Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Public Safety’ Category

Auburn’s red-light, speeding cameras awash in more red ink

by Matt Rosenberg January 22nd, 2012

The chairman of the City of Auburn’s Municipal Services Committee, Bill Peloza, says he’ll be asking some questions about the future of the town’s traffic safety automated camera enforcement program called PhotoSafe when the panel meets Monday night. The committee’s agenda includes a review and discussion of a new report showing PhotoSafe’s mounting red ink and suggesting beneficial changes in driver behavior that may have resulted from the installation of the cameras is leveling off.

Anti-Jewish hate crime probed at University of Washington

by Matt Rosenberg January 20th, 2012

Campus police at the University of Washington in Seattle say they are investigating “as a hate crime” the drawing of a swastika and the word “Jew” on the the door of a Jewish student who lives in the residential facility Haggett Hall. In a written response to an information request by Public Data Ferret, University of Washington Police Department Commander Steve Rittereiser stated the incident is believed to have occurred January 8th and the victim is a 19-year-old Jewish male who resides on Haggett’s third floor. Sometime between 9 a.m. and 8:25 p.m. on the 8th, Ritteresier said, a “Nazi-type swastika” and the word “Jew” were written apparently by the same instrument on a door tag or eight-by-eleven-and-a-half inch piece of construction paper common to many other rooms in the dorm, bearing the first name of the chamber’s residents.

According to UW Police, the student said he had not been involved in any disputes or other activites which would have prompted the graffiti. Rittereiser stated,”‘this is being investigated as a hate crime due to the connection of the symbolism and the victim’s religious affiliation.” He added that UW Police detectives “are looking to see if there are similar incidents that may have happened and may not have been reported.” Haggett personnel are assisting with the investigation. No suspects have yet been identified. Haggett’s Resident Director Marissa Adamczyk responded to a reporter’s requests for an interview Friday afternoon with an email that she would not be available to talk until next Tuesday and has so far declined to reply to a follow-up email request to discuss the incident sooner.

If a suspect were to be identified and probable cause determined by campus police, then the case would be turned over to the King County Prosecutor’s office for further review and possible prosecution. Under Washington state law defacing with a swastika the property of an individual who is or is perceived to be Jewish is one way in which the Class C felony of malicious harassment can be committed. According to state statutes, Class C felonies upon conviction can be punished by up to five years in jail or a $10,000 fine, or both.

Haggett Hall is located at 4290 Whitman Court NE. Haggett’s third floor An adjoining but separate portion of Haggett’s third floor is a themed “International Community” which according to its UW Web page aims “to offer an enhanced living learning environment with an international focus. This community may be of particular interest to international students, students with experience or interest in studying abroad, and students interested in world issues.”

According to the constitution of the Haggett People’s Council, which is the governing body of the residence hall and its liaison to UW-Seattle’s student government, “we are dedicated to fostering an inclusive environment for students of all racial, ethnic, cultural, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic, and religious backgrounds.”

UPDATE, Monday, 1/23/12: In a phone interview Adamczyk said, “I was aghast that a student accepted to the University of Washington would do something like this. We assume that they come in with a certain level of maturity and respect for others, but that was not the case in this instance.” Adamczyk added an email was sent to all Haggett Hall residents notifying them that a hate crime had occurred; that the building administration takes it seriously; and that they should forward any information about this or similar incidents. Adamczyk confirmed no suspect has yet been identified and for now the assumption is that the act occurred in an empty hallway. There are no security cameras covering the hallway in question. The affected student was disturbed but has received assistance and support from building staff, students and his faith community, Adamczyk said.

Public Data Ferret’s University of Washington archive


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Documenting witness intimidation by phone – legally

by Matt Rosenberg January 11th, 2012

Since a Washington State Supreme Court ruling in 2008, King County Jail authorities have been able to continue legally recording phone calls made by detainees. County prosecutors say calls by those charged with domestic violence especially can yield valuable evidence. Signs near phone areas warn all detainees their calls will be recorded and potentially incriminating statements may be used against them. This does not always prevent them from instructing their alleged victims not to testify, or threatening them, as shown in a recent episode of the The Justice Files from King County TV.

One in three murders in King County are domestic violence-related, says King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg.

More episodes of The Justice Files here. Also see King County TV’s YouTube channel.

RELATED: King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor David Martin was part of a research team which supervised analysis of recordings of 25 Washington State felony domestic violence detainees using phone calls to try to convince their wives or girlfriends to recant. The article was published in July 2011 in the journal Social Science and Medicine and is titled, “‘Meet me at the hill where we used to park’: Interpersonal processes associated with victim recantation.” The authors conclude that detainees use a common set of emotional tactics to urge recantation and that victim advocates should work to raise awareness among victims of these tactics.

Public Data Ferret’s King County+Courts archive


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Conviction for stalking on Aurora #358 bus route overturned

by Matt Rosenberg December 19th, 2011

A state appeals court last week threw out the conviction of Akbar Mhea in Seattle Municipal Court and King County Superior Court for stalking 87-year-old Vera Galbreath of Seattle on an Aurora Avenue bus late at night and after both debarked at 80th Street. The court said although Mhea’s conduct was both “abnormal and threatening,” stalking didn’t occur because his actions comprised only one continuous episode of following and unwanted verbal contact, not repeated instances. However, an interview with the victim raises some questions.

Admitted sex abuser was Census field rep in King County

by Matt Rosenberg December 16th, 2011

For more than two years year after he began repeatedly sexually abusing a developmentally disabled woman he cared for as a nursing aide in a state-run assisted living facility in Shoreline – and for three months after public release of a Washington State Department of Health disciplinary document he signed confessing to the abuse – Shoreline resident Bart Finkbiner continued in a second, 20-hour-a-week job as field representative for the Seattle-region U.S. Census Bureau office, visiting an average of seven to eight homes per week in north Seattle and north King County to liaise with members of households which hadn’t responded to mail or phone prompts to complete the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Although there are no reports of any further misconduct by Finkbiner, the five-state Seattle Region U.S. Census division’s director Ralph J. Lee said that upon learning last weekend of Finkbiner’s signed confession to the state, he suspended Finkbiner with pay and ordered his work laptop, employee badge and other work materials removed from his work area, as an internal inquiry process unfolds.

State worker car crashes cost $21 million from ‘07-’10

by Matt Rosenberg November 3rd, 2011

In the four most recent years for which public data is available from the State of Washington, the state has paid $21,661,799.44 in costs related to car and light truck crashes involving state workers. That total includes:

  • $7,537,186.85 in worker’s compensation claims;
  • $8,763,910.42 in tort liability (negligence claims);
  • $5,360,702.17 in repair costs.

  • All sub-totals are classified as “paid-to-date.” The information comes in an undated report titled “State Worker Car Crash Costs For FY07-FY10″. The report was actually released in June of this year, according to officials overseeing the state’s “risk management” division. That’s the section of the state Loss Prevention Program which prepared the report. The report covers state fiscal years 2007 through 2010, which ended June 30, 2010. Officials said data is not available yet for fiscal year 2011, ending June 30 of this year.

    Over the four-year stretch covered in the report, annual workers comp payouts for car crashes involving state employees went from $1.9 million in fiscal 2007 to $2.8 million in 2008, then dropped to $1.4 million in 2009 and $1.2 million in fiscal 2010. Four agencies – the state departments of transportation, social and health services, commerce, and the state patrol – accounted for $3.78 million or almost exactly half of the workers comp payouts to state employees for car crashes in fiscal 2007-2010, with payouts for each agency reaching above $500,000. Thirteen other agencies accounted for another $3.2 million in those claims paid, most of the rest of the $7.5 million sub-total. No car crash-related workers comp claims were paid by 113 state agencies.

    When payouts are combined for all three categories (workers comp, tort claims and car repairs), eight state agencies exceeded the $500,000 threshold: the state patrol, social and health services, transportation, corrections, Washington State University, labor and industries, fish and wildlife, and commerce.

    The report was compiled over 10 months following the end of 2010 fiscal year from the following sources:

  • OFM’s tort claim database
  • the Department of Labor and Industries – workers comp claims database
  • information from the state’s Legislative Evaluation and Accountability Program
  • General Administration motor pool repair costs database
  • Individual agency fleet repair costs submitted to OFM
  • State Board of Community and Technical Colleges Annual Fall Quarter Reports

  • Public Data Ferret Transportation archive

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    Seattle parks gun ban shot down again

    by Matt Rosenberg October 31st, 2011

    A gun ban approved by Seattle for city parks and other city recreation facilities has been rejected again in court, this time by a three-judge state appeals court panel. The court was hearing an appeal of a earlier decision, reported by The Seattle Times in February 2010 when a King County Superior Court judge first disallowed the city’s ban. Today’s ruling authored by Judge Ann Schindler says only the state legislature has the power to authorize whether or not cities can enact a gun ban in parks, and the lawmakers haven’t permitted that yet.

    In sum, we hold that RCW 9.41.290 preempts the Firearms Rule. Except as expressly authorized by the legislature, municipalities are prohibited from regulating the possession of firearms at city-owned park facilities open to the public. Whether to amend RCW 9.41.300 to prohibit possession of firearms at city-owned parks and park facilities frequented by children and youth is a question for the legislature to decide.

    The city parks gun prohibition, instituted in late 2009 at the urging of outgoing Mayor Greg Nickels after a shooting at the 2008 Folklife festival and other shootings at parks properties, was challenged by gun rights groups including the Second Amendment Foundation in Bellevue, on behalf of gun rights proponents including co-plaintiffs Winnie Chan, a Washington Department of Corrections employee, and West Seattle resident Ray Carter, founder of the Seattle chapter of the gay and lesbian gun rights group Pink Pistols.

    In a phone interview this afternoon Carter said he was pleased by the ruling and hoped the City of Seattle would put pragmatism over pursuit of a “philosophical holy grail” by avoiding what he says would be a fruitless appeal to the state Supreme Court. He said he feels strongly about his right to legally bear arms in city parks because “there is no magic barrier” making them a crime-free zone. A private citizen could be threatened with violence and potentially loss of life “in Victor Steinbrueck Park, Pioneer Square, Lincoln Park or walking out of the Rainier Community Center at high noon,” Carter said. Carter, who formerly worked at an electric car dealership, now is employed as a fundraiser for the Second Amendment Foundation.

    Kimberly Mills, communications director for Seattle City Attorney Peter Holmes, said Holmes’ office is analyzing the ruling and will be briefing Mayor Mike McGinn and the Parks and Recreation Department before any decision is made on appealing to the state’s high court.

    Public Data Ferret’s Public Safety+Courts archive


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    Appeals court clears Puyallup Tribe cops in suspect’s death

    by Matt Rosenberg October 10th, 2011

    Puyallup Tribe police officers acted properly and under the protection of tribal sovereign immunity when in May, 2007 they subdued with a stun gun an erratically-behaving intruder named Jeffry Young at a tribal drug treatment center who then in their custody died of “excited delirium syndrome.” The news comes in a a ruling released today by the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division One. The ruling holds the three officers are not liable for claims against them by Young’s brother Chris including excessive force, wrongful death and civil rights violations.