February 4, 2020
Meeting was called to order by Kaj at 7:30am. Mark Nichols led the flag salute.
Edna interviewed Jo Johnston from Green Crow, who is active on Habitat for Humanity, United Way and Dream Playground boards.
Jack G. moved to accept Jan. 28 meeting minutes, seconded by Dr. Robins. Motion carried.
Treasurer Debby Fuson thanked the 36 members who have renewed so far in 2020.
Rebecca Larson from Dept. of Ecology will speak to PABA in the future. Attend the Chamber lunch next week to hear Rich Doenges, Regional Director for the department.
Dr. Robins announced a ribbon cutting at 1:00pm for the new Veterans Center at Peninsula College. A 3:00pm speaker will talk about traumatic brain injuries.
A Conservation District form was passed around for Robert Beebe’s nomination.
Program: Mark Nichols, Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney
Edna introduced Mark.
Mark attributes the decline in trial percentage to more functionality in working with law enforcement and said it’s a success story.
He stated the difference between charged and tried percentages accounts for plea bargains or plea resolutions.
He has found a nexus between drug crime and violent crime and will look at the state level to compare. More concerning is a rise in annual violent crime over the past 5 years. The City of Port Angeles accounts for most, then the county.
Prosecutors in counties with a population of 40,000 or less are legally obligated to discharge duties as coroner. In Clallam we still operate this way because of our Home Rule Charter model.
About a quarter of cases result in autopsy.
Suicides are down. Homicides are up for a county our size and should be in the 2-3 range instead of 7 for 2019. Accidents are rising and it’s unknown why. People are moving faster and there is industry danger.
Drug ODs are hard to track because of the use of Narcan.
Civil law enforcement for discovery of bones. They will send photos to a forensic anthropologist to determine animal vs human and age.
When asked about the cost of contracting out a coroner, Mark state the annual operating budget ranges from $170,000 to $500,000. In Clallam County the coroner’s cost is absorbed into the Prosecutor’s office. Their reimbursement is currently 60% from the state for adult autopsies.
Legislature has determined how criminals are sentenced. Now, a first felony is eligible to petition for a first-time offender waiver. State direction is getting worse for felonies. There are still three-strike laws, but the definition of what qualifies as a “strike” has eroded over time.
The coroner’s office goes to suspected homicides, suicides presenting in odd ways, and deaths of a young person. Last year he went to about 20 scenes.
A higher concentration of people yields the highest crime. He advised to keep safe from break-ins by participating in Neighborhood Watch, locking doors, having property lighting and loud alarms, and devices like Ring. Do not arm and confront intruders.
A concerning trend is violent crime in district and supreme courts and more domestic violence. The population level hasn’t risen to cause it. Drug crime is rising and Clallam County still has a big meth problem, more than heroin.
Dick P. moved to extend the meeting up to 15 minutes. Second by Edna. Motion passed.
Homelessness and the criminally transient are two different issues. When in court Mark asks the judge to order the offender to disclose their address.
WA state county prosecutors do so in the name of Washington. The entire division is technically prosecuting in the name of WA and Clallam County doesn’t receive in-kind funding. They requested a $40,000 reimbursement for extraordinary costs and will learn in June if the state will pay it. One case alone was $1M.
County Commissioner Johnson said it costs $1.6M to fund indigent cases. WA funds $80,000 of it. Relative to other states, we’re at the bottom for funding. WA State Association of Counties has sued the state seeking guidance for what constitutes an unfunded mandate.
There is no way to prevent inmates from learning from each other inside. Prison administrators make programs available for opportunity to advance in trade, language, etc. It gets more involved with how society views convicted felons Crimes of dishonesty cause employers to be more wary than possibly others. Legislation is making it easier for juveniles to vacate convictions.
Feb 10: Board Meeting
Feb 11: Dan Montana, PAFD and one-man paramedic with the homeless in our area
Feb 12: Joint Lunch Meeting with Chamber of Commerce
Meeting adjourned at 8:45am.