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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Paula Wissel

Those quaint streetlights that grace some neighborhood business districts in Seattle may be history.  Seattle City Light wants to limit the installation of decorative streetlights in the future.  This comes in the wake of the city’s ongoing inspection of light poles, some of which have been emitting dangerous levels of electricity.

Gary Davis

Seattle’s ongoing inspection of streetlights has turned up more dangerous structures.  But city officials insist the potential harm to people and pets is minimal. 

Seattle City Light began testing all 30 thousand metal lights and sidewalk covers after a dog was electrocuted on Queen Anne Hill in November.  The metal plate the dog stepped on was emitting 90 volts of electricity.  Frayed wires were the problem.  

A victim of domestic violence can seek a restraining order against an abusive spouse.  But how about allowing a city to get a restraining order against a street gang?

Washington State Coalition for Mental Health Reporting

Mental health advocates say news stories of social service budge cuts are unfairly stereotyping people who suffer from mental illness.

They say a case in point is a recent cover of The Stranger, which included the headline "How a decimated state budget equals more unmedicated loons with hatchets."

Your Christmas tree can take on new life as wood chips or compost.  In Seattle and Tacoma, you can recycle your tree for free. 


Slow down and move over.  That’s the message from the Washington State Patrol as a new law goes into effect.  It’s meant to better protect troopers and emergency workers who handle car accidents.  

Gary Davis/KPLU

You may be drying out from the weekend rain storms. But city officials in Seattle are thinking about snow.  They’re learning lessons from the snowstorm in November that turned roads into ice rinks and made for paralyzing commutes.

Courtesy WSDOT

The Seattle Mayor is continuing to question plans to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel.  This follows last week’s announcement from the state that the contractor could finish the project under budget and ahead of schedule. 


A man was shot by Seattle police near a bus stop at Third Avenue and Yesler Way around 10 p.m. Tuesday.  Police say the man, estimated to be in his late 30s, was about to grab a handgun out of his waistband when he was shot.  He's in serious condition in the intensive-care unit and is expected to survive, according to Harborview spokeswoman Susan Gregg-Hanson.

Washington state ranks 11th among all states in overall health according to the  annual survey   "America's Health Rankings."  The survey is produced by the American Public Health Association, the United Health Foundation and Parnership for Prevention using data from a number of sources including the Centers for Disease Control.

Regional Animal Services of King County

The King County animal shelter  in Kent has temporarily suspended the acceptance of adult cats.  The shelter is trying to reduce its population in preparation for possible flooding along the Green River.   In the event of a flood,  the animals will have to be evacuated to another facility.

Department of Homeland Security

Next time you walk into a Walmart store, you might see the head of the U-S Department of Homeland Security.  Secretary Janet Napolitano has recorded video messages that are being aired inside Walmart stores in 27 states, including Washington.

Seattle police are tweeting for stolen cars.  They’re using Twitter to get the word out whenever a theft is reported. Police say making use of the popular social networking site just makes sense. 

The mentally ill man charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of  Joseph LaMagno on Capitol Hill on Nov. 22 is a suspect in an earlier killing. 

Paula Wissel/KPLU

A lesbian flight nurse says she's anxiously waiting to rejoin her unit in the U.S. Air Force reserve.  Major Margaret Witt was discharged in 2004 under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Federal law enforcement investigators say they're closing in on an international thief who electronically ripped off hundreds of residents in a Seattle neighborhood.   

King County Budget
King County Television

The King County Council has voted for a lean 2011 budget that slashes 300 positions, many in law enforcement. Even some council members acknowledge it could hurt public safety.

Gary Davis/KPLU photo.

 Seattle says it can handle the snow this time around.  In 2008, the city was paralyzed by a series of storms.  Buses didn’t run, sidewalks were caked with ice and streets weren’t passable for more than a week.

Reports after the fact showed the city was unprepared. Snow routes weren’t plowed.  There was a communication breakdown between Seattle Department of Transportation and Metro Transit officials.

The city’s poor response to the snow storm is often credited with the defeat of former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels.

FBI photo.

Does Seattle have more child prostitutes than other cities? During a three-day crackdown, the FBI picked up more young prostitutes in this area than anyplace else. But, there could be another reason for the high number.

The latest FBI sweep, called Operation Cross Country V, resulted in the arrest of 99 pimps. Agents also rescued 69 teenage prostitutes. Twenty-three of them were from our area, in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

WS History Museum

Today marks the 100th anniversary of a woman's right to vote in Washington State.  A day-long series of events is planned for  Olympia. The Washington State Historical Socety and the Women’s History Consortium have teamed up with  Secretary of State Sam Reed and the Interagency Committee for State Employed Women (ICSEW) on a full day of commemorative moments at the Temple of Justice (home of the State Supreme Court), the Capitol Building and Legislative buildings.

AP photo.

You've heard the complaints about ballot initiatives. Is it right that a corporation with a lot of money can get one on the ballot? And are we, the voters, really qualified to be deciding complicated things like tax policy? But, the KCTS 9 - KPLU - Washington Poll shows that voters in Washington are generally happy with the initiative process.

Here's the question that was put to voters:   Overall, do you think that statewide initiative elections are a good thing for the state, a bad thing or don't make much difference?

Flickr photo by Manuel W.

Three inmates have committed suicide in the King County jail in the past few weeks. The latest was a 33 year old man who died at Harborview Medical Center. The robbery suspect was found hanging in his cell on September 20.

The King County Correctional Facility has been cited in the past for failing to prevent suicide.

Back in 2007, the United States Department of Justice investigated the King County jail and issued a blistering report saying safety and health conditions were so substandard that they amounted to a violation of inmates civil rights.