Students recognized for essays about body cams.

Students Recognized for Essays About Body Cams


Three Pierce County students were recently named recipients of the 2016 Scott Johnson Open Government Essay Contest.

First place winner and recipient of a $1,000 prize was Kaitlin Christensen, 17, of Graham, a student at Graham-Kapowsin High School also attending Pierce College as a running start student. Runners up were Sadie Culver, 18, also a Pierce College student; and Kaitlan Harbaugh, 17, a student at Gig Harbor High School; each received $100.

Their essays were on the theme “Police body cams, dash cams, and a camera on every street corner: An invasion of privacy or a needed step toward accountability and safety?” and were chosen for honors among 23 entries.

The contest was established in honor of the late Scott Johnson, who was a First Amendment attorney with the Seattle firm Stokes Lawrence and a WCOG board member.


Presenting the awards, from left: Board member Peggy Watt, runner-up Sadie Culver; first-place award-winner Kaitlin Christensen; Board member Karen Peterson. Photo by David Montesino, News-Tribune

“Scott was devoted to educating and empowering young people, and I think would have been proud of the topic, and the entries, received for the essay competition held to honor him,” said Michele Earl-Hubbard, who chaired the essay contest this year. The topic was the result of many conversations with my own high schooler and her friends debating the issues of police accountability, public safety, and privacy. I was curious what high school students across the state thought about these issues, and hoped the competition would encourage them to investigate and explore them. There was no “right” answer. I applaud all of the applicants for their time and energy they put into their submission.”

Essay contest winners received their awards in July at the Tacoma News Tribune, where they also got a tour of the newspaper offices, including a peek at the printing press, from Karen Peterson, executive editor and WCOG board member.


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