Police Beat: Heroin tough to kick, even with mild encouragement

Staff writerNovember 23, 2013 

Editor’s note: Compiled from reports to Tacoma police.

Nov. 21: The woman with the mohawk haircut said she was trying to kick a heroin habit. It didn’t look like much of an effort.

She was 26. Two officers on bicycle patrol spotted her sitting on a curb in the 2200 block of South C Street. Her 24-year-old friend stood nearby.

As the officers rolled up, Mohawk hurriedly shoved something under her leg. She had little talent for deception; officers spotted the syringe instantly, along with a lighter and a spoonful of what turned out to be black tar heroin.

Officers asked what she was doing.

“I was just about to shoot up,” she said.

What about her friend? Was she going to shoot up, too?

“No,” Mohawk said. “That’s my best friend. She’s trying to get me off heroin.”

Officers arrested her and booked her into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of drug possession.

Nov. 19: The teens passed the bottle at the bus stop and blared bravado. An officer in plain clothes watched.

The dispatch call said a group of youths was getting out of hand at a transit center in the 3900 block of Center Street. The officer arrived and spotted a group of about 15 people. One boy, 16, wore a “California Diamond” sweatshirt. He pulled a glass bottle from his backpack, unscrewed it and handed it to another boy who wore a sweatshirt labeled “Lincoln Abes.”

The boy in the Lincoln sweatshirt took a swig and handed the bottle back to the first boy, who handed it to a third kid wearing a New York Giants baseball cap. The third kid took a swig, wiped his lips, spat, and said that was three different liquors that tasted bad, though he used different words. The whole group laughed.

The bus arrived, and the rowdy group climbed in, followed by the plainclothes officer. The bus driver told the youths to line up in single file. Someone shouted at the bus driver, telling him what he could do.

The officer sent a quiet message to officers waiting at the next stop, saying he had probable cause to arrest the three drinkers. The bus arrived at the Tacoma Mall Transit Center. The boy in the baseball cap stepped off — two officers arrested him. The other two started walking to the front of the bus. No good; the officers wrapped them up quickly.

The boy with the California Diamond sweatshirt said he didn’t do anything wrong. He said he was a good student, trying to keep everyone else out of trouble.

The plainclothes officer explained that passing the liquor bottle around didn’t look like keeping others out of trouble — plus, it was a crime to give alcohol to his friends.

“Oh,” the boy said. “I didn’t know about all that.”

The teens were released to their families, cited as minors in possession of alcohol, and banned from the buses for 90 days.

Nov. 18: The driver wasn’t supposed to be driving, and he wasn’t sharp enough to realize that cutting off a cop in traffic might be a bad idea.

The officer was on routine patrol, heading west on state Route 16, when a brown 1993 Ford F-250 abruptly shifted lanes. The officer veered his patrol car into the shoulder to avoid a collision, flipped on the emergency lights and pulled the truck over.

The driver said the officer scared him and that he hadn’t seen him at first. The officer explained the standard procedure for changing lanes, including the first rule: Check the lane before you slide over.

The officer asked for the driver’s license, registration and insurance. The driver, 30, didn’t have any of it, but he had a state identification card.

A routine records check revealed a clumsy trail. The driver had four prior DUI offenses and an active warrant for a fifth out of Renton. His license had been suspended since October 2012, with a requirement for an ignition interlock on any vehicle he was driving. The truck had no interlock.

The officer took the man out of the truck, cuffed him and placed him in the patrol car. The driver called his brother, who arrived on foot and asked to take some tools out of the truck. The officer allowed it, impounded the truck, and booked the driver into the Fife City Jail on suspicion of multiple traffic offenses.

Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486

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