Politics & Government

Tacoma council to formalize state stalking law

A year ago the state changed its stalking protection laws.

Tuesday, the Tacoma City Council will consider changing the city’s municipal code to comply with that new state law.

Four years ago, special education teacher Jennifer Paulson, 30, was killed outside of Birney Elementary School by a man who stalked her for years. Jed Waits died during a confrontation with Pierce County deputies.

Her father, Ken Paulson, lobbied for better protections for stalking victims.

The governor signed the Jennifer Paulson Stalking Protection Order Act into law one year ago at Birney Elementary School.

Jennifer Paulson had an anti-harassment protection order against her eventual killer. The bill’s passage also means a judge can order real-time electronic tracking of stalkers, a meaure Ken Paulson told The News Tribune could have helped his daughter.

Tacoma Police Department Assistant Chief Kathryn McAlpine told the City Council last year that the department serves about 800 protection orders per year, and the city doesn’t expect a huge increase after stalking protection orders are added.

“The impact will be fairly minimal in terms of what we get for public safety,” she told the City Council in September.

Before the state law went into effect, those who were stalked by acquaintences or strangers could file an anti-harassment protection order, which are frequently used to settle neighborhood disputes. Stalking victims often do not qualify for domestic violence protections under state law.

For more information about stalking protection orders, Pierce County has information on its website. The Washington courts website also has information on stalking protection orders.