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.”

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NBA arena
5:55 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Should Seattle vote on NBA arena? Port calls it a 'job killer'

The proposed site for a new NBA arena in Seattle.

Port officials say placing a new sports arena in Seattle's SoDo neighborhood without significant transportation improvements would be a "job killer." And one King County councilman wondered if area residents shouldn't vote on the idea.

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law enforcement
5:08 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

Officer, do you need a nap? Police overtime questioned

Should police be giving time to take power naps?
Tom Flickr

Is a community at risk when cops don’t get enough sleep? Washington State University researcher Bryan Vila says it is. In a briefing before the King County Council, he said there are hazards associated with overworked officers.

He says lack of sleep affects your ability to think clearly and problem solve and do other things law enforcement needs to be skilled at, such as:

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Seattle shooting
6:24 pm
Wed June 6, 2012

Seattle: Make gun offenders register like sex offenders?

Just like a sex offender, once you are released from prison on a gun violation, you would be classified as either a Level I, Level I or Level III offender.
Zoren Deneu Flickr

Sex offenders have to register when they get out of prison in Washington. So why shouldn’t people who commit a violent crime with a gun have to do the same?

It’s an idea being floated by the Seattle Police Department.

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Seattle shootings
4:00 pm
Mon June 4, 2012

Seattle looking into surveillance tech. to tamp down gun violence

This is a diagram of the ShotSpotter system in action provided by the company.

(Updated with audio story, attached.)

Seattle has had it with the flare of gunfire lighting up its streets – and that’s driving city leaders to pull out the stops to find solutions.

More aggressive search and seizures, stiffer local gun laws, increased police patrols, video cameras and now a technology that registers where a gun is fired in the city and notifies police seconds after the shooting – these are some of the tools Seattle officials are looking at to tamp down the violence.

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Crime
3:13 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

Improved fingerprinting system catches more criminals

Officials in King County say the adoption of a more advanced Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) a year ago has led to additional crimes being solved.

The regional AFIS is paid for through a property tax levy.  It costs the average homeowner in King County about $20 a year.

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Tuition hikes
1:20 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

Could rising costs put community college out of reach?

"A lot of students have to go one quarter, then stop and work to save up money to go another quarter." Daniel Jean Baptiste
Paula Wissel KPLU

 It used to be if you can't go to a four year school, go to community college.  Now, it's like what are you supposed to do if you can't go to community college?   

  Daniel Jean Baptiste, South Seattle Community College student 

Tuition will go up at the state's public two-year colleges by an average of 12 percent this fall.  For a full-time student, tuition will go from $3,542 to $4,000--a 13 percent increase.

The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges voted on the increase to help offset $110 million in state cuts to the community and technical colleges. 

Many students, already struggling to afford school, say it threatens to put higher education out of reach.

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Amazon
5:24 pm
Thu May 10, 2012

Warehouse workers protest at Amazon corporate offices

Former Amazon warehouse worker, Karen Salasky, addresses protesters at Amazon headquarters.
Paula Wissel KPLU

Amazon will be having its annual shareholder meeting in Seattle on May 24 and Seattle area unions are gearing up. Today, they staged a protest in the plaza below Amazon's new headquarters buildings in the South Lake Union neighborhood.

It was something of a forerunner to a rally planned for the upcoming meeting.  Several union activists carried signs that read,

"Hello, Amazon, see you on May 24."

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Gangs
5:05 pm
Wed May 9, 2012

ACLU opposes King County anti-gang proposal

A proposal to fight gangs in King County is coming under fire from civil liberties groups. Among other things, a proposed county ordinance would make it illegal to coerce someone into joining a gang.

King County Council members says they want to make the county unfriendly to gangs, but there isn't agreement on how to do that.

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Cruise ships
12:05 pm
Mon May 7, 2012

Cruise ships sailing from Seattle to Alaska down from 2010 peak

ms Oosterdam at Smith Cove Cruise Terminal in Seattle
Peter McGraw Port of Seattle

The number of cruise ships sailing to Alaska from Seattle remains down from the peak of two years ago.  In 2010, 223 ships made the trip.  This year, 202 ships will sail from Seattle.  It's a slight uptick from last year when 196 ships used Seattle as a homeport during the summer Alaska cruising season.

The Port of Seattle says  revenue from the cruise business remains strong .

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I Wonder Why ... ?
1:38 am
Fri May 4, 2012

Why the Alaskan fishing fleet is based in Seattle

AP Photo

On the reality TV show “The Deadliest Catch,” you see the crew of the Northwestern enduring storms and other dangers while crab fishing in the Bering Sea in the middle of winter.

You might be surprised to learn that the Northwestern and the hundreds of other boats that make up the North Pacific Fishing Fleet are not based in Alaska. Rather, they travel thousands of miles south each year to tie up in Seattle.

So, why is the fleet based here? There certainly are more convenient ports closer to the fishing grounds. The reasons have to do with water, weather and people. Oh, and tradition plays a part.

Read more on I Wonder Why ...?

May Day protests
2:17 pm
Mon April 30, 2012

Tensions mount in Seattle on brink of May Day protests

Posters like this one and other information has some in Seattle concerned that tomorrow's May Day protests could get out of hand.
Erin Hennessey KPLU

From Mayor Mike McGinn worrying about violence to a guy on the street wondering if the ferries will run, tensions in Seattle are mounting over May Day protests.

Groups are planning May Day marches in Seattle to protest capitalism, immigration laws and labor practices, but the most consistent rallying cry is for a “general strike.” How many people will go on “strike,” how many will show up to rally and whether there will be an outbreak of violence on the streets are unknowns.

And that uncertainty appears to be jangling some nerves in the city.

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Phone Books
4:30 am
Tue April 24, 2012

Choosing to opt-out, fewer residents getting phone book

More than 20 percent of households and businesses in Seattle are opting out of phone books.

One year ago, the city implemented an opt-out program that includes fines for publishers that fail to honor opt-out requests.

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World's Fair
1:36 pm
Mon April 23, 2012

Art installations part of World's Fair celebration

Mandy Greer's crocheted river is above the fountain in the Alki Courtyard.
Paula Wissel KPLU

Dozens of works of art and performance art pieces have been commissioned for the months-long celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of  the 1962 World's Fair.

Wander around the Seattle Center campus and you're likely to encounter one of the temporary art installations. 

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Seattle Public Schools
4:39 pm
Thu April 19, 2012

Seattle Schools names three finalists for superintendent job

All 3 candidates for Superintendent of  Seattle Public Schools have classroom as well as superintendent experience.   The finalists will be in Seattle next week for interviews.

The finalists are:

Jose Banda, 55, is a former high school principal who now heads the Anaheim City School District, a district that just includes elementary schools.  84 percent of the students in the district are Latino and Banda  is bilingual. 

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Crime
4:59 pm
Wed April 18, 2012

Does crime pay? Most car thieves, burglars get away in Washington

"Nineteen of 20 car thieves aren’t caught, four of five criminals who commit other types of thefts aren’t caught and more than two of three robbers get away with it, said a data expert.
Ken Flickr

In Washington, it appears crime does pay for some criminals.

The chance of a being arrested for stealing a car or burglarizing a house is pretty low. That’s what nine years of crime statistics from the Office of Financial Management show.

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