On patrol in Port Townsend: A (relatively) silent night
By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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That's according to Port Townsend Police Officer Luke Bogues.
“I think about 90 percent of them are nice.” he said, “but occasionally you get people who are rude and belligerent, and I react to that.”
During a reporter's ride-along Saturday night, Bogues made three traffic stops in three hours but issued no tickets.
The first, a young woman in a gold Volkswagen, was stopped for going 37 mph in a 20-mph zone.
Upon collecting her documents, Bogues determined her insurance card had expired and she hadn't filed a change of address.
“She told me she had never been pulled over before and that she was driving fast because she wanted to warm her car up,” Bogues said.
“I had no reason to disbelieve her so I decided to not write her a ticket. But if she gets pulled over again, it will be in the record.”
A few minutes later, he stopped a driver for speeding who turned out to be an East Jefferson Fire-Rescue firefighter on his way home from a shift.
Bogues said that he “didn't want to make it any harder for the people who stop the bleeding” adding that if a particular firefighter becomes a repeat speeding offender, the police department will contact the fire chief.
The third person he stopped was a woman on Umatilla Avenue with a burned-out headlight.
On his first and third stops, Bogues told the drivers how much they could have paid if he had written up all the violations — more than $800 in the case of the VW — to underscore their seriousness.
The officer also turned around in front of the ferry terminal to pursue a driver with his lights off. As soon as he pulled behind the car, however, the lights went on.
Bogues followed it to the QFC lot to see if it was weaving. It wasn't.
“It's natural to be nervous when a patrol car is behind you,” he said. “I know that I am.”
Bogues said the city's 25-mph limit may seem to slow for some, but on dark streets excessive speed can be dangerous because drivers can't see pedestrians.
The radar unit on his dashboard has two numbers, his own speed and that of the approaching car which clicks when that speed is computed.
Pulling over speeders or issuing tickets is based on his own discretion, but he has no flexibility with driving under the influence stops; anyone who is found to be impaired will be taken to jail.
In the course of his eight-hour shift, which usually starts at 8 p.m., he also slapped an impound notice on an abandoned vehicle near the Howard Street roundabout and visited the hospital emergency room to help staff there restrain a particularly aggressive patient.
Bogues spent much of the time cruising through neighborhoods and around known hangouts.
Near the courthouse, he spotted a car in front of a local inn parked in front of a fire hydrant but didn't stop.
“I'll probably swing by a little later to see if they are still there,” he said.
“I don't want to give anyone visiting Port Townsend an unwanted Christmas surprise that costs them $68. ut they are in front of a hydrant.”
Bogues, 31, has been on the force for six years. He worked as a dispatcher for a year.
Prior to joining the department, Bogues was a reporter for the Peninsula Daily News, which he said helped him develop sources and trained him to find information.
His newspaper background led to his becoming the department's public information officer after Sgt. Ed Greene left to become chief of the Oak Harbor Police Department.
He also is handling non-press functions such as helping people with their school projects.
He also hopes to develop a social media presence, where the department can post its latest alerts on Facebook or Twitter,
“Everything we do is public record,” he said.
Bogues said it took him about five years before he felt comfortable on patrol.
But he said it's hard to make friends outside of the law enforcement community because whenever someone introduces me, it's always as 'Luke the policeman' rather than just 'Luke.'”
And if he has a drink at a local bar, even if he is off duty and not driving, he will hear about it.
Bogues said the department hasn't changed its attitude toward marijuana even in the wake of the legalization of small amounts in December.
Prior to the law, if the police saw evidence of marijuana use in a location where they were investigating a crime, “we might confiscate the drugs or paraphernalia but would not make an arrest.”
He said legalization may improve relations between the police and the public.
He also said any citizen who wants to “can come on a ride along and sit in the front seat with us while we do our jobs.”
To arrange a ride-along with the Port Townsend Police, call (360) 379-5047. A security check is required.
Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: December 23. 2012 6:34PM