Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Safety First? (UPDATED)

I already shared my sympathy for the good people at Sabai Thai, who have apparently endured several burglaries in the recent past. But the "official" coverage of that story has gotten a little more interesting, what with eight business owners showing up at the suspect's first hearing to complain about the lack of police response to property crimes.
That's a little unusual, and fairly noteworthy.
Several years back, Ann from Sabai Thai told me that she had gotten her purse stolen at a restaurant downtown. She went to the restroom, and when she came back, the purse was gone. She told the manager of the restaurant, and they called the police. While they waited for an officer to show up, the manager was able to show Ann the security cam video of her purse being taken.
And so they waited. And waited. No officer ever arrived. The next day, during office hours, when Ann went to the police department, no one seemed particularly interested in following up. So far as she knew, no one from the police department ever went to the restaurant to watch the video footage either. No one was ever identified or arrested for the crime.

It's a version of a story that I've heard from a number of people in Port Angeles: Police non-responsiveness. I couldn't help but think of all those stories when the stories of these burglaries - and the public response to them - made the news.
What has your experience been? Are these business owners missing the mark, or are they on to something? We know that Port Angeles is strapped for cash, and they've even announced that they don't have enough officers to enforce certain laws. (I guess the Port Angeles PD won't be flying any officers to Paris anytime soon, eh?) But is there a real law enforcement problem in Port Angeles? If so, is it driven by the budget, or the lazy and corrupt nature of the entrenched bureaucracy?
And finally, if there is a problem with crimes being left to essentially solve themselves, does the buck stop with individual officers, chief Terry Gallagher, or the City Council? In other words, who, if anyone, can we expect to hear the voices of these victimized business owners who are saying more needs to be done?
According to a follow-up article about these burglaries, it turns out that the police didn't even catch this guy. One of the victimized business owners tracked him down (via tips generated on Facebook) and "cornered" him at him house, then called for the police to come and get him.
While I'm glad that the businesses that were robbed can probably feel better now, and Facebook will probably be thrilled by the good publicity, needless to say, this is not how our law enforcement system is supposed to work, unless the Port Angeles PD held a secret ceremony of some sort, magically deputizing the entire town...


  1. The City of Port Angeles spends millions every year on all kinds of things. It isn't that Port Angeles doesn't have money, it is what it decides to spend it on, and why.

    How can you get more grant money, if you can't show how pathetic and needy you are. You have to have statistics, and upset residents to show that the State and Feds should give Poor Angeles more money.


  2. Ever wonder why Port Angeles struggles so? Ever wonder why so many good intentions go up in flames here? Ever wonder why so many crackpot ideas seem to take root here?

    Let's tie this story into another that's been in the news lately.

    Dan Williams says his magic tram could draw up to 10,000 visitors a day to Port Angeles. That seems steep, to say the least, so let's cut it in half. That gives us 5,000 visitors a day, at least during the peak magic tram months.

    Now, let's say that our local meth head burglars and thieves catch on to this. And let's say they're motivated enough to rob/break into the cars/hotel rooms of just 5% of those visitors. That would be 250 incidents A DAY. Do you suppose we have the police staffing and/or training to deal with that sort of thing? I don't.

    My point is...We have a problem, people. Our so-called leaders keep thinking they can layer happy magic dust and bogus good news over the rotten foundation they have built and maintained. They think that somehow this pixie dust will eventually smother the bad elements here, and rainbows and sunshine will prevail.

    Uh, no. Even if we did somehow manage to convince more tourists to visit here, many of them are likely to have a less than positive experience. Meanwhile, the bonus bodies will serve to feed the crooks and addicts who are already here.

    In other words, we need to deal with them FIRST. We need to get our house in order before we can ever hope to start inviting more people over. Right?

    Now, obviously, if you think there's no problems or shortcomings with our local law enforcement, then you'll probably think I'm way off base. But I personally do think we have a problem. So long as the economy here struggles, it will only continue to get worse. After a certain point, which we may already be past (in my opinion), the dysfunctional system becomes sort of self-perpetuating, especially when it's enabled by clueless elected officials who waste and misallocate precious and limited resources.

    All of which is, I guess, a long-winded way of saying that the petty crooks in this town are greatly a byproduct of the political crooks in this town.

  3. It is a tough issue. Nobody wants to pay more in taxes (or special assessments) to have more police (or road crew, or code enforcement officers, or electrical workers, etc., etc.) on duty, but when "something" happens to them, they demand the benefit that "more" provides.

  4. It doesn't help that our police/courts are "catch and release". The jails are too full, the courts too busy, and, there are the tons of spawn of long-time residents who are well connected (and never prosecuted).
    There is something very wrong when the courts won't prosecute, and the cops are told to not arrest (because it costs money). Copo's are really only there to write tickets and get more $$ into the coffers. They're a tax collection service.

  5. I'd love to know the police officer to drug addict ratio for Port Angeles and Clallam County. I would imagine that it would be staggeringly high, no pun intended.

  6. Recently Chief Gallaher said there was on average only 3 police units available at any given time. He further stated it would do no good to try and flag down one of them as they were probably already answering a call. We spend $5 million per year on the Port Angeles Police Department, another one million on the 911 service. Still we can not expect the level of crime fighting they can expect in Sequim. However, recently when there was a program presented to Revitalize PA, 8 officers were in attendance from the chief to sergeants on the PAPD as well as detectives from the Sheriff's Department. So, they have plenty of officers available for their dog and pony shows but none for crime prevention. Yeah, this sits at the feet of city council and city manager. All organizations sink to the lowest level of performance demanded of them.

  7. "Yeah, this sits at the feet of city council and city manager. All organizations sink to the lowest level of performance demanded of them."

    Well said!

  8. Why do I get the feeling that, if a city council member's house were to be robbed, the police would be all over it?

    1. No kidding. But this is par for the course in Port Angeles. It's a city and a system that's rigged to prop up the chosen few. Mere tax and utility bill paying citizens don't count.

    2. Three council seats are up for grabs come November. I hope all who post here will run. No, really, I'm serious. I see more innate wisdom here than at all the meetings I've attended over the past two years.
      The 3 are Danny "Boy" Digui...you spell it, Cherie "It's a beautiful Day" Kidd me not...and Sissi "One day I'll grow a penis" Bruch. Two of them gotta go and Sissi too if she can't put an act together by November. "going along to get along got us to here...

    3. Anonymous 6:19 PM...I allowed your comment, with some reservations, because I think you meant well. I also believe the expression is to "grow a pair of balls." If you're going to use outdated, sexist phrases, at least try to get them right, okay?

  9. The city council members only have the respect and credence we give them. Why do we give these folks any credence, credibility or power? We quote them as if their words are valuable and/or important. Why? There are plenty of people talking around town.

    Speaking of which. Who will be surprised to see a few certain members of Revitalize Port Angeles run for City Council?