Bremerton Police Chief Steven Strachan

Impaired drivers, helpful residents, and hotel encounters | Police Calls

We started last week with some extra enforcement for impaired drivers. The first DUI driver on Sept. 9 was initially stopped by Officer Allan McComas for speeding. When the driver attempted to pull over, he ended up driving completely into the ditch. This was our first clue. Add in the odor, some bloodshot eyes and a few poor sobriety tests, and he was arrested on a .12 alcohol content — way higher than the legal limit.

Traffic Officer Steven Forbragd stopped a second car a short time later, also for speeding, and watched as this car bounced into the curb as the driver tried to negotiate the difficult “pull over to the side of the road” test. The driver swore he was the “designated driver” and had not been drinking at all, which was belied by his .12 alcohol content on the “Data Master” breath test instrument.

We had an interesting and productive car prowling case last week, where the victim decided not to be a victim and helped us follow up and catch the guy. A woman in East Bremerton found her car had been prowled overnight when she got up in the morning. One of the articles stolen was a brand new, still-in-the-box, with-the-receipt paint sprayer from a local hardware store. The victim reported the incident to us and also called the store in case the suspect came in to return it, which is exactly what he did.

The suspect wanted cash in return, of course, and the store called 9-1-1 while they stalled him on the return. Corporal Duke Roessel was nearby and the merchandise returner did not appear happy to see the uniformed officer walking in the store. The suspect told a ripping good yarn about some needy homeless folks who had asked him to return it because they did not have ID, and he was just trying to be a Good Samaritan and help out. His story fell apart when he could not describe who or where his associates were at the time. He did not receive a refund; instead he went to jail, and the victim had her property returned.

Here is an example of some really excellent and diligent police work: About 10 days ago, Officer Jen Corn took a report about a man who had falsely accused a young man in a park of stealing his wallet. The older man had brandished a hand gun while searching the victim for his suspected stolen wallet. After finding nothing, the man drove away. We did not have a license plate, but the young man described a white Jeep Cherokee and said the man had a black Chihuahua with him.

Ten days later, Officer Corn saw a white Jeep Cherokee driving down a street in a different part of town. The driver was a similar match to the suspect, including a particular hat he had been wearing during the incident. When the officer turned around to check on the vehicle some more, she saw fishing poles in the back of the vehicle, which had also been there when the assault occurred. She stopped the vehicle and began talking to the driver, and he mentioned that he had a black Chihuahua. Eventually, Officer Corn received consent to search the vehicle and located a handgun.

It turns out the suspect is a convicted felon, and guess what? Convicted felons cannot have guns, so that was a problem. Things got worse for our suspect when she ran the handgun through the computer and it had been stolen earlier this year. The suspect was booked for numerous serious felony charges, all because of the awareness and great police work of Officer Corn — well done!

You see people at their worst and at their best in this job — sometimes, it seems, more on the worst side. Last week, officers went to a West Bremerton motel for a reported domestic violence incident. Here’s the shortened version of a long story:

A couple had apparently contacted a woman and the three decided to spend some time together in this motel. After three days, the third woman decided to part ways with the couple, and also felt that she was owed some sort of remuneration for her generous companionship, so she helped herself to $1,500 cash and left.

As you know, money problems can cause strain in relationships. A dispute — combined with copious consumption of alcohol — arose between the couple. At some point in the argument, the anger and alcohol caused the woman to use the name of her former, rather than current, boyfriend, which seems to have exacerbated the situation. There was no actual assault, so the woman was taken to the hospital for medical and psychiatric issues, and the boyfriend announced that he was mad at our department and that he and his girlfriend would never return to Bremerton. Corporal Jason Vertefeuille wrote, “Everybody wins!”

Finally, we receive reports about traffic and other neighborhood problems frequently, and although limited resources sometimes keep us from always responding as soon as we want, we do all we can to respond to the concerns. Last week, we received this great feedback from some new Bremerton residents:

“My wife and I recently purchased a home on Trenton Avenue and, while we love our new home and the city, we quickly became concerned about the speed of traffic on Trenton.

“I made a report using the online form provided on your website and was delighted to see that not once, but twice, the Citizens Auxiliary Patrol has been out to check speeds. In addition, today we saw a marked Bremerton Police car, number 121410, performing a traffic stop in front of our property.

“I want to extend a sincere thank you to your department and the officers for their professionalism and taking issue with my complaint. While I understand that you won’t be able to enforce the speeds in front of our house around the clock I do appreciate your willingness to make a prompt effort regarding traffic near our home. Again, thank you to you and your staff.”

Work hard, have fun, and stay safe.

— Steven D. Strachan is chief of the Bremerton Police Department. Contact him at Steven.Strachan@ci.bremerton.wa.us