Tuesday, June 28, 2022
June 28, 2022

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Police accountability; fluff jam

The Columbian
Published:

Cheers: To police accountability. Washington’s Criminal Justice Training Commission, which has been expanded and now includes relatives of people killed by police, has enhanced the commission’s ability to take the badge and gun of officers. Commission members voted to apply provisions of Senate Bill 5051, passed last year, to actions that predate the law.

“We need to help restore the credibility and trust of law enforcement in our communities,” said Tim Reynon, a Puyallup Tribal Council member and a new commission member. “Misconduct that occurred before July 25 is still misconduct. Accountability doesn’t have a deadline.” Washington long has had a reputation for failing to effectively deal with police misconduct, and various measures in recent years have attempted to deal with that. The ability to remove bad officers from the force — and prevent them from easily moving to another department — is essential for protecting the public.

Jeers: To a fluffy traffic jam. This isn’t the kind of toy story we enjoy. Somebody left approximately 300 stuffed animals along Interstate 5 in Portland this week, slowing traffic and requiring highway crews to clean them up. “It’s not often we get several hundred stuffed animals visiting our highways,” said Don Hamilton, an Oregon Department of Transportation spokesperson. The stuffed critters were taken to a maintenance facility “for care and feeding.”

Officials don’t know who left the fluffies, but anybody missing hundreds of stuffed animals is encouraged to contact ODOT. Meanwhile, it is worth mentioning that there are better ways to dispose of stuffed toys; there probably are plenty of children who could give them a good home.

Cheers: To the Neptune. Students at Wy’east Middle School received a pleasant surprise recently when the Neptune — a 5-foot-long boat they launched in July 2021 off the Oregon Coast — was discovered in the waters off Hawaii. Devices on the vessel tracked GPS coordinates and took water temperatures, sending data back to the students before going dark in December.

That was the last anybody heard from the boat until it was discovered in the Pacific Ocean last month. The Neptune, powered only by ocean currents and the wind, is under repair in Hawaii and might be headed for a relaunch, renewing its journey to parts unknown.

Jeers: To identity theft. A study by WalletHub finds that Washington is the most vulnerable state in terms of identity theft and online fraud. Cases in 2021 often involved identity theft through unemployment benefits and federal stimulus programs, following a 2020 incident in which the state Employment Security Department mismanaged $601 million in unemployment payments during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. About $370 million of that was recovered.

The federal government (and numerous other websites) offers tips for avoiding identity theft, with the most basic being not to share personal information. Identity theft can lead to financial hardship and generally be a pain. Caution is required in our interconnected world.

Cheers: To the Vancouver Fire Department. Firefighters quickly knocked down a porch blaze early Wednesday morning, preventing the flames from getting to the interior or the attic. Equally important, they rescued a puppy.

Firefighters found a puppy hiding under a bed and reunited it with the family. Department officials are working with family members to find them somewhere to stay; hopefully, it will be a place that allows dogs.

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