City Council hears why Des Moines Police let suspect go

By Jack Mayne

The unusual event of police letting a “red handed” thief go without arrest was explained by the police chief, and the Des Moines City Council continued preparations for the 2019 budget set for passage before the end of the year.

Mayor Matt Pina told the Council he had seen an exchange on the website about police letting a person go on North Hill after a person had been “caught red handed,” and said he would have been “very surprised” if that were the case so he asked Police Chief Ken Thomas to elaborate.

“We did catch him red handed and did let the suspect go. It made sense,” Thomas said. “In order for us to get successful prosecution, we need cooperation from the witnesses and the victims. Although the person that broke into the car took a jacket, the victim of that refused to cooperate with the officers and did not want to have the person charged with a crime.”

Thomas said “technically we probably could have pushed it through, but in reality it is not a wise use of our court system so the officer used discretion.” The chief added the officer did a complete police report but he said he “believed our officers acted appropriately and did the best with the circumstances they had.”

Pina said city officials often say to citizens “if you see something happen, call 911, but you need to be willing to say ‘I want to press charges’ and that is a tough situation for some people. We expect our officers to do a great many things and if we want them to be successful at doing what they can to remove and eliminate crime in our neighborhoods, we have to be willing to stand with them.”

Thomas said the fact a person did call and officers went to the scene, “we now have that person identified, we know who they are and if there are any other issues that go on in that area, we know where to go looking, so I never want to discourage anybody in any way — although we really want your cooperation, we still want you to call, we need the information and that data, and that could go to solving additional crimes.”

Budget, police dog
The Council has again been told by the mayor and by City Manager Michael Matthias that the city budget is solid and sustainable an it is slated for November public hearings.

The mayor introduced new Highline College President John Mosby, who told the Council he now lives in Des Moines and is enjoying his new career at Highline. He became Highline’s seventh president in July.

Yvonne Nutting and other Des Moines Police Foundation board members presented a check for $12,000 to the city to help purchase a police dog for the police department. Nutting said Resurrection Lutheran Church donated over $4,000 to the chaplaincy fund and overall the Foundation raised a total of $32,000 at the auction this year.

The Council accepted a $65,000 grant from the Washington Safety Commission for its city run Driving Under the Influence court started in 2017 and meets bi-weekly to review potential ways to reduced multiple cases of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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