Legislation to aid law enforcement proposed on shootings’ anniversary

November 29, 2012

NEW — 4 p.m. Nov. 29, 2012

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert introduced legislation Thursday — three years to the day after a gunman killed four Lakewood police officers at a coffee shop — to improve information sharing among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

Reichert, a former King County sheriff and Auburn Republican, joined another Washington lawmaker, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, to introduce the Department of Justice Global Advisory Committee Authorization Act.

Investigators determined the killer in the Lakewood shootings, Maurice Clemmons, was a convicted felon on parole and the relevant information was not effectively transmitted to proper authorities.

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Residents can donate to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts

November 6, 2012

Opportunities abound for local residents to help people impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy came ashore in New Jersey late Oct. 29. The storm caused at least 95 deaths throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region. The storm caused at least $7 billion in damage across the Eastern Seaboard.

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Officials offer advice to avoid storm-related scams

November 6, 2012

Officials at the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI and the National Center for Disaster Fraud urged potential donors to avoid fraud related to disaster relief scams.

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Next King County sheriff faces tough decisions to reform agency

October 16, 2012

The contest to lead the King County Sheriff’s Office could hinge on a series of audits into how the agency operates.

The sheriff oversees a budget of about $150 million and about 1,000 employees, and leads the largest local police organization in the state after the Seattle Police Department.

John Urquhart

Steve Strachan

The contentious race pits Sheriff Steve Strachan, a former Kent police chief, against John Urquhart, a former sheriff’s office sergeant and spokesman.

King County Council members appointed Strachan as sheriff in April, not long after former Sheriff Sue Rahr resigned to lead the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, or state police academy.

Though the election is to fill the Rahr’s unexpired term through 2013, the next sheriff faces a landmark effort to reform the agency in response to audits critical of policies put into place under Strachan’s predecessors.

Strachan, a SeaTac resident, served as a police chief and state legislator in Minnesota before accepting the Kent post in 2006. In the Minnesota Legislature, he helped pass legislation to reduce the blood-alcohol limit to 0.08 percent. Rahr tapped Strachan as the chief deputy, or No. 2 spot, at the sheriff’s office in early 2011.

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Uncertainty clouds debate over marijuana legalization measure, Initiative 502

September 25, 2012

Marijuana sits in a jar held by Lydia George in 2011 at GreenLink Collective. File

GreenLink Collective, a medical marijuana operation along Northwest Gilman Boulevard, reshaped attitudes and policies about marijuana in Issaquah last year, as patients and officials engaged in a long debate about access to a drug banned under federal law.

In November, Washington voters could further redraw the battle lines in the marijuana debate. Initiative 502 aims to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana for recreational users. The proposal goes a step beyond a 1998 measure to legalize medical marijuana in Washington and could set a national precedent.

The initiative calls for sales at state-licensed stores of up to 1 ounce of marijuana — grown by state-licensed farmers. Marijuana-related tax revenue could pump as much as $1.9 billion into state coffers, if the federal government does not intervene.

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U.S. attorney highlights online safety as students return to school

August 28, 2012

The top federal prosecutor in the region reminded parents Aug. 20 to keep children safe online, especially as students return to school.

Jenny Durkan, U.S. attorney for Western Washington and Issaquah native, sent information sheets to public and private elementary and middle schools in the region, so the material can be placed into students’ information packets or posted on school websites.

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U.S. attorney highlights online safety as students return to school

August 21, 2012

NEW — 10 a.m. Aug. 21, 2012

The top federal prosecutor in the region reminded parents Monday to keep children safe online, especially as students return to school.

Jenny Durkan, U.S. attorney for Western Washington and Issaquah native, sent information sheets to public and private elementary and middle schools in the region, so the material can be placed into students’ information packets or posted on school websites.

Recent data indicates 13 percent of elementary school children have received some type of sexual solicitation or approach through the Internet.

“We need to protect our kids in the virtual world. Modern technology gives us many ways to learn and stay connected,” Durkan said in a statement “But it can also make our children vulnerable to predators and con artists.”

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Congressman spearheads ‘blue alert’ legislation

May 29, 2012

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert — Issaquah’s lawmaker in Congress — applauded the May 15 passage of legislation to create a National Blue Alert, a nationwide system to inform the public about people suspected of injuring or killing law enforcement officers.

Reichert, a former King County sheriff and Auburn Republican, cosponsored the National Blue Alert Act of 2012. The bill passed the House of Representatives, 394-1, on National Peace Officer Memorial Day.

“When a criminal murders a law enforcement officer, speedy apprehension is essential to protecting the public, preventing further loss of life and returning peace to communities,” he said in a statement.

The legislation establishes a communications network within the U.S. Department of Justice to disseminate information after a law enforcement officer is killed or injured in the line of duty.

The system is envisioned as similar to the AMBER Alert, a network of electronic billboards, TV spots and other messages to alert people to missing children.

The measure heads to the Senate for additional consideration.

In March, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a state “blue alert” measure into law.

Representative spearheads creation of nationwide ‘blue alert’

May 15, 2012

NEW — 5 p.m. May 15, 2012

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert — Issaquah’s lawmaker in Congress — applauded the passage of legislation to create a National Blue Alert, a nationwide system to inform the public about people suspected of injuring or killing law enforcement officers.

Reichert, a former King County sheriff and Auburn Republican, cosponsored the National Blue Alert Act of 2012. The bill passed the House of Representatives, 394-1, on Tuesday, National Peace Officer Memorial Day.

“Creating the National Blue Alert system is a crucial step forward in protecting our communities and preventing further tragedy,” he said in a statement. “When a criminal murders a law enforcement officer, speedy apprehension is essential to protecting the public, preventing further loss of life and returning peace to communities.”

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City Council sets rules for medical marijuana gardens

December 13, 2011

In a decision meant to balance concerns about patients’ rights and public safety, City Council members set rules Dec. 5 for medical marijuana collective gardens to limit such operations near schools, parks and other collective gardens.

City planners spent months collecting input from medical marijuana patients, law enforcement officers, elected leaders and residents to craft the ordinance. The result is a milestone in the effort to clarify jumbled rules for medical marijuana and untangle different local, state and federal rules for the drug.

The measure requires a 1,000-foot buffer between a collective garden and a community center, school or another collective garden. The ordinance also set a 500-foot buffer between a collective garden and park, preschool or daycare center.

The ordinance also established a limit of a single collective garden per site.

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