When I uploaded the video from WSP’s speed enforcement in Wenatchee earlier this week I had no idea it would blow up to become a national news story. I was hoping that others would share my frustration after hearing officers running late to a conference blowing through a speed trap 20+mph over the limit without being stopped.
Apparently this video struck a nerve with folks. It was first picked up by Komo here in Seattle, then KCPQ, then Kiro. I ended up getting phone calls from news agencies all over the country asking about the video.
I agreed to do on-camera interviews with ABC World News and Kiro to discuss my thoughts on the incident. After seeing me on TV I received a lot of texts/phone calls from friends telling me that I’d better avoid driving for a while, basically implying that WSP will want to “get even” for making them look bad.
Friday I was contacted by an attorney in Wenatchee that kindly offered to represent any motorist that received a citation at that speed enforcement operation for free. Attorney John Brangwin sounds like he’s very familiar with WSP and defending those who receive tickets in these types of situations. If you received a citation at this location and want to talk with John, his phone number is 509-663-3915, or visit his firm’s website for more contact info.
His services may not be needed however- Friday the news announced that WSP was “voiding” all the citations issued at that location for the two days that the conference attendees were allowed to pass through without receiving tickets.
The incident was embarrassing to the State Patrol and they will be making changes to how they handle patrol cars that are speeding through their enforcement areas in the future.
Mark my words on this one- they will encrypt their air to ground communications sometime in the near future. They will cite “public-safety” or “privacy” as their reason, but the real reason is they don’t like having something like this being brought out to make them look bad.
I had to make a run to Wenatchee today for work. It was an uneventful drive over highway 2, until I got a couple miles out of Wenatchee. I had been following a police car over the pass from Lynden, which was a little odd considering that’s up in Whatcom county. As we got close to Wenatchee a WSP patrol car came up on my bumper, both the Lynden car and I moved aside for him to pass. It passed me about the time we entered a speed emphasis area of highway 2. I had my scanner so I flipped over to WSP car to car frequency and picked up the aircraft chatter with the ground units.
As I continued on my way past the speed
trap “emphasis” I could hear the pilot NOT calling out the speeds of the speeders- asking ground units to confirm if they were patrol cars or not. He said he tracked several patrol cars doing “over 80” in the 60 mph zone, but they stopped none of them. It became clear that all these speeding police cars were on their way to a “drug recognition expert” conference at Lake Chelan. Apparently that’s good enough for WSP, they let them all through without stopping any of them. (They did stop a motorcyclist- but he also was heading to the conference and it sounded like he got a pass too- for 78 mph and cutting off a car).
Check out the video and see for yourself- classic case of “do as I say, not as I do”
Anyone watching the national news over the past week or so has probably seen some video of protestors facing off against heavily armed police in Ferguson, Missouri. Some were surprised that a relatively small police department had such military grade hardware.
Many of the smaller state and county law enforcement agencies received military equipment from under the 1033 Defense Department program from 2011 to 2013.
Here is a list of Washington state agencies that received military gear from 2011-13:
The total value of this equipment was $10,165,752.23. Most expensive item I could find was a “Helicopter, Utility” with a value of $922,704. Also found several “Mine Resistant Vehicles” with a total value of $2,798,000 were sent to Washington state during that period. Handy for community policing.
Video of a police chase a couple of days ago in Tennessee. Check out the construction worker at the start of the chase, bike buzzes past him and the patrol car can’t figure out if he wants to drive on the sidewalk or the roadway.
Always refreshing to see law enforcement interacting with public in a positive way. Yesterday a Yakima man decided to grab some video of the local SWAT team after hearing one of their flashbangs pop off at a neighbor’s house. Seems like a reasonable thing to do, not everyday you get to see the para-military SWAT guys playing with their toys.
Apparently that was unacceptable to one of the gentlemen wearing a soldier’s costume. He arrested the man for obstruction, even though he was on public property and well within his rights. These guys are good at lobbing flashbangs and driving tanks around, just a bit rusty on the first amendment.
I had to run to Seattle this morning to look at a project at a Boeing facility. On my way home there was your typical stop and go traffic backup associated with an accident on northbound interstate 5. I saw some blue and red lights on a couple of white SUV’s and assumed it was Washington State Patrol. I was a little surprised to see two DHS Tahoes parked on I-5 with their lights on, behind what appeared to be your typical I-5 accident. These were “Federal Protective Service” units, charged with “protecting thousands of federal facilities” according to DHS’s website.
Not exactly sure why they were part of this accident scene, but it seems a little odd that two of them would be involved in something like this, with all the WSP and SPD units in the area that could assist with this mess. Perhaps the totaled GMC Denali is some new type of “Federal Facility” that requires two units to protect?
This morning the body of Washington State Patrol Trooper Sean O’Connell was transported from Skagit Valley Hospital to a funeral home in Everett. Well over 100 patrol cars and motorcycles formed up a motorcade to honor him. I grabbed some footage from the 12th Street overpass between Everett and Marysville.
[UPDATE 05-25-13: A 72 year old man in a vehicle that was struck by the felony suspect died as a result of the accident.]
Lynnwood had a quick (two minutes) pursuit tonight that resulted in a multiple vehicle accident that sent two to Harborview.
Apparently the suspect they were in pursuit of had a felony warrant. Hopefully getting him in custody was worth the carnage that resulted from this pursuit.
A lot of law enforcement agencies have different pursuit policies for motorcycle units- they are harder to see, have much higher risk of injury in the event of an accident, and obviously they are not capable of the PIT maneuver to terminate a pursuit.
Most agencies will allow a motor officer to initiate the pursuit but require the officer to give up the pursuit to a marked patrol car as soon as possible.
That’s what makes the following footage so unusual- this motor unit starts the chase and continues in a pursuit that lasts several minutes. It’s pretty impressive riding by the officer, but the multiple intersections and opportunities for him to get hit by an inattentive driver are hard to overlook.
In the end the dirtbag in the car was captured and booked, but I question if the risk was worth it in this case.
Check out the video: