Rantz: Prosecutor wants bulletproof glass to protect from criminals it lets out

Dec 6, 2021, 6:00 PM | Updated: Dec 7, 2021, 5:04 am
King County Courthouse...
King County Courthouse.

The King County Prosecutor’s Office is advocating for bulletproof glass to protect its offices from some of the very criminals it refuses to prosecute. The request came to light in an email memo obtained by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

One way to avoid this new measure is to better prosecute criminals. But King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg remains uninterested in adopting a tougher-on-crime approach to our most dangerous and prolific offenders.

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Request for bulletproof glass after two incidents

Stephanie Sato, the senior deputy prosecuting attorney, emailed staff after two high-profile incidents at the King County Superior Courthouse. Both incidents occurred on Nov. 24.

The first incident involved a suspect using rocks to break nine courthouse windows. The incident occurred across two hours, yet courthouse security was somehow unable to intervene. The police were called, but due to the staffing crisis were apparently unable to respond. The suspect jumped on a bus and left the area.

But the suspect returned, the memo explains, to break five more windows. This time, the Seattle Police Department responded, but the man left again. He remains at large.

The second incident was of greater concern. County workers noticed a bullet hole in a window on the second floor. After an investigation, officials do not suspect it was the result of a gunshot, but they boarded up the window and are continuing an investigation.

“Due to glass shortages, it will take approximately 6-8 weeks before all the windows are repaired,” the memo stated.

Demands for more protection

According to Sato, the county Superior Court will be pushing for new security measures.

“We wanted to make sure you all got this information as soon as it came to our attention. The Superior Court is working with FMD to explore the possibility of installing bullet proof windows and the PAO will also advocate for this,” it reads.

A spokesperson for Satterberg confirms “the prosecutor’s office will also advocate for this.”

This isn’t the first time courthouse staff have demanded safety measures. Their concerns have been ongoing but made worse by a dangerous homeless encampment that Seattle officials allowed to grow, despite being the site of a murder, the kicking death of a dog, drug overdoses, and frequent fights.

In August, staff staged a rally outside the courthouse after a lawyer was allegedly attacked and nearly raped by a nude homeless man who was waiting inside a woman’s bathroom, inside the courthouse.

“I think there is a strong sense of fear among a lot of employees after hearing news of that incident, but I would reiterate this is not about that one incident,” Darrah Hinton, with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Association, told KING 5. “This is about long-standing concerns we’ve had that we’ve raised with the county.”

The tragic irony is that these safety measures would be unnecessary if Satterberg and the county judges did their jobs.

This is a problem of their own making

Satterberg adopted progressive policies that go light on crimes. Seattle and King County are worse off because of it. Indeed, the region is experiencing a surge in gun violence.

But Satterberg’s office downplays his negative impact on the region. His spokesperson argues they prosecute more cases than they get credit for.

“There’s a common misconception that the only cases that are charged by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office are the cases that make the news, when 95% of the cases we file never get media attention,” the spokesperson tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH via email. “That’s not a slam on the media – a whole newscast could be filled with the burglary, assault, stolen vehicle, sex crimes, domestic violence, eluding, drug dealing, unlawful gun possession and other types of cases we file routinely. There are typically 20-30 each day. That would probably make dull TV and radio and could read like an agate page in a newspaper – but it’s important for the public to know that they’re still happening.”

It’s obviously true that prosecutions occur daily. But what’s not mentioned is Satterberg’s willingness to turn a blind eye to the very felonious behavior that causes some of the very crime Superior Court staff complain about.

A blind eye and charging down

Satterberg refuses to charge for most drug offenses — a position he took years before the state effectively decriminalized drugs. Instead of being charged as felonies, they were charged as misdemeanors, pushing the charges to the Seattle City Attorney’s office. That office takes drug laws as seriously as Satterberg — that is, not at all.

It didn’t just cause record-high overdose deaths. It also led to a crime surge with addicts breaking into homes, businesses, and cars to help feed their habit. And as these souls are overtaken by their addiction, they can become aggressive and dangerous.

At the same time, Satterberg’s office routinely pleads cases down to less serious charges. It’s the prosecutor’s way of keeping people out of jail for too long.

Rantz: Seattle Judge Lisa Paglisotti keeps releasing dangerous suspects from jail

Judges play a role, too

It’s not merely Satterberg making this region unsafe. Judges are responsible, too.

When prosecutors do their jobs and try to keep dangerous suspects in jail, Seattle judges seem eager to go easy. They consistently offer low bail to suspects charged with serious crimes. Often, it allows the criminals to get out on bail.

Judge Lisa Paglisotti is a proponent of giving criminals second chances.

After setting up a drug deal in Ballard, Seattle officers arrested Thorbjorn Lavern Thoresen. Seattle police say they found the following in his backpack: 176 grams of meth, 66 doses of Suboxone (which is sometimes sold as a heroin substitute), 10 grams of heroin, and 5 grams of mushrooms. They also found over $1,300 in cash and a number of debit cards in other people’s names.

After presenting details of their investigation, the prosecutor wanted Thoresen held. Instead, Paglisotti released him on his own personal recognizance.

King County District Judge pro tem David O set shockingly low bail for two suspects accused in a drive-by shooting against a Renton officer.

According to police documents, Frankie Taijon Robertson is accused of firing 15 rounds at a Renton police officer as she was idling at a stoplight just about a block away from the precinct. Lamonta Joseph Steward was allegedly driving the vehicle. Police say this was a targeted shooting. Both have criminal records.

Prosecutors asked for $1 million for Robertson and $250,000 for Steward. While O found probable cause, he lowered the bail to just $50,000 each.

A better solution to bulletproof glass

I don’t begrudge county employees for wanting bulletproof glass at the courthouse. They want to feel safe. It’s not their fault the prosecutors and judges show no interest in protecting our city.

But the solution to this safety problem is pretty clear: Stop going so easy on criminals. Instead of adopting soft-on-crime policies across the board, Satterberg and judges should better consider the message they’re sending.

I don’t always think jailtime is warranted, even for some felonies. Context matters. If the criminal is prolific — despite multiple attempts to get them on the right path, they continue to break the law — then they shouldn’t only get a slap on the wrist. They should be charged harshly and punished seriously. It’s more important to protect current and future victims, not the degenerate who keeps breaking the law.

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Rantz: Prosecutor wants bulletproof glass to protect from criminals it lets out