We all know police officers should never draw conclusions based on initial appearances. However, it is very difficult not to make certain negative assumptions when you see someone driving on … the sidewalk.
When a resident called in that complaint on Kitsap Way and gave a description of the vehicle, Sgt. Keith Sargent astutely believed we might be dealing with a possibly intoxicated driver. Sgt. Sargent pulled into the parking lot of a motel near the sidewalk where this vehicle was last seen and quickly located the car. Sgt. Sargent walked up to the car and was just a little surprised to find a man in the driver seat bent forward, exposing his buttocks at him, and flipping him off with both fingers behind his back.
It’s somewhat unclear whether the driver was aware that Sgt. Sargent was a fully uniformed police officer, but as soon as he addressed the driver, the man very quickly pulled up his pants.
Officer Sara Felty arrived and attempted to conduct field sobriety tests, but the bizarre behavior persisted. The man proceeded to call both officers derogatory names, mostly with slurs aimed at Jewish people. He was taken to a fire station after agreeing to provide a blood test; however, when he entered he started making insulting comments about 9/11 and the firefighters who died during that event. He went on to call one of the firefighters a “skinhead.” He revoked his consent to a blood test, requiring more time and general screwing around until he was taken to a hospital. He eventually went to jail for DUI, where he can work on improving his people skills.
In this job, you really never know what you are going to observe each day. Sgt. Rich Cronk was near the ferry terminal when he heard someone yelling from a minivan parked nearby. He looked over to see a man grab a gas can out of the van and start dousing the interior with fuel. Thinking he was about to witness an arson and maybe a whole lot more, Sgt. Cronk dashed over and detained the man. When questioned, the guy said he dumped the gas inside the van because his wife wouldn’t get out. I guess it worked, because she did get out. The problem for him was that he was arrested and booked for felony domestic assault and his now-flammable van was impounded.
Officer Brandon Greenhill spotted a man at a downtown convenience store this week who looked wobbly when he got into his car, and looked to be possibly under the influence. It was determined that the driver did not have a valid license either. When the driver started the car and pulled out, Officer Greenhill motioned for him to pull over. Did I mention that Officer Greenhill is one of our bicycle officers? The officer saw the driver look back at him through the mirror of the car but ignore him. Officer Greenhill turned on the emergency lights on his bike and ordered the driver to pull over, but the guy peeled out and sped off, fleeing from the attempt to stop him. A short time later, other officers spotted the car at a West Bremerton gas station and the man was placed under arrest for DUI, and we added the crime of eluding police.
Officer Berntsen had an interesting encounter while investigating an unwanted subject on 11th Street. The woman was asked to leave by a contractor working on a house, but she decided to remain lying on the sidewalk. Once Officer Berntsen arrived, the woman became more agitated. So agitated she did each of the following:
Slapped Officer Berntsen in the face and arm.
Tried to light her own hair on fire with a lighter.
Poured a box of Cap’n Crunch on Officer Berntsen.
Resisted arrest once on the ground.
Soiled her clothing while being arrested.
The woman was booked and jailed for assault.
Here are a couple of examples of why it is so helpful to have residents call us when they see something suspicious:
Last week, our dispatch center received a report of a possible stolen truck driving down Warren Avenue. A friend of the victim knew about the truck and saw it, and immediately called 911. Officer Jen Corn began checking the area and located the truck leaving Evergreen Park. She followed the truck to a parking lot a few blocks away, where the two occupants got out and began to start searching through items in the truck. They were held at gunpoint until assisting officers arrived.
The two were taken into custody and the investigation began. The truck was confirmed as a stolen vehicle, and it was filled with, almost literally, a “ton” of stuff. Officers Corn and Alec George searched through the large volume of items, almost all of which are suspected to be stolen property, including checks, ID cards, and electronics, along with … you guessed it, meth and heroin. The suspects went to jail for a long list of charges and the officers are still working on sorting out all of the property and getting it back to the rightful owners.
Later in the week, we had another great example of people helping us fight crime. A vigilant Madrona Point resident saw some people in a white Honda stop and rummage through mailboxes, so they called 9-1-1. Moments later, Officer Trevor Donnelly spotted said Honda on Kitsap Way. He stopped it as it drove quickly into a motel parking lot, where the driver got out to fiddle with the trunk — you know, so they didn’t look too suspicious.
The driver was suspected of having an arrest warrant, and when he verbally identified himself, he gave the same first name, middle name and date of birth as the wanted subject, but gave a different last name. Crafty! After the three seconds required for Officer Donnelly to foil this attempted ruse, he informed the gentleman that he was under arrest. He went to take him into custody, but the man ran off. He traveled about four feet but stumbled and went face first into the asphalt parking lot, where he was easily corralled and arrested.
Officers located heroin and meth, syringes, a scale and baggies in the man’s pocket. There was even a stolen license plate on the car. A great arrest on a One Man Crime Wave because of a call from a resident!
Officers and BCAPs volunteers helped out at the Gavin Buchanan K-9 Fundraiser at the Horse and Cow Pub on Sept. 17. It was well attended (including by our visiting U.S. Attorney General, who wrote a check to the foundation) and our K-9 teams did demonstrations along with the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.
Sgt. Kelly Meade and his spouse, Katee, who also volunteers with our department, once again helped to organize the collection of backpacks and school supplies for kids this fall. Officers and staff donated 235 new backpacks and more than $250 in school supplies. We split the contributions between the Opal Robertson Teen Center and the Kitsap Immigration Assistance Center.
This week, we welcome a new lateral officer, Samantha Ortona, who comes to us from Pennsylvania. Welcome, Samantha!
This week, I very reluctantly accepted the retirement letter from Detective Phil Whatley, who has served our department for several years. He has been a SWAT operator and defensive tactics instructor, as well as a mentor to kids in the community. We hate to lose Phil but thank him for his service and wish him all the best.
Work hard, have fun, stay safe.
— Steven D. Strachan is chief of the Bremerton Police Department. Contact him at Steven.Strachan@ci.bremerton.wa.us.