosenberg April 18th, 2012

Nine years of Washington figures released recently in the Office of Financial Management’s wide-ranging state Data Book show that with the exception of murder and assault, the odds are long here that criminals will even be arrested, much less convicted. The data suggest that close to nine of ten burglars go scot-free in Washington state, as do more than 19 of 20 car thieves, and more than four of five who commit other thefts. For violent crimes, arrests are more frequent but not always the norm. More than two of three robbers get away with it, as, disturbingly, have more than two of three – and more recently, three of four – reported rapists. For assault, the odds of arrest are almost one in two; and for murder, lately all but certain.

WA: one in five social programs checked don’t pencil out

by Matt Rosenberg April 17th, 2012

A new report from the Washington legislature’s non-partisan policy analysis unit, the Washington State Institute For Public Policy, finds that of 98 programs recently reviewed for what researchers liken to an investment advisor’s “buy-sell” list, 79 pass muster financially, with measured per-participant financial benefits to the state which exceed costs; but 19 do not. Another 45 which are identified, haven’t been recently evaluated for cost effectiveness, the report says. Of the new results in the April 2012 report – titled “Return On Investment: Evidence-Based Options to Improve Statewide Outcomes” – the so-called “net present value” (benefits to the state per participant minus costs) was highest for a series of juvenile justice and adult criminal justice programs, and lowest for a sub-group of child and teen prevention and preK-12 education programs including Early Head Start and Even Start.

For 5th drunk driving offense in 10 years, Maple Valley man faces felony DUI sentencing by King County judge

by Matt Rosenberg February 28th, 2012

Kenneth Wayne Sandholm, 55, of Maple Valley is scheduled to be sentenced this coming Friday by King County Superior Court Judge Michael Heavey for up to five years in prison on a felony conviction earlier this month for Driving Under the Influence. Sandholm was convicted February 13th, for his fifth DUI offense committed within 10 years – making the most recent one a felony under state law. The circumstances of his arrest are detailed in the probable cause statement and the statement of charges.

Crossing the lines on State Route 18
According to these documents from the case file, Sandholm had four prior (misdemeanor) DUI convictions between 2000 and 2008; in Pierce County Court in 2000, 2005 and 2008; and in Tacoma Municipal Court in 2007. Each of those DUI convictions was accompanied by a conviction for driving with license suspended. On October 29, 2009 Sandholm was observed by a Washington State Patrol trooper driving east on State Route 18 just west of State Route 516 in his blue 1987 Mazda pickup and having major difficulties staying in his lane. The trooper reported that Sandholm at one point lurched from one eastbound lane into another by half a vehicle width, then after correcting, straddled the two lanes again, this time for 10 car lengths. Both before and after this, Sandholm’s vehicle went across the line dividing one lane with the road’s shoulder. The trooper stooped Sandholm, who according to the trooper’s report, had watery, bloodshot eyes and smelled of alcohol.