Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Olympia Police Clear Officer Donald in Shooting Case

By Janine Unsoeld

Many individuals and community groups are working harder than ever on issues and conversations about race, racism and police issues ever since the Olympia police officer involved shooting of two young African American men on May 21.

Those conversations are expected to intensify.

An Olympia Police Department (OPD) shooting review board issued its conclusion on Wednesday afternoon that no policies had been violated by Officer Ryan Donald during the incident. Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts reviewed the Board’s decision and concurred.

The board determined that Officer Donald’s actions were within policy and that they did not precipitate the use of force. The decision was unanimous. According to the release, Officer Donald will return to duty in the next few weeks.

“Because of the trauma of the event and the length of his absence, the Department has a plan to reintegrate Officer Donald before assigning his routine duties,” it states.

The review board was comprised of OPD Deputy Chief Steve Nelson, OPD Lieutenant Aaron Jelcick, Deputy City Attorney Darren Nienaber, OPD Officer Jason Winner and Executive Director for the Commission of African American Affairs Edward Prince.

In a brief memorandum from Lt. Aaron Jelcick to Chief Roberts, Jelcick says that between September 21 and 29, the group reviewed more than 600 pages of investigative reports. 

On September 29, the group visited the site of the shooting near Cooper Point Road on Olympia’s westside and interviewed Officer Donald.

Chief Roberts stated, “Although the review process is complete, our conversations about this incident - our conversations about our police department and our community - are very important to us and will be on-going for some time to come.  As an agency, we pride ourselves on being open, honest and transparent in what we do and how we do it.  We hope that we’ve proved that to you again during this difficult time.

“Amongst many different venues, you can find us talking with you in your neighborhoods, schools, faith groups, business groups, civic organizations and government assemblies.  Please join us in these important conversations so that we can be the type of agency that you would like to see serving our community.”

For a copy of the official memorandum from the shooting review board follow this link and more detailed information about the Shooting Review Board, go to:

Ad Hoc Committee on Policing and Community Relations

The next meeting of the city’s Ad-Hoc Committee on Policing and Community Relations is Monday, October 5, 5:30 p.m. at Olympia City Hall, in the council chambers.

The committee will host a public community forum on Saturday, October 10, 1:00-5:00 p.m., at Risen Faith Fellowship, 2129 E 4th St, Olympia.

For more information about the Olympia Police Department, the officer involved shooting on May 21, the Ad-Hoc Committee on Policing and Community Relations and other police related news, go to Little Hollywood, or the City of Olympia website at

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Olympia’s Mayoral Candidates: A Distinct Choice

Above: Marco Rosario Rossi is a candidate for Olympia city council's mayoral position.  

“I think there is a misconception of just how pervasive poverty is in Olympia. So I look at the statistics from the county (Thurston Regional Planning Council), and Olympia has the highest poverty rate of any incorporated city in the county. Olympia actually has the third highest poverty rate of any area in the county – the only two that are higher are the reservations,” says Rossi.  

By Janine Unsoeld

Olympia voters will have a distinct choice in who will preside over the city: current city councilmember Cheryl Selby, 54, a homeowner in the historic South Capitol district, or political newcomer Marco Rosario Rossi, 34, a renter in the southwest neighborhood area of Olympia.

She is a downtown business owner, and he is a fulltime medical assistant at Planned Parenthood.

Little Hollywood conducted two, separate, on-the-fly interviews with each candidate as each went door to door introducing themselves to potential voters in two different neighborhoods: Selby in her South Capitol neighborhood and Rossi in Olympia’s eastside neighborhood. Little Hollywood strove for balance but did not necessarily ask the candidates the same questions. 

Ballots will be mailed to voters on October 14.

Above: Cara Stimson, left, a South Capitol resident for 20 years, meets mayoral candidate Cheryl Selby, right. Stimson was enthusiastic about Selby and said she voted for her two years ago. Stimson is active in her neighborhood and serves as a lead moderator for an online neighborhood networking group called Nextdoor.

Mayoral Candidate Cheryl Selby

I met Selby at her home in a neighborhood where many historic Craftsman style houses were for sale, ranging from $650,000 to $268,000. 

On this recent Saturday afternoon, Selby had four teenagers helping her: Aspen, 16 and Jake, 16, who attend Capital High School, and Mackenzie, 16, and Aly, 16, who attend Olympia High School. Selby said she and her team have doorbelled about 7,000 homes since early June.

She is endorsed by a long list of elected local leaders and the firefighters union, Local 468, the latter of which Selby credits to her background in public health and safety training.

Selby has owned an upscale women’s clothing shop near the Olympia Farmer’s Market for nine years. She’s lived in Olympia since 1994.

As of this writing, her Washington State Public Disclosure Commission reports show that she has raised a whopping $21,837.49. Many of her highest donations are from real estate related individuals and associations, such as the Olympia Master Builders. She admits that she heard from known Democrats about that, and defends her choice to accept their donation. The mayoral and city council positions are nonpartisan; Selby is a Democrat. 

“Their current president is on the board of Sidewalk with me and he’s rallied so much support for rapid rehousing and Homes First! and all those kinds of approaches. We need those people supporting affordable housing options, so why push them away?

“I do have a broad range of support…I bring everybody to the table…I will be collaborative…. Ideology is not a good a good basis for government, certainly not on a municipal level - we can’t afford it. Our resources are so small! If we get caught up in every single global issue…and bog down city government on every national issue, it is not productive.”

Overwhelmingly, the top issue on voter’s minds is the condition of downtown Olympia.

A woman who just moved here last year asked Selby about the artesian well area and said she doesn’t go down there anymore.

“That’s a situation where everything that could go wrong did go wrong…. ” started Selby. She said that they are working on programs to help many of the people who hang out down there, and explained the role of Community Youth Services. The woman was unconvinced.

Moving along, an old timer bluntly told Selby, “The only thing the city council has done in 40 years is screw up parking.”

“…Well, there hasn’t been a business owner mayor since Tom Allen Sr., in 1976, so we need that perspective of our city on the council….” she responded.

“Well, I don’t think the city is going to do anything to improve downtown, other than to chase the bums out now,” he retorts.

Selby continues, “Well, I’m not going to give up…I want an opportunity for our kids to find family wage jobs and a quality of life….”

“Define family wage jobs,” the man demands.

“Well, we can’t just rely on the state for that….we’ve got county jobs, but we have to go after high tech industry, just like everyone else, right, but we’ve got amazing recreational and cultural assets. We just hired our economic development coordinator…and she is our tool in the toolbox for recruiting businesses,” she says.

“Well, I’ll be surprised if it happens…private enterprise is what’s going to make that sing…Like I’ve been saying for 40 years…what have we got? We lost Penney’s, we lost Miller’s….” he says.

“Yeah, well, the mall opened…” Selby responds, and picks up speed. “We have to be more creative with what we do with our downtown. We’re not alone. There are cities very similar to Olympia that have Main Street corridors, and that’s an asset. We have arts, recreation, cultural, and heritage assets….” 

Finally, she closes the conversation with him, saying she’s not a one trick pony and has a lot of energy.

Selby says the lack of mental health services and oxycodone/heroin use has created the perfect storm. Selby serves on the board of Sidewalk, which works to place people into rapid rehousing – 500 people in the last three years.

“If it wasn’t for Behavioral Health Resources, the Dispute Resolution Center, and rapid rehousing, downtown would look a lot worse…We’re doing as good a job as we can,” she said.

Addressing the frustration heard about downtown, Little Hollywood asked Selby about city ordinances that aren’t being enforced.

“I feel that our community wants one thing, and when it happens, they push back against it, and so the police are like, ‘Where do we stand?’ and with the police shooting, that elevated that feeling of them reassessing their support in the community…I think they feel like they’re walking on eggshells right now. They need to feel supported by their community, and supported by the business owners, and that’s going to happen through a lot of relationship building. Chief Roberts is probably the best thing to ever happen to the city of Olympia. I think he is a community justice advocate…I think he was just about there when the officer involved shooting happened and that set us back.”

Little Hollywood asked Selby what she is looking for in Chief Roberts’ report regarding the internal review investigation into the May 21 shooting of two men by Olympia police officer Ryan Donald.

“I’m looking for a better understanding of how our agency, individually, treats situations like this, what we can learn from it. I’m looking for a real tough look at that situation, internally. I want to know how we handle pulling our gun out of our holster. I want to know more about that.” Selby said she thought a citizen review committee would be a bit of an overkill.”

“What I’m waiting for is the findings of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Policing and Community Relations. They are going to dig in on it….”

Moving along, I asked if the city will see a leadership style from her that’s different than Mayor Buxbaum’s. She says yes, that she will run city council meetings more efficiently. She said she will try to limit public comment to 30 minutes.

“If we have more than ten people show up for a single issue, which is about a half hour, it’s in our council guidelines that the mayor has the authority to reorder people, so if someone has never been to city council before, they can speak first. And if we have 20 people wanting to speak on one issue, I’m happy to meet with them and ask them to speak for two minutes each, or otherwise, have them pick two or three spokespeople,” she said.

She agreed that such a process could get sticky. “….We do need to get a handle on it. When those occasions happen, they hold us hostage. Stalwarts can wait until the end….”

On the proposed $15 minimum wage campaign, Selby said, “I would love it if we could make that across the nation. Again, it’s one of those issues where just can’t cherry pick a city and make it happen…It’s not fair…Let’s pressure the state to get to $12 minimum. Let’s start with $12.”

“When I started my business, I didn’t even get a paycheck for a couple years. I would just have to shut my doors if I had to pay $15 an hour. There’s no way…I’ve been open nine years and I pay my employees between $13 - $15 now. I’m a dying breed…retail is just so hard, the margins are just so tight. My competitor is not down the street, it’s Amazon. People will come into my store, take a picture, and look it up online and buy it. I can’t raise my prices like a restaurant can….I’m kind of locked in….harsh reality.

Asked if she’s particularly frustrated by any issue, Selby mentions the Deschutes Estuary vs. Capitol Lake issue. “We haven’t been able to get forward on it…”

When asked her opinion on whether or not the lake should revert to an estuary, she says, “Honestly, I don’t have one….”  She says she’s met with all groups associated with the issue.

“As someone who is not a biologist, a wildlife specialist or a water quality specialist, what I see is that both sides have conflicting science. What’s that about? So, with the $250,000 that the Legislature appropriated to talk about it again, I’ll be happy with whatever comes out of it. We just can’t leave it the way it is. Either way…I just want it to be logical and then I want to advocate for whatever position comes forward….”

Mayoral Candidate Marco Rosaire Rossi

Marco Rosaire Rossi is the last one standing in what had originally been a platform of three candidates for city council under the banner of Olympia For All. 

Rossi has raised $5,137 to date, and is being endorsed by Olympia Mayor Stephen Buxbaum, several local unions, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, and the Thurston-Lewis-Mason Central Labor Council.  

Rossi first moved to Olympia in 2000, and has lived on the westside most of that time.

He has been involved in community bicycle outreach with the Emma Goldman Youth and Homeless Outreach Project (EGYHOP) and currently volunteers with the Interfaith Works Emergency Overnight Shelter.

For the last six years, he has worked as a medical assistant for Planned Parenthood, and is a steward for UFCW 21, the largest private-sector union in Washington with members working in grocery store, retail, health care and other industry jobs.

Earlier this month, Rossi said he had been busy doorbelling renters in apartment complexes, a traditionally marginalized, transient population often overlooked by candidates for public office. He has since narrowed his focus to those who are more consistent voters.

I asked him what he is hearing at the door.

“It depends on what neighborhood we are doorbelling in….Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t vote…so at the door, you do have an opportunity to educate people and talk to them. People are curious and want to find out more about the campaign.

“The estuary vs. lake issue has come up with some people, mostly on the westside. Nearly everyone is interested in it becoming an estuary so it’s just a matter of figuring that out, and that’s a position I support too.

“....The issue of downtown can be broken up into different issues: how is downtown going to develop, and safety issues….I found that people respond to issues of poverty….Usually when I talk about that, a lot of people are in agreement.

Asked about the need for a day shelter for the homeless in Olympia, Rossi said, “The city passed up a great opportunity to work on something like the People’s House to be located downtown. That type of low-barrier model is critical for pulling people off the street. Parts of that program did end up in the basement of the First Christian Church - that’s really good - I volunteer there - but we need an area that is close, and can provide multiple services: shower, laundry, all those things.

“We have to get out of this model of thinking that the homeless population can access services where they are and be more strategic and efficient about it, figure out the most cost effective way to do it, and make it easier for people to access. I want to concentrate services in the downtown, and adopt a Housing First! strategy. Cheryl Selby’s model is more incremental, with services more dispersed.”

Asked about the $15 minimum wage campaign, Rossi says the majority of people are really positive or interested in the issue.

“I’d like to adopt the Seattle strategy - if you are a large business with a high margin, you have to transfer over to a $15 minimum wage really quickly. If you are a small business with fewer employees, you have a longer period of time to make that transition….We’ve reached out to local businesses. Once we lay out the numbers and show them how they can make the transition, they tend to come around and say, ‘Yea, we can see how this can be a good thing.’” 

Rossi says the livable wage numbers say it all.

“The MIT Livable Wage indicator, which gives extremely conservative estimates…sets the livable wage in Olympia for a single person at $10.77. That's for someone working 40 hours a week. However, if that same person has one child, that figure jumps to $22.32. If that person has two children, then a livable wage is $26.47. Considering this context, we need to recognize that the fight for a $15 minimum wage is really the starting point for many single mothers, not the end goal….”

Asked about other issues, and specific downtown development proposals, such as the proposed community renewal act, Rossi said he does not have strong feelings about how to develop the isthmus area.

“It’s a very divisive issue and there’s a lot of proposals on the table. We just need a good process for exploring all those issues and what’s most beneficial for the city. Why the city is focused on that area is because in terms of development, it’s essentially the low hanging fruit…the reason the city isn’t going after smaller areas like Griswold’s is because it’s just not worth it for developers….It would be great if we could push the development of downtown northward toward the Farmer’s Market. The problem is that that area is owned by a lot of different developers, and much of it is on fill and contaminated….”

Asked about the proposed Metropolitan Parks District (MPD) ballot measure, Rossi expressed concerns.

“An MPD could be good for the city, but I do have some concerns. Olympia’s parks do need some critical maintenance. Yauger Park needs repairs in many areas, Bigelow needs improvements in its bathrooms and shelters, and Woodland and West Bay trails need to be completed. However, there is no guarantee that the revenue raised…will be used for these projects….Before we raise revenue for parks we should have a strategic plan for our park system that emphasizes density and equity….When we think about where we’re going to put a park, we need to put them in areas that are most dense. That tends to be areas where a lot of poverty is concentrated….I want to make sure that people who come out of their home onto concrete can walk to a nice park and enjoy it just like someone who lives in the suburbs.”

In that context, Rossi also wondered about other city needs.

“Unfortunately, there appears to be a misconception that we can spend endlessly on parks. Sadly, we can’t. We have to make prudent decisions if we want to have a park system that truly works for everyone in the city.…Are we going to push other things off the table which need critical investment? The city needs investments in infrastructure if we’re going to accommodate the growth we’re going to see and if we’re going to have the kind of density that will be beneficial for the environment….”

Moving on, Little Hollywood asked Rossi what he is looking for when Chief Roberts’ report comes out regarding the investigation into Olympia police officer Ryan Donald.

Rossi said it is critical to have a thorough investigation into the matter.

“No one should be assumed guilty of wrongdoing without evidence, whether it is Office Donald or Andre and Bryson….Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, the passionate feelings people have about this event, and the innate tragedy of the event itself, means that we as a community need to have a grand dialogue about police, race, and our criminal justice system.”

Asked if he would he like to see a citizen review committee overseeing the police department, Rossi said, “Citizen review boards for police are as essential to a democratic and well-functioning city as open elections and public records. I have long supported a civilian review board for Olympia and will continue to do so. Ideally, the board would have legal powers and its own independent investigator. It would have the ultimate authority regarding disciplining officers, including the ability to fire, and its members would be accountable to the public through elections or a transparent appointment process.” 

Upcoming Opportunities to Hear the Candidates

Subject to change, there are several upcoming opportunities to hear Olympia mayoral and city council candidates. Service organizations may charge an entrance fee that includes a meal. Not all candidates can attend all forums.

September 28 – 12:00 p.m., Kiwanis Club of Olympia, Tugboat Annie’s

October 1 – 7 p.m., Green Party of South Puget Sound, Traditions Fair Trade

October 5 – 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m., Downtown Rotary Club, Red Lion Hotel

October 6 – 12:00 p.m., Rotary Club of West Olympia, Tugboat Annie’s

October 11 – 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., PFLAG, United Methodist Church

October 14 – 7:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., Olympia Timberland Library, facilitated by the Thurston County Auditor’s Office

For more information about the mayoral candidates for Olympia, contact:

Cheryl Selby at 120 State Ave NE PMB 211 Olympia, WA 98501, (360)7543954,,

Marco Rosaire Rossi at PO Box 6133 Olympia, WA 98507, (312) 9613825,,

Above: A view of downtown Olympia from the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial on the Capitol Campus.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Training of an Olympia Police Officer

Postscript to Man with a Gun: A Night in the Life of an Olympia Police Officer

By Janine Unsoeld

In light of the May 21 Olympia police officer involved shooting of two men, the community is asking questions about general police training, tactics, use of force, and the discharge of a firearm.
On Saturday, September 12, Little Hollywood spent four hours shadowing two officers with the Olympia Police Department and reported on the experience in a story posted September 17 at

That night, at about 10:30 p.m., Officer Jeff Davis responded to a call involving a man with a gun at the Emperor’s Palace restaurant located on Cooper Point Road.

At the scene, Officer Davis drew his duty weapon on the suspect and then holstered it within seconds. He did not fire his weapon.

Little Hollywood later asked Officer Davis why he pulled his gun from his holster and what the protocol was for such an action.

Davis replied, “When we responded to the man with a gun, we were the third responding unit on scene. As we drove around the northwest corner of the building, I observed two officers with the suspect and immediately exited my vehicle. Yes, the suspect was down on his knees with his hands up, but the suspect was not in hand-restraints and/or yet in custody and still represented an immediate deadly threat to officers and the general public.

“When I exited my vehicle, I immediately armed myself with my duty weapon and moved toward the two officers and the suspect in order to provide cover to them and assist with restraints. 

Once there, I observed another officer place the suspect into hand-restraints and remove a large black semi-automatic handgun which was lying just inches from the suspect’s feet. An officer requested I double-lock the restraints so they would not cinch down and hurt and/or damage the suspect’s wrists. My duty weapon was holstered and secured as I moved in to double-lock the restraints.

“We are trained that action beats reaction every time. It is my training and experience that even though a suspect is kneeling and facing away from me, he still represents a deadly threat until completely secured. He could still reach for and/or grab for the weapon that was lying mere inches from his feet. 
“We, as officers, are trained to use ‘Contact’ and ‘Cover’ principles when responding to calls for service as well as contacting suspects. The two officers were ‘Contact’ while I was ‘Cover.’ The main protocol for this type of call is a combination of officer safety and scene security. Our main goal is to do things as safely and efficiently as possible. We, as officers, cannot investigate until we have established a safe and secure scene.”

In his official incident case report, Davis writes, “….Once secure, I immediately removed a large fixed blade knife and leather sheath from his left pants pocket. Officer Bronson arrived and together we assisted the suspect up to his feet in order to complete the pat down for weapons.” 

Asked how often he has felt compelled to take similar actions to draw his weapon, Officer Davis said, “So far, while being on dayshift, I have yet to remove my duty weapon from its holster. However, when I was working graveyard, it was fairly common for me to remove my duty weapon multiple times per shift. We are trained to keep our weapons in the low ready position and off target until a deadly threat presents itself.”

It is a long process to become a police officer. There are 272 recognized law enforcement agencies in Washington. To attend the Basic Law Enforcement Academy in Burien, you must be hired first by one of those agencies.

City of Olympia police Lt. Aaron Jelcick says less than five percent who apply make it to the streets. He explained the screening process in rough terms.

“Out of about 100 men or women who apply, the initial written and physical test will immediately filter out about 30 percent of applicants. Next, the psychological screening will reduce that number about 50 percent. About seven or eight will move forward to the oral review board process and background screening, but half of those individuals will wash out.

“About four are left out of the initial 100 to get an interview with the police chief who will have a conversation with the officer about post-traumatic stress disorders, bias, and other issues. At this point, they need to sign a waiver allowing the department to access their military files, if any. After the interview and reviewing those files, half will not pass. Two individuals are left to take a polygraph test.

“At this point, the one or two who are left are hired, go to the police academy to get trained for five months, go through rigorous mock scenarios involving legal issues, contact, level of force, search and seizure, and more. After this, an officer is on probation for one and a half years from the date of hire.”

A workbook called Blue Courage and a little book called The Nobility of Policing: Guardians of Democracy sat on Jelcick’s desk during our interview. 

The latter book features inspirational quotes by famous leaders and poignant stories of officers who have found themselves in challenging situations. The police academy uses these books to help officers review why they became officers in the first place. 

Plato described the policing profession thousands of years ago as the ‘guardian of democracy.’ He said, “It does not matter if the cobblers and the masons fail to do their jobs well, but if the Guardians fail, the democracy will crumble.”

When asked if there are quotas for citations or arrests, Jelcick said that that is a common myth.

Jelcick said he used to be a walking patrol officer in Olympia in the late 1990’s, and he would write about 10 criminal citations in one night for nuisance behaviors such as public urination and disorderly conduct because that was the strategy to get people off the streets.

“We went through, writing tickets, without thinking of the unintended consequences….We can’t arrest our way out of problems. The result was that most tickets turned into warrants for arrests and our jail was full….Now, we ask our officers to ask themselves, ‘How can I solve this problem?’ Writing tickets is our last resort….”

Little Hollywood observed officers on the evening of September 12 being quite tolerant of known violations such as Olympia’s pedestrian interference ordinance that restricts sitting and lying on public sidewalks.

Jelcick described how last week officers directed social services staff to the artesian well area to meet a man who needed treatment, knowing full well that the man was not going get it on his own.

“We’re thinking outside the box…and taking a qualitative approach rather than a quantitative approach,” said Jelcick.

Jelcick said that at any one time, there are about 15 – 20 persons in the city jail for felonies, driving while intoxicated, domestic violence, or awaiting arraignment on charges.

For more information about Olympia police tactics and protocols, see

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Man with a Gun: A Night in the Life of an Olympia Police Officer

Above: Olympia Police Department Officer Jeff Davis on walking patrol in downtown Olympia last Saturday night.

By Janine Unsoeld

The whistle blows, and the time between 5:00 p.m. into the wee hours in downtown Olympia becomes a time of transition.

If it’s a weekday, people are typically getting off work and going out to eat. On any day of the week, the same crowd or new folks may arrive to go to live shows or the theater.

Later, a different crowd arrives for nightclubbing, music events, and bar hopping. The clientele and the mood shifts, and certain activities escalate. Risk factors go up after 11:00 p.m., often due to excessive alcohol use, and people may do things they ordinarily wouldn’t do.

Six officers work the night patrol in Olympia, one each in the neighborhoods: downtown, northeast, southeast, southwest, northwest, and a roving car.

Because of recent events, such as the officer involved shooting of two men on May 21 and subsequent demonstrations, the department brings in five extra officers on Friday and Saturday nights.

Neighboring agencies such as the Thurston County Sheriff’s Department, Tumwater, Lacey, and the Washington State Patrol are available to assist as needed.

Lt. Aaron Jelcick of the Olympia Police Department says that this mutual aid agreement has been needed four to five times in the last four to five weeks.

To learn more about Olympia Police Department activities, Little Hollywood shadowed Olympia police officers Jeff Davis and Kory Pearce on Saturday night, September 12. 

I learned that an evening on patrol can change quickly, from routine smiles and handshakes, to a hot call from dispatch: a man with a gun.

A Busy Saturday Evening

Meeting Officer Jeff Davis at the Olympia Police Department, we start our walk around downtown shortly after 7:00 p.m.

Standing 6’3'', and weighing 260 pounds, Officer Davis, 36, lives in Lewis County and has worked for the department for nine years. Previously, he worked for the U.S. Coast Guard for four years conducting law enforcement on the water and has traveled around the world.

With two new officers sworn in last week, Officer Jeff Herbig was promoted to sergeant and Officer Davis replaced him on downtown walking patrol.

Asked how he prepares for work - five days on, four days off – Davis says he appreciates his 45 minute commute to mentally prepare to do the job.

“You never know what’s going to happen….”

Davis has no particular route, but knows where the hot spots are and checks them out. We head for the artesian well on Fourth Avenue.

Greeting many individuals by name all night long, Davis uses a friendly-sounding, random combination of phrases: ‘Hello, how are you, what’s going on? Anything I need to know about?’ In return, they greet him by name, all smiles, and sometimes give him a verbal tip or two about what’s going on.

Folks around the well immediately ask Davis for stickers, but he tells them he worked Olympia High School’s Spaghetti Bowl the night before and gave out all his stickers and glow sticks. They are bummed.

Eleven minutes into our patrol, as we walk past The Pet Works, Davis is approached by a young man who tells him that a man is having a seizure or something on the sidewalk, and points to the area near the corner of Fourth and Adams.

Davis calls it into dispatch, calmly waits for the crossing signals, and then approaches the scene. Onlookers surround a man in his thirties seated on a stool. A woman is standing near him, holding up his head. Davis puts on blue gloves, and speaks softly, asking a series of questions typical for a first responder. 

Two more officers, Officers Hirotaka and Reisher, arrive out of nowhere and stand by.

After a few minutes, the man snaps out of his state. He says he is a veteran with post traumatic stress disorder issues and the woman is his girlfriend. He refuses further assistance and we move on down Fourth Avenue.

Two women are trying to take a selfie with the “I love Olympia” mural as a backdrop and Davis offers to take the picture for them. He does so, and they love it.

We walk down Washington Street, stepping over several inebriated men lying on the sidewalk outside Caffé Vitta. Public inebriation is not a crime, Davis explains, but some businesses are more tolerant than others about people lying in front of their businesses.

Davis speaks with a couple of men sleeping in front of Furniture Works. We stop in the Alano Club on Olympia Avenue and chat with patrons, ask how things are going, and then walk towards Percival Landing.

Walking firmly ahead of me, Davis sees something and approaches two young men in the alley behind Zeigler’s Welding, announces his presence, and asks what they are doing.

“Just passing through!” one man says, and quickly darts off. He never looks back.

“Good answer!” Davis yells after him. Davis speaks to the other man, who gathers up his things and moves along, as do we.

Often, people approach Davis to shake his hand and thank him for being out and about or ask him questions.

The questions vary. Many folks say they are new in town and wonder where the nearest bathroom is located. One young man asked if it was against the law to climb a utility pole. He had witnessed someone doing that earlier.

We encounter an employee of the Olympia Parks and Recreation department near the playground who informs Officer Davis that he just locked the restrooms for the night, and they discuss the fact that the restroom on Sylvester Street near the Oyster House has now been closed for the season due to ongoing drug use and needle issues.

At 8:00 p.m., Davis’ Fitbit vibrates, and he announces that he has just logged 10,000 steps for the day so far, equaling five miles. He says he typically walks 10 – 12 miles a shift. 

We walk over to the blighted, vacant, nine story Capitol Center Building and Officer Davis is now using his flashlight to check the bushes. He finds that there are beds empty and ready.

Vehicle prowls are a problem in downtown Olympia and the police sometimes patrol the darker parking lots, looking for suspicious activity.

Heading back to the station, we walk through a lot of alleys. Davis says he likes foot patrol. 

“You miss a lot in a car, even on a bike….”

Above: In a downtown alley, Olympia Police Department Officer Kory Pearce stands by while Officer Jeff Davis speaks with three men.

After Dark: Walking Patrol in Pairs

Back at the station, we’re ready to go out with Officer Kory Pearce. Pearce, 50, says he is ten days shy of 24 years with the Olympia Police Department. Seated at his desk, he’s doing paperwork. His shift ends at 3:00 a.m.

A traffic officer who works by motorcycle, he’s on duty Saturday night as backup, as is Davis. He’s had a busy week with school back in session and on Monday, he starts a two week basic collision investigation class through the Criminal Justice Training Commission.

A proud father and grandfather, Pearce points out pictures of his family. He lives in Graham, Pierce County, 23 miles away doorstep to doorstep. He lived there when he got out of the military and didn’t want to uproot his children from their friends and schools when he started with the department. 

Asked when he will retire, Pearce said, “I’m eligible to retire in three years but I’ll probably do five, unless I have two bad days in a row!” he joked.  Not everyone can do this job….I’m a dad and a husband - this is what I do for fun,” he laughs. 

At least one tattoo on his arm is visible and reads, “It’s All About Winning” in fancy script.

Pearce says he’s seen a lot of changes in his years as an officer.

“We had a lot of problems (in the past) but not of this magnitude. There weren’t as many services, but there weren’t as many less fortunate, homeless people...we didn’t have as many services for them as we do now, shelter, meals, outreach programs. Community Youth Services was just getting underway….”

When ask I him what he’d like people to know about the police, he said, “Don’t believe what you read or hear….nothing against you, but the media is in the business of sharing stories, and the story people get is this much,” Pearce says, holding his thumb and finger close.

“....Good police service - that’s our goal every day. If I show up disheveled or acting like I don’t care, who are you going to tell? A friend. Then that person tells someone…and that gets spread around.”

Both Davis and Pearce complimented Amy Stull, the police department’s community liaison, and her team of volunteers.

“We could not accomplish what we accomplish without her and her entry, speed traps in school zones, house checks, Lakefair, parades, the Toy Run…you name it….” they said.

It's time to head out bar hopping of a different sort. It’s karaoke night at our first stop, McCoy’s, and as the woman finishes a profanity-laced version of Nicki Minaj’s, “Starships” song, she apologizes for her performance, saying that the cops made her nervous.

“You’re the one who took her picture,” Pearce quips to me as we leave out the back door.

Pearce is an edgy type, and a quick-witted joker. Sometimes it’s hard to tell when he’s joking.

A young man loaded down with a backpack and gear near McMenamin’s approaches Pearce. He says he’s new in town and wonders if there’s a bad part of town that he should stay away from.

With a straight face, Pearce says, “From the Fourth Ave Bridge to Plum.”

“That’s the whole town,” responds the guy.

It took a while for the guy to get the joke. Pearce said to just keep an eye out and he’ll be fine.

Davis and Pearce take turns checking in with bartenders or staff to see if everything is good. At the Eastside, the Fourth Ave Tav, and the Brotherhood, it’s the same: heads turn, some conversation and pool playing stops, and people silently wonder why the police are in the bar. Davis says he sometimes feels like he has a third eye.

“Most people figure something’s going on, that we were called here…they wanna know what the story is....” says Davis.

Across the street from the Brotherhood on Capitol Way, we find a car that has parked directly in the path of an alley, and the officers call it in.

Eugenio, the owner of Trinacria, comes out to greet the officers and they all chat for a few moments.

As we walk from Capitol Way up Fourth Avenue, people sit outside the busy Grandpa’s Ice Cream shop and shout out thanks to the officers for being out and about.

At the corner near Childhood’s End Gallery, a man asks where the nearest convenience store is, and he is directed to Bayview. He walks along with us since we are headed that way also.

Turns out, the man is a member of the U.S.S. Olympia crew, in town for the Foofaraw celebration sponsored by the Thurston Chamber of Commerce. He went on a helicopter ride earlier in the day. Stationed in Hawaii, he says he’s never been to Washington State before but has fallen in love with it in the last few days.

From Bayview Thriftway, we cross Fourth Avenue, cross Fifth Avenue and walk down under the bridge and along the railroad. 

A virtual tent city is underneath the bridge. When I ask about unreported crime and assaults, including sexual assaults, the officers say there's a lot among the homeless, who have their own cliques. The crimes may be unreported due to their warrant status or they may be worried about retaliation.

Above: Under the Fourth Avenue Bridge.

The officers use their flashlights, verbally announce themselves, and rouse residents, informing them that they are trespassing and could get ticketed. No tickets are issued. We walk along the railroad tracks and the officers point out debris, and various hazards, such as open, used needles.

Along Deschutes Parkway, we notice six orange luminarias floating in the sky over Heritage Park.

As we get closer, Pearce jokes that it’s a good thing this isn’t their problem because the park is under the responsibility of the Washington State Patrol. Amazingly dangerous, people are lighting pieces of coal to float flimsy paper lanterns. The officers walk by the participants who seem to be part of a wedding party drifting out from the Waterstreet CafĂ©.

Above: Floating a paper luminaria in Heritage Park.

In this suspicious climate against officers, I asked Davis what he would like people to know about the police.

Thinking a moment, he says, “…Everybody thinks we’re not trained, but we are…and I can say there are people in this profession who probably shouldn’t be, just like any other profession, but don’t generalize me into that group. Most of us are out here to make a difference and to help somebody, and that’s ultimately why I got into this profession - to do that. If you happen to catch a bad guy sometimes, that makes it great - the chance to hold somebody accountable for their actions.”

Asked about the possible use of body cameras, both Officers Davis and Pearce were supportive of their use.

Pearce said they’re a double-edged sword with the biggest issue being public disclosure requests.  

That’s about as far as we got when a couple of young men jaywalked across Legion Way right in front of us. They thought they were busted, and when they found out they weren’t, they peppered the officers with several questions about policing.

Davis’ response to my question about body cameras was enthusiastic.

“I would love to see body or dashboard cams…I’m all for them…they’re great! They tell a story – you can literally pop it in and hit play and it sets the tone.” He explained that some kinds of dashboard cams can go back two minutes when an officer “hits” their lights, which is useful in suspected driving while intoxicated stops.

He acknowledged that cameras will catch police officers doing “good stuff and stupid stuff.”

 “….We don’t get to interact too much with normal people – the people who call in are facing an immediate threat or problem, whether they are a victim or a suspect….I know when I do police work, I do a good job at it…and I follow all policies and procedures. I’m not worried….”

At 10:00 p.m., we walk out of Hannah’s, where people are singing karaoke and having a good time. I make the mistake of saying how quiet it is for a Saturday night.

Officer Davis kindly admonishes me and says there are two unwritten rules in law enforcement: one, never say it’s slow, and two, never say it’s quiet, because things can change quickly.

About a half hour later, we respond to a call from dispatch: a man with a gun is at the Emperor’s Palace restaurant on Cooper Point Road. 

Above: The Olympia Police Department's computer screen alerts officers to police activities in progress. 

Hot Call: Man with a Gun

At the Olympia Police Department, we had just parted company with Officer Pearce when the call came in. A man with a gun was at the Emperor's Palace restaurant on Cooper Point Road. A shot had been fired.

Immediately, officers poured out the doors and hopped into police vehicles of all types. Officer Davis and I jumped into a squad car and quickly traveled west through town on Fifth Avenue. I remember seeing the gawking faces of pedestrians as we zoomed by Hannah’s.

I sat in the front seat while Davis drove tight turns through the roundabouts, up Harrison hill, and through the intersection of Harrison and Division, with sirens wailing and lights flashing. We were going 70 miles per hour.

At some point back in the roundabouts, I wondered aloud if all this was really necessary. Officer Davis asked if what was necessary. My question was answered when a car in our lane slowed us down by not getting out of the way.

Davis drove around to the back of Macy’s Furniture Gallery where several police officers were already gathered. Officer Davis jumped out, ran up to the situation and, crouching low, pulled out his gun and aimed it at the suspect while two officers were in the process of handcuffing him. Within seconds, Davis put his gun back in its holster.

After a few moments, Officer Davis came back to the car and explained the situation: A man had become unruly in Emperor’s Palace, pulled out a gun, and shot a round into the air. He fled in the direction of Goodwill and went through the trees toward the back of the Target Plaza store.

Davis drove around to the area near Goodwill and told me not to leave the car. I had no intention of getting out.

Davis picked up a witness to the situation and we drove her back to the scene. Shining the car’s spotlight on the man, she identified him as the man she saw leave the plaza with a gun in his back pocket. Several other witnesses also identified the man and were interviewed.

Later, Officer Pearce, who was also suddenly on the scene, showed me on the car’s computer screen that the call came into dispatch at 22:34, and police were on site at 22:36. All told, ten officers were on the scene, and two supervisors.

For Officer Davis, the night was still young when I left him just after midnight. He didn’t mind me continuing on with him, as he would be on duty until 7:00 a.m., but I had seen enough for one night.

Thinking of all the people and situations we had encountered, I wondered what else would happen that night for Officer Davis. I had a hard time sleeping.

Above: Officer Kory Pearce's flashlight shines upon used hypodermic needles and related drug paraphernalia under the Fourth Avenue Bridge.