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Region in brief: Lakewood officers’ families filing claims against county

Fri., April 9, 2010

TACOMA – The families of three Lakewood police officers slain as they sat in a coffee shop in November are expected to file claims against Pierce County for $134 million.

The News Tribune newspaper of Tacoma reports that the claims, which are the first step toward filing a lawsuit, are to be filed today.

The families of officers Mark Renninger, Ronald Owens and Greg Richards contend the county should have done more to keep Maurice Clemmons locked up. Clemmons was in and out of jail in the months before the shootings and threatened to kill jail staff during one of his bookings.

Clemmons also made several recorded phone calls from the Pierce County Jail in which he spoke of killing police. Such calls are not routinely monitored.

Clemmons killed the three officers, plus Officer Tina Griswold, as they sat in a coffee shop on Nov. 29. A lone Seattle patrolman killed Clemmons two days later, following a frantic manhunt.

The widows of Richards and Renninger told KOMO-TV they hope their claim will force the county to make changes that could prevent similar tragedies in the future.

Detective Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, told the station that the amount of money the families are seeking is “quite shocking.” He said there was no way the county could have kept Clemmons in jail after he made bail.

Troyer said it was “preposterous” to think that the county could have listened to every phone call made from the jail.

That would take 40 people and cost an estimated $50 million per year, he said.

Ranger district hosts meetings on travel plan

The Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District is hosting two open houses to answer questions about the district’s new motorized travel plan.

Wednesday’s open house takes place at the Idaho Panhandle National Forests’ Supervisor’s Office, 3815 Schreiber Way in Coeur d’Alene. On Thursday, another open house will be at the district’s Silver Valley office, 173 Commerce Drive, Smelterville. Both run from 4 to 7 p.m.

Free maps of the motorized travel routes will be available at the meetings. The map can also be picked up at the district office, 2502 E. Sherman Ave.

The majority of the motorized routes remain unchanged in the district, with a few minor alterations, said Randy Swick, district ranger. For more information, call (208) 664-2318.

Bellingham police warn of possible cyanide vial

BELLINGHAM – Bellingham police aren’t positive it exists, but they’re warning residents not to pick up a five-inch plastic vial with a blue cap if they see one on a city street. Police say a transient with mental health issues may have dropped the vial and it may contain potassium cyanide, a toxic compound.

The man told police he had the cyanide because he wanted to kill himself. He was treated for unspecified medical issues last weekend at St. Joseph Hospital and spoke with police about the vial Tuesday night.

Police have searched his campsite and the likely route he was walking when he thinks the vial fell out of his pants pocket last Saturday evening.

Lt. Steve Felmley says police are asking people to be vigilant because the man’s story is “believable enough that we want to take it seriously.”


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