Paula Wissel

Law & Justice Reporter

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KPLU since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KPLU, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.

Paula's most memorable moment at KPLU: “Interviewing NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr about his ability to put current events in historical context. It’s something I aspire to.”

Ways To Connect

Courtesy of Zach Powers / Pacific Lutheran University

Lt. Col. Celia FlorCruz, 55, has done a lot in her life. She graduated from West Point at a time when women were just being allowed in. She flew a Medevac helicopter in a war zone. She’s now a top officer at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and is married to JBLM I Corps Deputy Commander Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl.

What she’s never done, until now, is speak about her personal experience as a victim of sexual assault, both in college and in the U.S. Army. 

Paula Wissel / KPLU

Heroin deaths are on the rise in Washington and a high percentage of the overdoses are in people under 30. One Seattle mother wants to help put a human face to that statistic.

Speaking before a Heroin and Opioid Overdose Summit at the University of Washington, former news anchor Penny LeGate shared her heartbreak over her own daughter’s death. Listen to her story:

Although there’s a law on the books in Washington that allows child victims of sexual abuse to testify remotely, a state lawmaker says the option isn’t being used often enough.

State Rep. Lilian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, is also a mental health counselor. For years, she’s worked with child victims of sexual abuse.

Scott Davidson / Flickr

Even with all the talk about police misconduct, a bill in the Washington legislature could result in less discipline for cops accused of bad behavior.

When a cop is put on the stand as a witness for the prosecution during a trial, if there’s anything in the officer’s background indicating a lack of truthfulness or bias or misconduct, the prosecution is required to let the defense team know about it since it could help clear the accused.

Paula Wissel

The Space Needle corporation engaged in unfair labor practices, according to a ruling from a three-member panel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The ruling was issued on Friday, Jan. 30.

This is the latest decision in what’s been a two-year battle between the Seattle icon and its bartenders, servers, cooks and other unionized workers.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Leading up to the Super Bowl on Sunday, there have been lots of rallies for the Seahawks. One of the most unusual took place in the Burke Museum, a natural history museum on the University of Washington campus.  

Rogelio V. Solix / AP Photo

DNA preservation in felony cases is something 35 states require, but Washington state isn’t one of them. A bill being considered in Olympia would change that.

Seattle's Rain Art

Jan 24, 2015
Courtesy of Peregrine Church

Next time you’re walking on a sidewalk in Seattle and it’s raining, look down. You just might see a message reveal itself.

At least that’s the intention of a 21-year-old magician who has created unusual sidewalk art. His stenciled messages are only visible when it’s wet outside.

Read the story and see a map of the artwork on Quirksee.org >>>

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Death penalty cases in Washington state cost the public one-and-a-half times as much as those where capital punishment isn’t on the table, Seattle University researchers have found.

The seven-month study was authored by Seattle University professors Robert Boruchowitz of the School of Law and Peter Collins of the criminal justice department.

Malcolm Griffes / KPLU

The Food and Drug Administration FDA is proposing ending the lifetime ban on gay blood donors. But even if such is the case, there would still be restrictions. And that disappoints activists who’ve been pushing for change.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

It’s been nearly two months since the deadly shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School. Five students died, including the 15-year-old gunman.

Since then, 68 families have turned to the state of Washington for financial help to deal with the tragedy. They've received $23,000 from Washington’s Crime Victim Compensation Fund.

Sean_Marshall / Flickr

The cremated remains of 23 people will be scattered on the waters of Puget Sound on Thursday. The Pierce County medical examiner says all the ashes are either unwanted, or friends and relatives of the deceased could not be found.

As the list of the deceased indicates, some of the cases go back decades.

Paula Wissel

The National Security Agency’s bulk collection of cell phone data is at the heart of a case before the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments were heard Monday in Seattle.

The plaintiff is an unlikely candidate to take on the U.S. government. Anna Smith is a nurse and mom who lives in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Paula Wissel

Seattle police promise to do a better job of dealing with property crime.

They acknowledge current response times are too slow. When someone calls 911, it can take 45 minutes for an officer to be dispatched to the scene of a burglary or car prowl.

Charlie Riedel / AP Photo

Federal officials have arrested a Washington state man for allegedly posting Internet threats to kill the police officer who shot and killed a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.

Paula Wissel

About 100 people gathered at Westlake Park on Monday for a peaceful protest in response to a grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson, a white police officer, in the death of Michael Brown, a black man, in Ferguson, Missouri.

Jim Mone / AP Photo

 

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson says police don't need permission to record their interactions with citizens using cameras worn on their uniforms.

In an opinion issued Monday, Ferguson says interactions with on-duty police are presumed to be public, and therefore officers are under no obligation to turn off the cameras if people object to being recorded — even if the conversation is being recorded in someone's home.

The Urban Rest Stop, which has been serving the homeless population in Seattle for 15 years, recently faced a possible loss of one-third of its budget. But the Seattle City Council voted instead to continue full funding.

I toured the facility with Urban Rest Stop program director Ronni Gilboa. Here's a two-minute recap of what it's like there:

Gilboa, who was the director when the program started in 1999, says she's never wanted to leave.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

State health officials are putting a positive spin on the bumpy rollout of the state’s health insurance exchange.

Over the weekend, the Washington Healthplanfinder website shut down just a few hours after it opened for business. It’s now back online after a glitch involving tax credit calculations was fixed.

Domestic violence calls are some of the toughest police face. Emotions are usually running high and often there’s a weapon in the mix.

On Thursday in Seattle’s City Hall, some domestic violence first responders will be honored for  extraordinary service.

David Sullivan is one of the responders:

Sullivan and the other first responders will be honored Thursday in the Bertha Knight Landes Room in Seattle City Hall at 10 a.m.

Tent cities would be allowed to stay longer on land in King County under a proposal before the King County Council.

Under current law, the homeless encampments are required to move every three months. A King County ordinance would extend that to four months.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Washington voters have overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to expand background checks for person-to-person gun sales and transfers. Initiative 594 passed with 60 percent of the vote.

At the I-594 victory party in Seattle, campaign manager Zach Silk fired up the crowd.

“Washington state has voted yes on 594 and closed the background check loophole,” Silk said.

Paula Wissel

In the wake of Friday’s deadly shooting, a makeshift memorial site is taking shape at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. A long chain-link fence is now covered with balloons, ribbons and flowers. But there’s something unusual about this memorial site.

Paula Wissel

In the wake of Friday’s deadly shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, some Native children in the district have received threats, according to the Tulalip Tribes.

Tribal member Jaylen Fryberg killed himself after shooting five friends, killing two of them. In a statement, the tribes said some kids are fearful of returning to school, and some parents are reluctant to send them.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Parents and officials gathered Tuesday to discuss the aftermath of Friday’s shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School that left three students dead, including the gunman, and three others injured.

Parents listened as Tulalip tribal leaders, school district officials and law enforcement officials spoke. The main message: If we stay united, we’ll get through this together.

Women who work at Dream Girls at Foxes, a strip club in Tacoma, don’t want Pierce County to release personal information about them. They say doing so would violate their right to privacy.

But the Pierce County auditor says Washington’s Public Records Act requires her to release information contained in the women’s business licenses on file with the county.

Seth Perlman / AP Photo

There are two gun initiatives on the Washington ballot. Initiative 594 and Initiative 591 both have to do with background checks on gun buyers.

The battle over the initiatives is a classic fight between gun control advocates who say more regulation will limit gun violence and gun rights activists who fear a loss of their Second Amendment “right to bear arms.”

Tetona Dunlap / AP Photo

Nervous air travelers might know Sea-Tac International Airport doesn’t have any flights to or from Africa. What it does have is a quarantine station that’s prepared to stop the spread of contagious diseases, such as Ebola.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has 20 quarantine stations around the U.S. In Seattle, the station is located at Sea-Tac, and it’s not new. 

duncan C / Flickr

Seattle thinks it knows its coffee. After all, it's the birthplace of Starbucks, and neighborhoods with two or three coffeehouses per block are not uncommon.

So you’d think the new director of Seattle Opera, Aidan Lang, would be happy. He’s a self-described coffee lover. But Lang says what we’re missing is a drink that’s taking the world by storm called a "flat white."

So we set out to find out what a flat white is, and where we can find it in Seattle. Click play below to hear what we found.

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