In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Data drives sheriff's patrol;antiquated law should be repealed



Cheers: To the Clark County Sheriff's Office for a new approach to assigning patrol officers. For years the county has collected routine data about crimes, accidents and other incidents that local police agencies respond to every day. So it has not been unusual for sheriff's deputies to, say, patrol a burglary hot spot looking for property thieves.The new approach overlays some not-so-apparently-related incidents to identify trouble spots. Specifically, deputies compared property crimes and traffic accidents, and found they tend to occur in the same areas. So that's where they are now assigning patrol emphasis. The data-driven approach is too new to show results, but the goal is a 10 percent reduction in vehicle prowls, thefts, and residential and commercial burglaries over the course of a year. A similar program in Maryland proved effective.

By the way, the spots where both property crimes and accidents are high include the Highway 99 and Northeast Hazel Dell Avenue strips generally south of Northeast 99th Street, and the Orchards area between Northeast Fourth Plain Boulevard and the Padden Parkway both east and west of Northeast 117th Avenue.

Jeers: To an outdated, misguided state law that allows marriage to remain an absolute defense against some allegations of rape and sexual assault. Until the 1970s, most states considered marriage to preclude any form of rape. Over the years most states repealed all of these laws, but Washington repealed only the part of the law dealing with first- and second-degree rape. This year, House Bill 1108 would finally remove the exemption in the law from both third-degree rape — in which no force is used — and taking indecent liberties, which would be when a spouse is unable to consent. Despite some concerns by defense attorneys, the Legislature should pass this bill.

Cheers: To community support for a hard-working security guard with diabetes. Jesse Wolff works for a private firm that provides security services to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center. Though he works in the hospital, as a contractor Wolff isn't covered by health insurance, and his lower-wage job doesn't allow him to regularly purchase the medical supplies and equipment he needs to maintain good control of his Type 1 diabetes.

Columbian reporter Marissa Harshman heard about Wolff through another source, and he agreed to tell his story. After it appeared in the paper, he — and Harshman — were peppered with calls and emails from people who wanted to help. Hospital staff who know Wolff, but didn't know about his health problems, offered their medical expertise, and PeaceHealth's charitable foundation was contacted by someone who will help pay for an insulin pump. Also, an account for Jesse Wolff has been set up at iQ Credit Union.

Jeers: To overly expensive state ferries. Anyone who's been to the Seattle waterfront will realize that Washington operates the largest ferry fleet in the United States, transporting some 22 million passengers every year. Recently, the state has been building some new ferries to replace ancient boats that deteriorated to the point where they could no longer be safely and economically repaired.

A new state performance audit suggests the state overpaid to construct these new vessels when compared with similar ferries constructed elsewhere. The Herald of Everett cites the example of the Chetzemoka, a new 64-car ferry that cost Washington taxpayers nearly $80 million. A similar 76-car ferry constructed for the state of Massachusetts, in contrast, cost only $43.4 million. The audit suggests several solutions that could reduce the cost of future ferries. The state would do well to adopt these principles before agreeing to build any more boats.