Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Going for the Roots

Give Kootenai County Sheriff Rocky Watson credit for both foresight and political courage. According to the Saturday, January 8, 2005, Coeur d'Alene Press (print edition only, not on-line), the sheriff is removing two deputies from the Kootenai County Joint Drug Task Force to prepare them to address the gang problem in Kootenai County. Since there are only two deputies on the task force, he may take some heat for his decision. However, stopping gang activity before it gets established should make the local fight against drugs even more effective. Gang-controlled drug distribution is frighteningly dangerous to the community. Gangs are predatory, frequently violent, criminal enterprises.

As the sheriff acknowledged in the article, gang members have appeared in Kootenai County. With gang members present, we have a gang problem. It may be in its infancy with gangsters temporarily here scouting out their prospective turf and doing their market and risk analyses. That's why the sheriff's decision to prevent the roots of major gang activity from taking hold here is the right one.

Some people in the community may be upset by his detailing two deputies to Spokane County for on-the-job training in Gangs 101. Why? Spokane is a good place to start since gang presence in Kootenai County is almost certainly runoff from Spokane County.

Hopefully the sheriff is still having lunch occasionally with Tom Cronin at the High Mountain Steakhouse and Deli. Chief Cronin's old stomping grounds, the Chicago Police Department, would be an excellent source of instruction on gang activity. So would the California Bureau of Investigation in Attorney General Bill Lockyer's office. His office's Organized Crime - Annual Report to the Legislature 2003 is a primer on organized crime and gang activity.

Communities, particularly elected officials and chambers of commerce concerned about the area's image, often deny having a gang problem. We haven't seen graffiti, we haven't seen folks with prison tats, no one's throwing signs or wearing colors. Nope, no gang problem here. Maybe if we deny it exists, it won't appear. They wish.

Community denial is the fertilizer that helps gang activity grow. The sheriff seems to be trying to develop deputies who can intelligently, factually, and articulately educate the community as well as directly combat emerging gangs. An informed, alert community that knows what to look for and how to report it quickly and accurately is the gang's worst enemy.

The residents of Kootenai County need to be squarely behind Sheriff Watson on this. Today's gangs want our money. They will steal, sell drugs and people, corrupt elected and appointed government officials, and when necessary, kill people to get and keep our money. Some gang members will kill indiscriminately to protect their economic base. Inevitably, when gangs move in, the innocent people in the community are as likely as rival gang members to be the victims of lethal violence.

Gangs can take on many forms. The Compton, California, drug gang members showing up in Spokane are but one. Groups like the Russian Mafia are more subtle but no less insidious or dangerous. No tats, no signs, no colors. They wear suits, have stylish but not flashy cars and homes, and business skills that would qualify them to be executives at General Motors. They tend to avoid overt attributable violence (though they're not above it when necessary) and engage in crimes such as financial cybercrime, complex frauds, and money laundering. Outwardly, they work very hard to appear reputable but not particularly noticeable. Behind the scenes, they're pillaging the community.

Sheriff Watson has said he will evaluate his decision in a few months. He deserves at least that long to develop a preventive strategy for dealing with gang activity in Kootenai County. His investment of two deputies in a proactive law enforcement intelligence effort has the real potential to pay far better dividends than leaving the two deputies on the local drug task force.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok do if the local spokane media is not reporting about any so called russian mafia, and they should be the first to be of known sources....then guess wha....the russian mafia of the northwest or spokane does not exist.........

2:55 AM, August 10, 2011  

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