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 31, 2005

Public Disclosure of Police Investigative Reports

An article headlined Access to records gets another look in the Monday, January 31, 2005, Des Moines Register explains why certain types of police investigative reports ought to be released for public examination.

According to Spokane's KREM-2 television news Sunday night, Kootenai County (Idaho) Prosecuting Attorney Bill Douglas is expected to announce today if there will be any criminal prosecutions resulting from the Grouse Meadows shootings. If he announces there will not be, there is no justifiable reason why the Idaho State Police (ISP) should not release its entire report on the shooting.

The Grouse Meadows investigative report documented a homicide investigation resulting from the wounding of a Coeur d'Alene police officer by an arrestee who was then shot and killed by Kootenai County deputy sheriffs. The investigation was conducted by the ISP. The results were turned over to the Kootenai County Prosecuting Attorney for review to determine if any criminal charges would be filed.

Local newspaper reporting on the shooting story raised reasonable questions about the circumstances that led to the shootings. They are questions that the public and the agencies involved deserve to have answered. Several citizens have severely criticized the accuracy and propriety of the newspaper reporting. The public ought to be able to read, evaluate, and interpret the ISP's report for itself and then compare its own conclusions with the news media's reporting and the agencies' statements.

The public can best judge the performance of its elected and appointed public safety officers and its news media only if the ISP releases the entire report. Neither the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department nor the Coeur d'Alene Police Department should object to the ISP's releasing its report if no criminal prosecutions are planned. The public is entitled to know if the county and city law enforcement officers involved were properly trained and supervised and if their performance was consistent with their training. The public is also entitled to determine if the news media reporting of this incident has been fair and accurate. The ISP report will be the best available evidence for the public to reach its own conclusions.


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