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, February 28, 2005

Jail Inmate Suicides

It's a brief article, fewer than 75 words and without much detail, headlined Inmate hangs self in jail cell on page A7 of The Spokesman Review on Monday, February 28, 2005. It will probably be overlooked by most readers, ho-hummed by others. Just another inmate suicide in the Kootenai County Jail. Not our problem, not our concern, we probably didn't even know the guy. Somebody did, but we probably didn't. (Reading the linked article may require subscription to The Spokesman Review or to its online site.) Not surprisingly, the Coeur d'Alene Press made no mention of it in Monday's paper.

Jail inmate suicides usually do not get much news attention unless the subsequent investigation reveals criminal misconduct or negligence by jailers. But today's New York Times has a fascinating article In City's Jails, Missed Signals Open Way to Season of Suicides by Paul vonZielbauer. (Reading the linked articles may require free registration on the New York Times online site.)

The New York Times' article is worth reading -- and thinking about.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Violence Against Women: Identifying Risk Factors

The November 2004 National Institute of Justice Research in Brief entitled Violence Against Women: Identifying Risk Factors examines two studies to determine if there is a correlation between childhood physical and sexual abuse and similar abuse as an adult.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Dear Idaho Sheriffs Association Members:

Concerning your proposed amendment to Idaho Code 34-618 to require deputies and jailers to take unpaid leaves of absence if they become candidates against you:

Ask your lobbyist and attorney Michael Kane to read a bill pending in the US House of Representatives. The bill he should read is H.R. 354, the State and Local Law Enforcement Discipline, Accountability, and Due Process Act of 2005 .

In particular, he should read Section 820(c)(2)(B) which states, "A law enforcement officer shall not be...required to resign or take an unpaid leave from employment with a law enforcement agency to be a candidate for an elective office or to serve in an elective office, unless such service is determined to be in conflict with or incompatible with service as a law enforcement officer."

Seems pretty clear, doesn't it, that at least Representative Jim Ramstad (MN-3) and eight cosponsors are against the stunt you are trying to pull? Now we'll see what the House Judiciary Committee has to say about it. I hope that Idaho's state legislators will see your manipulative legislation for what it is: An effort to get the legislature to do your dirty work for you.

But take heart! There may be a glimmer of good news for you in the proposed federal legislation. If the federal legislation passes as written, it won't take effect until two years after the date of enactment or the conclusion of the second legislative session of the State that begins on or after the date of enactment, whichever is sooner. So, if you work really quickly, you may have nearly three years to trample on the civil rights of your deputies and jailers.

Of course, you now have the opportunity to lobby your federal representatives to kill the offending section of the proposed federal law. In fact, why don't you try and have the whole
kit'n'kaboodle killed. Darned pesky federal legislation anyway!

Sadly, I'm sure you will try.

(Addendum: The link to H.R. 354 was replaced on February 27, 2005, at 2: 19 P.M. The original link produced an error message).

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

It's (Probably) Not a Flying Saucer

If in the near future you happen to be up along the Canadian border and see what appears to be an unidentified flying object...smile. You may be on candid camera...mounted on a US government unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

It has evidently finally dawned on some of our legislators that the technology being used to gather data and images in Iraq and Iran (remember their flying saucer scare several weeks ago) might be able to help protect our own borders. (That revelation qualifies for a "Duh!")

On February 7, 2005, The Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, released a six-page report for Congress entitled Homeland Security: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Border Security. This report examines the strengths and weaknesses of deploying UAVs along our borders, particularly in areas especially difficult for human agents to monitor. It also discusses the issues Congress will have to consider in making the decision to deploy or not.

Though civil liberties are a big concern whenever spy technology is deployed, the use of UAVs has a lot of potential in non-law enforcement areas. For example, it seems to me that a UAV equipped with appropriate sensors could fly over a major forest fire at lower altitudes in conditions of more limited visibility to gather and send back critical data about the fire. If a UAV can operate in more hostile environments to gather and transmit more timely data safer than a manned aircraft, it seems like a worthwhile investment.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Expert Witness: What Is It?

In the aftermath of the Grouse Meadows shootings on December 28, both local newspapers sought comments from "experts." The Spokesman Review contacted Dr. Geoffrey Alpert, the Chairman of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of South Carolina. The Coeur d'Alene Press contacted Mr. Tad Leach, Instructor/Coordinator for the Law Enforcement Program at North Idaho College.

In his curriculum vitae Dr. Alpert does not disclose that he has been an expert witness in court. In his resume, Mr. Leach proclaims "Expert Witness in law enforcement issues, including use of force (Federal and Idaho State Court recognized)."

So what is an "expert witness?" What does it mean to be recognized as an "expert witness"?

Most witnesses in court are "lay witnesses". A lay witness's testimony is nearly always limited to facts within his own knowledge, observation, and recollection. He is usually (but not always) prohibited from offering his opinion or drawing conclusions.

But the courts have recognized that sometimes trial testimony can be so technical or unusual that juries (the trier of fact) may benefit from some help in understanding the evidence or determining a fact in issue. If the trial court recognizes that a proposed expert witness has specialized knowledge relevant to the issue, the court may in its discretion allow the expert witness to render an opinion or draw a conclusion.

The rules defining the use of expert witnesses in federal courts are found in The Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE), specifically Rules 701-706. The rules pertaining to the use of expert witnesses in Idaho courts are found in The Idaho Rules of Evidence (IRE), specifically Rules 701-706. Both FRE 702 and IRE 702 explain when expert testimony is permitted.

Notice that neither the FRE nor the IRE precisely defines what an expert is. That determination is within the court's discretion. Both FRE 702 and IRE 702 use the terms "a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training,or education" to guide the court. But ultimately, it is up to the court to decide if an offered witness qualifies as an "expert."

From the generalized guidance and discretion given to the courts, it should be clear that the court's recognition of someone as an "expert" applies only in that court in that particular case. To put it another way, someone who testifies as an expert witness may be an "expert" only in the eyes of that court but no one else. The person allowed to testify as an expert in one trial may be rejected in another one.

And that leads to the second question, "What does it mean to be recognized as an expert witness?" It means that one particular court in one particular case has examined the qualifications of a person offered as an expert witness and found that witness to be qualified to offer an opinion or conclusion in his area of expertise on the evidence he has examined in that case. That someone may have been recognized as an expert witness in one or a thousand trials is comparatively meaningless to the next trial court. "Expert witness" is not a credential that extends beyond the court which allowed the person to testify as an expert.

For an interesting Idaho case involving expert testimony, see State of Idaho v. Craig T. Perry.

Persons who market themselves as expert witnesses need to be very careful when they're making out-of-court public statements (e.g., to the press, in journals, books, etc.). This is particularly true if the statements reveal information or methods of investigation that would generally impugn the witness's credibility in subsequent trials.

Monday, February 21, 2005

The Incumbent (Sheriff) Protection Act of 2005

On Monday, February 21, 2005, The Spokesman Review ran an article headlined Sheriff's bill triggers debate.

The bill is sponsored by the Idaho Sheriff's Association. If passed, it would amend section 34-618, Idaho Code, to provide that when a county deputy sheriff or jailer has filed a declaration of candidacy for the position of county sheriff in the same county where he or she is employed as a county deputy sheriff or jailer and where the county sheriff has filed his or her declaration of candidacy for reelection to the position of county sheriff, the county deputy sheriff or jailer shall take a leave of absence from his or her county position on the day following the last day to declare candidacy and to provide for reinstatement after the primary or general election when the person is no longer a candidate for the office against an incumbent sheriff.

This amendment, along with its Statement of Purpose/Fiscal Impact, is available on the State of Idaho website.

The Statement of Purpose has some arguments that appear valid but fail upon closer examination. The first statement, "Police agencies are quasi-military organizations," does not explain "quasi-military" nor show its relevance in support of the proposition.

Perhaps the second statement, "When a deputy sheriff runs against the sheriff who is running for re-election, discipline, confidentiality, confidence and trust break down dramatically," is intended to bolster the first. But it would be equally valid for a prospective candidate to argue that failing to address existing breakdowns in discipline, confidentiality, confidence and trust is precisely the underlying reason for replacing the incumbent sheriff. Thus, it seems that the Idaho Sheriff's Association members could use the proposed amendment to stifle public disclosure of serious internal problems. The Idaho Sheriff's Association is right on one count: A deputy or jailer still "on the inside" is in a much better position than one on the outside to expose incompetence and corruption. Maybe that's what the Association fears most.

The third statement, "The deputy is in a position to file civil rights
actions against the sheriff for any discipline issued on the theory that the sheriff is engaging in pretextual discipline in order to violate the deputy's free speech rights," however, may really disclose what the Idaho Sheriff's Association also fears. Some internal practices are retaliatory and will not stand up under impartial federal court scrutiny. Unless these illegal practices are occurring, the incumbent sheriff can be helped rather than harmed by such actions. After all, if the federal court rules that the deputy's or jailer's allegation is not only unfounded but frivolous, it dismisses the suit with prejudice and the incumbent sheriff's prospective opponent is discredited.

But this amendment should fail for another reason. It not only gives an unfair advantage to the incumbent sheriff, it gives an outside candidate an advantage over the deputy or jailer as well. The law discriminates unfairly and arbitrarily against employees of the incumbent sheriff's department, because it applies only to those employees, not to outsiders.

And finally, the amendment should fail if any deputy or jailer in any department is prohibited by departmental policy from holding outside employment. By prohibiting outside employment and simultaneously imposing an unpaid leave of absence on a deputy or jailer, the Idaho Sheriff's Association members are using departmental regulations as an economic weapon to stifle internal candidacies. That is inherently unfair.

Post-9/11 Port Security - Where the Money's Going and Why It Shouldn't Be

On Sunday, February 20, 2005, the New York Times published an article headlined Audit Faults U.S. for Its Spending on Port Defense. (Reading the article online my require registration to the New York Times online, but registration is free.)

The New York Times article was based on information contained in a Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General document entitled Review of the Port Security Grant Program. The study was released in January 2005, but its data was gathered between December 2003 and May 2004. (Fair Warning: This study is overpopulated with acronyms and bureaucratese, the stuff Inside-the-Beltway types thrive on.)

The Port Security Grant Program (PSGP) was created to improve the security at strategically important US ports. A port is stragetically important if its operation is critical to accomplishing national priorities. To date, the PSGP has awarded over $560 million to over 1,200 projects. The review was intended to determine if that money had been well spent and to make recommendations for improving future spending.

Some of the review committee's findings include:

  1. The current design of the PSGP compromises its ability to direct resources toward the nation's highest priorities.
  2. The PSGP is faced with competing pressures of ofsetting the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 while making competitive and risk based grant decisions to protect the nation's most critical ports and port facilities.
  3. The PSGP did not have the benefit of national key asset and critical infrastructure protection information now being developed by the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection (IAIP) Directorate. The PSGP and the IAIP didn't collaborate.
  4. Grant award decisions are made with the intent of expending all available funding and spreading funds to as many applicants as possible. Field evaluations of specific programs were frequently overruled by headquarters reviewers.
  5. Private entities (as opposed to public port authorities) applied for and received funding. Public dollars were spent to benefit private entities. In part, this was because it was difficult to determine where the private sector's responsibility for preventing terorism ends and where the federal government's responsibility begins.
  6. At each level of the application and review process, reviewers were challenged to meet short deadlines to evaluate, rate, and rank projects. This affected reviewers' ability to document thoroughly their decisions and made subsequent levels of review more difficult.
  7. After three rounds of the PSGP, recipients had spent only a small portion of the amount awarded. As a result, the majority of projects funded have not been completed and the program has not yet achieved its intended results in actual improvements to port security.

The Inspector General's report includes detailed recommendations to correct the deficiencies it found.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Staff Inspection

My February 17, 2005, post discussed the criminal investigations, administrative investigations, internal affairs investigations, or special inspections that follow an extreme incident such as an officer-involved shooting. However, competent law enforcement administrators realize that prevention is always preferable to remediation. In other words, find and correct a potential problem before the organic fertilizer hits the spinning impeller.

The usual preventive method is the staff inspection. The December 2004 issue of The Police Chief magazine, published by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), included an article entitled Staff Inspection: A Strong Administrative Tool. The article was authored by John Fuller, Curriculum Writer, Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commission.

In the introductory paragraphs, Mr. Fuller identifies the staff inspection as a "proactive practice" that can head off problems "...before the problems generate negative media attention and community criticism."

Mr. Fuller goes on to discuss the benefits of staff inspections, the types of inspections, the selection and training of inspectors, the inspection process, the conduct of staff interviews, the inspection report, and a determination of what to inspect.

The linked article ought to be read not only by law enforcement administrators and supervisors but also by the public at large. The article is a thumbnail sketch of what the public should expect from its law enforcement administrators and supervisors.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Law Enforcement Leadership

Twin Falls, Idaho, Police Chief Leland (Lee) DeVore wrote an outstanding article entitled How to Become a Leader in Your Organization. It was published in the June 2002, Vol. 2 issue of "Bulletin", an Idaho Peace Officer Standard and Training (POST) publication.

In his article he elaborates on four critical attributes:
  • Be a person of integrity
  • Be willing to make the tough calls
  • Be a team player and see the big picture
  • Be a problem solver, not a problem identifier

Chief DeVore has a Bachelors Degree in Police Administration and a Masters in Management from Redlands University.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Theft, Gunfire, and Death in Hayden, Idaho: Part II

Information Sources and Preface

The Idaho State Police Region I Investigations Division (ISP) investigated the December 28 officer-involved shooting incident in the Grouse Meadows subdivision of Hayden, Idaho, and submitted a written report (ISP Report) to Kootenai County Prosecuting Attorney William J. Douglas in mid-January 2005. On January 31, 2005, Prosecutor Douglas found that the shooting of Michael A. Madonna by Kootenai County Sheriff's Department (KCSD) Deputies Bangs and Smart was justifiable homicide as defined in Idaho Code 18-4011 Justifiable Homicide By Officer.

Prior to the release of the complete report, The Spokesman Review newspaper published two stories about the incident. The first was on December 30, 2004, and the second story was on January 5, 2005. The second story drew public and official criticism because it had identified the two deputies and it had relied on a source whom it did not identify for details about the shooting.

On February 6, 2005, five days after the ISP report's release, The Spokesman Review editorially commented that the shooting of Michael Madonna was clearly justifiable, but the paper also wondered if the shootout that also critically wounded Officer Coeur d'Alene Police Department (CdAPD) Officer Michael Kralicek might have been prevented. The paper went on to call for an independent investigation of the KCSD's policies that were relevant to this incident.

My comments on this incident are derived from my reading and interpretation of the 320-page ISP Report I received from Prosecutor Douglas, Prosecutor Douglas's Review document which was also released to the news media, and on newspaper and television news accounts of the incident. Where referred to in these posts, specific media stories will be appropriately cited and where available, HTML linked. My comments may also link the reader to other reference material available on the Internet.

On February 10, 2004, I had a telephone conversation with Dr. Robert West, Kootenai County Coroner. In that conversation Dr. West denied my request to examine the forensic pathologist's autopsy report on Michael A. Madonna.

This post is not an all-encompassing treatise. Many relevant details in the ISP Report are not included. I hope that readers who have questions about what I've written and how I've arrived at my conclusions will e-mail them to me or leave comments.

December 28 Incident

Shortly after midnight on December 28, 2004, KCSD Deputies Justin Bangs and Kevin Smart shot and killed Michael A. Madonna after he had fired two rounds at them and CdAPD Officer Michael Kralicek at Madonna's home in the Grouse Meadows subdivision of Hayden, Idaho. One of the two rounds Madonna fired struck and critically wounded Kralicek.

The shooting happened after Madonna had been handcuffed behind his back by Bangs and seated in Madonna's garage. Bangs left Madonna seated in a chair and walked a few feet to confer privately with Smart who had been interviewing Madonna's girl friend. Madonna successfully maneuvered his cuffed hands in front of him. Bangs saw this and again handcuffed Madonna behind his back, reseated Madonna in the chair, and then walked a few feet away to speak with Kralicek who had just arrived.

Madonna once again manipulated his cuffed hands to his front and ran toward the door connecting the garage to the house. Based on the ISP Report drawing (my assumptions: drawing is to scale and the width of the doorway was 3'-0"), I estimate Madonna had been seated approximately 14-18 feet from the door. (Photos in the ISP Report suggest the distance could have been several feet fewer.) Bangs and Kralicek saw Madonna bolt and pursued him. Once through the door, Madonna went directly to a living room coffee table estimated from the ISP Report drawings to be 12-18 feet from the door. There he picked up a loaded revolver, turned, and fired first one and then the second round. One of the rounds struck Kralicek as he stood in or near the threshold of the door to the garage. Kralicek had not drawn his own handgun but had apparently drawn the Taser from his belt holster and was preparing to fire it. He was struck by Madonna's round before he could fire the Taser.

As he saw the foot pursuit commence, Deputy Smart left Madonna's girl friend in his patrol car and ran to the rear of the car parked in the garage. He positioned himself at the rear of the car and was able to see Bangs inside the house and Kralicek at the door opening. Bangs, inside the foyer by the connecting door, was firing at Madonna. From the ISP drawing, I estimate that Madonna could have been 6-8 feet from Bangs. Madonna, grasping his revolver in his still-handcuffed hands, extended the revolver around the corner pointing generally toward Bangs or Smart. Seeing Madonna's gun, Bangs fired rounds at the foyer wall at a point where he believed his rounds would penetrate and strike Madonna. Bangs then retreated to the garage where he joined Smart. At that time, Bangs noticed Kralicek had been hit by gunfire and was lying on the garage floor. Bangs obtained another magazine of ammunition from Smart and reloaded. At that point, Madonna was visible to both deputies. They fired again, and some of their rounds struck Madonna. He fell to the floor wounded and did not fire his weapon again.

As other deputies and officers arrived in response to Deputy Smart's earlier radio call for help, they administered emergency medical aid to Kralicek and Madonna and secured the crime scene. Madonna and Kralicek were taken to Kootenai Medical Center in separate ambulances. Madonna was pronounced dead in the Emergency Department.

December 17 Incident

The December 17, 2004, arrest by CdAPD Officer Alan Winstead of Michael Madonna for driving under the influence is relevant to the shooting. Madonna became combative and resisted arrest by Officer Winstead. Other officers (including Officer Massie who "drive stunned Madonna with her Tazer (sic)" and SGT Bozlee) assisted in controlling Madonna until Winstead could handcuff him behind his back. Then they placed Madonna in the back seat of Winstead's patrol car. Winstead then drove toward the Kootenai County Public Safety Building with CdAPD SGT Bozlee following in his own patrol car.

At some point enroute, Madonna maneuvered his cuffed hands from behind his back to the front. He then successfully opened the cage separating the back and front seats. Madonna first had his hands on Officer Winstead's head but then moved them in the direction of Winstead's gun. Winstead successfully stopped his patrol car before Madonna could get his gun. SGT Bozlee stopped his own car, opened a rear passenger door on Winstead's car, and pulled Madonna out of the front and back into the rear of Winstead's vehicle. An off-duty KCSD detention deputy assisted SGT Bozlee in hobbling Madonna. Based on this incident, Madonna was also booked for felony battery on a police officer.

Michael Madonna's Emotional State After December 17 Arrest

While in jail on December 20, Michael Madonna telephoned his former wife. During that conversation, Madonna was asked why he was doing this with his life. Madonna replied to her, "I have a death wish" and "I just want out of here."

In a post-shooting interview by ISP detectives with a male friend of Madonna's, the friend stated, in substance, that in days prior to the December 28 shooting, Madonna talked about going out "in a blaze of glory"; that Madonna had a .357 and was "always trippin' on his gun"; that Madonna threatened to shoot somebody if they came to get him; and that Madonna had started selling personal property to get funds for a lawyer. The friend said Madonna was had become depressed, and when asked by the ISP detective if the friend thought Madonna's death was "suicide by police", the friend replied "this is exactly what it was".

In a post-shooting interview by an ISP detective with Madonna's girl friend while still at the shooting scene, the girl friend stated that she had been previously aware of the gun in the coffee table. She recounted that Madonna told her after being arrested the previous week, he would not go down without a fight.

In a January 1, 2005, Coeur d'Alene Press article headlined Madonna: 'Just kill me' by Dave Turner, Michael Madonna's sister reportedly said her brother was upset since the December 17 arrest and had little intention to serve jail time on the felony battery on a police officer charge. She went on to say he had begun liquidating his belongings and giving things away.

Understanding Post-Incident Investigations

Officer-involved shootings are rare in Kootenai County. After such an incident, there should be at least two distinct types of investigations.

The first will be a criminal investigation to gather the facts and physical evidence so a prosecuting attorney can decide if criminal prosecution is warranted. That investigation will (or should) never be conducted by any agency who had an employee involved in the shooting. The Michael Madonna death investigation was done by the Idaho State Police Region I Investigation Division, because deputies from the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department (KCSD) and an officer from the Coeur d'Alene Police Department (CdAPD) were involved. This investigation produced the ISP Report.

The second investigation is often called an administrative investigation, an internal affairs investigation, or a special inspection. It can be simultaneous with the first and is usually conducted by each agency with an involved employee. One purpose is to determine if the employee's performance was consistent with his respective departments' policies and procedures. Another purpose is to determine if the officer's and deputies' performance was consistent with the training they had received.

Because the two types of investigation have different approaches, the results of each investigation are not interchangeable. The criminal investigation by the ISP was not a replacement or substitute for the administrative investigations conducted by the KCSD and CdAPD. No one should have expected the ISP's investigative report to make comparative judgments about whether or not departmental policies, regulations, or procedures were followed. That was neither the ISP's duty nor the purpose of its investigation. Neither did the ISP's report of the shooting investigation reveal all the information the agencies will develop during their administrative investigations. Judgments and evaluations about employee conformity with departmental policies, regulations, and procedures are the product of the administrative reviews and are not necessarily germane to the criminal investigation.

Understanding Departmental Policies and Procedures

Law enforcement agencies develop and constantly reevaluate policies and procedures. Policies and procedures establish the foundation and framework for accountability. They are intended to keep the agencies in conformity with the law and to enable them to develop personnel training standards. As such, policies and procedures are more than guidelines.

A law enforcement officer's failure to adhere to departmental policies and procedures must invoke supervisory review of the officer's conduct. During the course of that review, the supervisor or a more formal review board will determine if the officer's conduct was within the boundaries of discretion and latitude allowed the officer. The failure of a departmental supervisor to review a policy or procedural violation is a failure of the supervisor to perform his or her duties. In some instances, supervisory review (what some incorrectly and defensively refer to as "second guessing") of a policy or procedural violation will reveal that the policy or procedure was deficient and must be changed. Failure of supervisors to review apparent policy or procedural violations is dereliction of duty.

In some cases what may at first glance appear to have been an officer's violation of policy or procedure is correctly found by the supervisor or review board to have been circumstantially appropriate. In other words, a violation of policy or procedure is sometimes justified. That's because policies and procedures cannot comprehensively cover every conceivable situation an officer may encounter.

It is the review panel's duty to determine if the officer exercised good judgment in the officer's understanding and interpretation of policies and procedures as they applied to the on-scene circumstances confronting the officer at the time. If the officer understood the policy or procedure yet exercised appropriate discretion and judgment in violating it, punishment is inappropriate. If the officer's violation of policy or procedure is found to be circumstantially inappropriate, it is the supervisor's or review board's responsibility to administer the appropriate corrective action. That can range from a verbal correction or admonition to remedial training to adverse personnel action including termination.

Administrative investigations and the reports they generate can and should result in disciplinary or adverse personnel action for negligent or repeated unjustified violations of policy or procedures.

The administrative investigation should identify deficient policies and procedures. Policies and procedures that don't meet agency objectives or conform to best practices are deficient and need to be corrected.

The administrative investigation should also identify supervisory deficiencies and training needs. It is important for supervisors to recognize and correct policy or procedural violations in their subordinates before the violations become serious. A supervisor's failure to supervise properly is no less egregious and deserving of punishment than the subordinate's willful and unjustified violation of policies and procedures. Ultimately, the objective of the administrative investigations should be to correct institutional or individual deficiencies.

Prisoner Restraint and Control

Three times (once on December 17 and twice on December 28) Michael Madonna had been handcuffed behind his back. On each of those three occasions he maneuvered his cuffed hands from behind his back and got them in front of him. In the third event, he was able to run into his house, pick up a loaded handgun, and fire it at a pursuing deputy and officer.

It is useful to understand some basic facts about prisoner restraint and control by law enforcement officers. For purposes of this post, restraint devices will be limited to handcuffs and seatbelts.

Handcuffs do not immobilize a person. They are devices that give the officer more control over the person being restrained. A handcuffed person can still kick, walk, and run. If the person has been incorrectly handcuffed in front or has been able to maneuver his cuffed hands from behind his back to his front, he may still be able to grasp objects that can be used to harm himself or others.

Officers use handcuffs to protect the officer, protect the person being restrained, and protect others from the restrained person. If a person is in custody, the officer has a legal obligation to protect the person being restrained. The failure to properly restrain an arrestee can have legal consequences for the officer and his department. Though this article entitled Liability Constraints on Human Restraints was first published 1993, many of the points it makes are still valid.

There are two styles of handcuffs commonly used by law enforcement officers. The first style is a chain link handcuff.

The second style is a hinged handcuff.

Compare the hand spacing in the photo of the chain link handcuffs to the spacing in the photo of the hinged handcuff. The hinged handcuff draws the cuffed hands even closer together. The hinged handcuff's construction reduces the prisoner's ability to maneuver his arms and hands even more than the chain link handcuffs. According to the ISP Report, the handcuffs removed from Michael Madonna at Kootenai Medical Center were "Peerless hinged handcuffs, serial #068688, 'J.B.' etched each side."

Both styles of handcuffs can be double-locked. Once double-locked, the single strand (the handcuff's moveable arm with ratchet teeth) cannot be tightened or loosened without a key.

On television and in films, handcuffing is often depicted as a routine activity. It is anything but that. The process of handcuffing a person creates an inherently dangerous exposure for the officer. The procedure requires the officer to be constantly aware of subtle changes in the arrestee's behavior. The officer must have searched the arrestee and be in complete physical control. The officer must also be in complete control of the handcuffs and apply them relatively quickly and smoothly. The handcuffs should be tight enough to prevent keep the arrestee's wrists from rotating but not so tight as to cause excessive pain or nerve damage.

Handcuffing is a procedure that must be properly learned in entry-level training and then frequently rehearsed during in-service training. The officer's handcuff technique should be retrained and rehearsed at least as regularly and diligently as his firearms training. Handcuff training and retraining should be documented as part of the officer's training record.

Trainers teach students to always (there are a very few specific exceptions, and none apply here) handcuff the person behind his back and handcuff the person with his palms out, thumbs up. Here is a link to a photo showing an in-custody with his hands cuffed behind his back, palms out, thumbs up using chain link handcuffs. Here is a link to a photo showing Enron's Ken Lay properly handcuffed behind his back, palms out, thumbs up. Notice, too, that the federal agent is holding on to him. That is a control measure that also enables her to catch him for safety should he start to fall.

The palms out, thumbs up, method rotates both arms to a less natural position and makes it nearly impossible for even the most limber person to maneuver his hands in front of him. In conjunction with properly applied hinged handcuffs, this technique is almost completely resistant to the arm repositioning maneuver Michael Madonna exercised on three occasions. Even if the in-custody is able to get his hands in front when cuffed palms out, thumbs up, his hands will still be palms out but thumbs down. This is an unnatural position for his hands and arms and will make it much more difficult for him to grasp an object and use it as a weapon.

If the in-custody has been incorrectly cuffed behind his back but with his palms in, thumbs down and if he is able to maneuver his hands in front of him, his hands will be in their natural (albeit handcuffed) position so they can more easily grip an object.

Even without handcuffs, the reader can position his own hands in both the palms-out and the palms-in positions to better understand the reason for the palms-out method being preferable.

I submitted several questions to the State of Idaho's Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Academy under the provisions of Idaho's Public Record Law. POST replied that it teaches the behind the back, palms out, thumbs up handcuff technique in its basic law enforcement academy classes attended by Bangs. Attendees are required to demonstrate proficiency and satisfactory performance of these handcuffing skills. Attendees are shown the advantages and disadvantages of various handcuffing techniques. Attendees are shown techniques that a handcuffed person could use to manipulate handcuffs open as well as techniques that a handcuffed person could use to move arms from behind the back to the front while handcuffed. POST also affirmed that KCSD Deputy Bangs successfully completed the Idaho POST Basic Patrol Academy.

An in-custody being transported in a one-man patrol car should be thoroughly searched and then handcuffed behind his back, palms out, thumbs up, cuffs appropriately tight and double locked. He should be seated in the right rear seat so he is not directly behind the driver, and his seatbelt should be fastened. The security screen should be locked in place. It is preferable that there be a second officer riding in the left rear seat as well to further control the arrestee.


My conclusions will comment on some of the issues that have been publicly raised by the shooting at Grouse Meadows. My conclusions are not in any order of priority.

News media

The press coverage, and The Spokesman Review newspaper’s coverage and editorial comments in particular, received considerable attention. In summary, the comments and allegations made by critics were:

  • The paper should not have published the involved deputies’ names until after they were officially released by the Sheriff’s office. The paper’s release of the deputies names violated an unspoken agreement between the Sheriff’s office and the press.
  • The paper used a law enforcement officer who wanted to remain unidentified as a source for one story. The source unethically provided information about an ongoing investigation.
  • The information provided to the paper was inaccurate.
  • The information provided to the paper reflected poorly on the deputies and officers involved.
  • The newspaper’s coverage served no immediate need to the public.
  • The newspaper’s coverage was disrespectful.

I’ll briefly address each of those six comments or criticisms.

  • Release of deputies names: When a person makes an occupational choice to be a law enforcement officer, he accepts that his on-duty conduct (and sometimes his off-duty conduct as well) will be scrutinized by the press and the public. If an officer or deputy believes that his occupational choice entitles him to some special treatment or consideration, I invite him to read Searching for Causes: Entitlement and Alienation as Precursors of Unethical Police Behaviour . If a prospective law enforcement officer is unwilling to accept that his official public behavior may become newsworthy, he should not choose law enforcement as an occupation. Law enforcement is an occupation, not a calling. It is an occupation that is, or should be, extremely difficult to enter and extremely easy to leave.

    Both the KCSD and the CdAPD have media representatives or public information officers (PIO) who, if they did their job, went to the Grouse Meadows shooting scene while the media was still there. It was the PIOs’ duty to request some information be withheld if they believed such a request was appropriate and defensible. Don’t blame the newspaper if the departmental PIOs did not do their jobs. If the Sheriff and Chief of Police did not meet with Editor Steve Smith immediately after his appointment as Editor to lay the groundwork for media access and cooperation at future incidents, then the Sheriff and Chief of Police failed to do their jobs.

  • Unidentified source: Journalists prefer not to use unidentified sources. On rare occasions, that is the only way to get timely information. The decision to use information from an unidentified source is made by an editor (or more than one after discussing the merits of using versus not using the information), not by a reporter. The disclosures made did not compromise the investigation being done by the ISP.

  • Information provided to paper was inaccurate: The January 5, 2005, article “Cuffed man shot officer” stated “...deputies Justin Bangs and Kevin Smart fired 26 times...” That reporting was inaccurate. They fired a total of 31 times.

  • Information provided to the paper reflected poorly on deputies: How? The news articles printed in The Spokesman Review were not critical of the deputies or the police. The news articles did not allege or even imply criminal violations, misconduct, or failure to perform duties by the deputies and officers.

  • Newspaper coverage served no immediate public need: Yes, it did. The Kootenai County Sheriff is an elected official accountable to the public. The public’s right to know through the exercise of a free press is how we perform our duty as citizens to oversee the conduct of our elected officials.

  • Press coverage was disrespectful to all involved: How? Reporting the public conduct of law enforcement officers, particularly when the conduct reported is during the performance of an official duty, is not disrespectful.

In its February 6, 2005, editorial, The Spokesman Review called for an independent investigation “...to analyze the policies that came into play in this shootout.” I agree with the paper's underlying intent to ensure the public has an opportunity to learn what happened, but I would prefer some sort of collaborative review. Often, this is called citizen oversight. As noted in the March 2001 study Citizen Review of Police – Approaches & Implementation, there are four general types of oversight systems:

  • Citizens investigate allegations of law enforcement misconduct and recommend findings to the chief or sheriff.

  • Law enforcement officers investigate allegations and develop findings; citizens review and recommend that the chief or sheriff approve or reject the findings.

  • Complainants may appeal findings established by the police or sheriff’s department to citizens, who review them and then recommend their own findings to the chief or sheriff.

  • An auditor investigates the process by which the police or sheriff’s department accepts and investigates complaints and reports on the thoroughness and fairness of the process to the department and the public.

Collaboration between the KCSD and the public, including the press, would probably meet the objectives intended by the newspaper’s call for an investigation.

The Spokesman Review was criticized for seeking and printing comments from Dr. Geoffrey Alpert, a criminologist. Some in the community feel that because Dr. Alpert has never been a police officer, he is unqualified to research and report on police use of force. Those people should read the International Association of Chiefs of Police recommendations from its 2003 Roundtable Unresolved Problems & Powerful Potentials – Improving Partnerships Between Law Enforcement Leaders and University Based Researchers. The paper was published in August 2004.

Michael Madonna’s Conduct on December 28

Michael Madonna initiated a series of events that led to his own death. The ISP Report reveals that his behavior between December 17 and 28 was consistent with someone considering suicide. Persons with whom he was close saw these signs but either did not recognize them as warning signs or failed to encourage Madonna seek treatment that might have saved him.

On December 28 when Michael Madonna first maneuvered his handcuffed hands from behind him to his front, I believe he had formed the intent to cause law enforcement officers to take his life. His compliance when Deputy Bangs recuffed him behind his back may have been an act to prevent his being moved to a more confining environment such as the back of a patrol car. When Madonna again successfully moved his hands to the front and bolted for the connecting door, I believe that he was mentally and emotionally committed to making a “last stand”, to die there rather than return to jail.

Deputies Bangs’ and Smart’s Conduct

Deputy Bangs failed to properly control his prisoner, Michael Madonna, not once but twice. He had an absolute duty to control the prisoner so that Madonna could not hurt anyone else or himself. He did not perform that duty acceptably. Bangs was aware of Madonna’s near-escape from CdAPD on December 17, although he had been given incorrect information about the method of escape. On December 28 after Madonna successfully first moved his handcuffed hands from his back to his front, Bangs should have taken more positive measures to secure Madonna. He didn’t.

During the shootout, Deputy Bangs displayed acceptable fire discipline and performed according to his training. The ISP Report suggests that Bangs fired some rounds through a wall, a practice that is normally out of policy. However in this instance, it appears he fired only when he saw signs of a target (Michael Madonna) being present behind the wall at which he fired. For example, when he saw the revolver coming around the wall edge in handcuffed hands, he could reasonably approximate the bearer’s body position even though he couldn’t see the body. At that time, Madonna would have been fewer than 10 feet from Bangs. Deputy Bangs also did two “hot reloads”, reloading his weapon before it ran out of ammunition. This results from diligent reloading drills on the range. It is a good practice, because it allowed Bangs to select the safest and most opportune times to reload.

During the shootout, Deputy Bangs was in the foyer, Deputy Smart was behind the left rear of the car in the garage, and Madonna was in the living room. The angles, as represented in the drawing in the ISP Report, suggest that Deputy Bangs was very close to being caught in a crossfire if Smart and Madonna fired at each other.

During the shootout Deputy Bangs fired 17 rounds and Deputy Smart fired 14 rounds. There is no indication in the ISP Report that either Bangs or Smart fired carelessly or inappropriately. All their rounds were in the direction of an armed assailant and appeared to have been fired intending to hit him. Once they determined he had been hit and no longer presented a threat to them or anyone else, they ceased their firing.

In his review of the shootout, Prosecutor Douglas twice used the term “suppressive fire”. It may have been used by Bangs or Smart in their interviews with the ISP, but I have been unable to locate it in the ISP Report. Prosecutor Douglas should have explained how he defined that term.

In military parlance, suppressive fire is directed in the general direction of an enemy to “keep their heads down” while the shooter’s own troops move. “Suppressive fire” is not typically taught in basic law enforcement academies, however it is taught in some specialized unit training to be used under very closely controlled circumstances. Regardless of its meaning, the ISP Report does not indicate that either deputy engaged in “suppressive fire.” Every indication is that both deputies were firing at Michael Madonna or (in Bangs’ case) at a spot where he could reasonably conclude Madonna was standing while pointing a gun around the corner at the deputies. Even if Smart had used “suppressive fire”, Bangs only movement would have been into the doorway through which Smart would have been firing. That Deputy Smart did not engage in suppressive fire may have prevented Deputy Bangs from being hit as he moved from the foyer to join Smart in the garage.

Officer Kralicek’s Conduct

The CdAPD needs to determine why Officer Kralicek chose to draw his Taser rather than his sidearm when he entered Madonna’s house. Was Officer Kralicek distracted in unholstering and preparing the Taser so that he did not see Madonna's gun as quickly as he might have?

Officer Kralicek was carrying three non-lethal weapons on his belt: the Taser, an Asp, and O.C. spray. Each of those devices is (or should be) covered by a departmental policy and requires proper training and retraining to maintain use proficiency. Each device, with its accompanying policy, has decision boundaries. Use the Taser in these situations but not others. Use the Asp in these situations but not others. Use the O.C. in these decisions but not others.

My concern is that as the assortment of non-lethal weapons proliferate, the officers are being forced to spend more time in making decisions. Granted, that time is dramatically reduced with careful and thorough training and retraining, but time is time. In this case, Michael Madonna had already made the decision what he was going to do when he entered the house. He was going to get his gun, turn, and shoot. It seems likely that Officer Kralicek had made the decision to use the Taser before he saw the gun in Madonna’s hands. Otherwise, Kralicek would have drawn his own gun and not the Taser. So what in Officer Kralicek’s training caused him to respond the way he did? The CdAPD needs to seriously look at that.

KCSD and CdAPD Institutional Conduct

If, as it appears, the reason Michael Madonna was able to relocate his hands from back to front twice on December 28 was because he had been improperly handcuffed, it is unlikely that was the first time Deputy Bangs had improperly handcuffed a prisoner. He was taught the proper method at the POST Academy. He was taught why the method is correct, and he was shown how prisoners escape when they’ve been improperly handcuffed. So why did he improperly handcuff Michael Madonna, if he did?

The short answer may be because the KCSD tolerated it.

If the KCSD, from Sheriff Watson down through his command level to the field supervisors to the training officers to the jailers who saw prisoners being brought in improperly cuffed didn’t correct Deputy Bangs, he can hardly be disciplined for having done what was tacitly condoned by supervisors.

The near-escape of Michael Madonna on December 17 was a major officer safety issue. It should have triggered a rapid and thorough information exchange at least between CdAPD and the POST Academy. The technique Madonna used to nearly escape should have been clearly and completely conveyed to POST, even if it embarrassed the CdAPD. CdAPD should also have notified all local law enforcement agencies of Madonna’s skill and maneuverability and the technique he used.

Even if CdAPD did not initiate an information exchange, all local agencies including KCSD should have sought the information. Clearly some information was being exchanged informally at some level: Bangs had been given incorrect information about the escape. And it’s fair to ask: If Deputy Bangs had been formally given the correct information in roll call or in-service training about how Madonna nearly escaped on December 17, would he have controlled Madonna differently on December 28? I’m betting he would have.

Sheriff Rocky Watson can hardly minimize the importance of regular roll-call and in-service training for his deputies. He’s the current Vice-Chairman of the POST Council. To quote from the Idaho POST Academy’s website:

The POST Council members represent law enforcement and organizations within the law enforcement community. Our principle purpose is to enforce the training education and employment standards of peace officers. Members are appointed by the Governor and serve for a four-year term. Members receive no compensation but are reimbursed for travel and per diem expenses. Appointment to the Council is considered an honor and members are conscientious and work hard for the refinement of law enforcement in our state.
ADDENDUM: It is impossible to overstate the thoroughness, impartiality, and professionalism that went into the ISP's conduct of the investigation and its subsequent report. Skeptics sometimes question whether fellow law enforcement officers can and will objectively investigate comrades. A thorough study of the ISP's report should reassure even the harshest skeptics. From crime scene discipline, security, and logging to the final report, the ISP's investigation was as good as any you will ever see.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A Federal Answer...Finally

My January 18, 2005, post recounted my December exchange of emails with an EPA representative in Seattle. My question was simple: Had the City of Coeur d'Alene complied with a federal bioterrorism law to help ensure the safety of our drinking water. The Seattle EPA representative instructed me to submit a Freedom of Information Act request to EPA headquarters. I did. Today, February 15, 2005, I received this reply:

Dear Mr. McCrory,

I have been assigned an on-line Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from you regarding the City of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. In your request you ask if the City of Coeur d'Alene drinking water system is in compliance with provisions of the "Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002" or "Bioterrorism Act" for short. Since you didn't specifically ask for any documents or a list of documents in your request, I have been informed by the FOIA experts here that we cannot process your request as currently worded. You would need to specifically ask for the Vulnerability Assessment Certification and Emergency Response Plan Certification in your FOIA request for us to process the request. Both these documents would show whether the City of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho is in compliance with Bioterrorism Act requirements.

Rather than have you re-submit your FOIA request and specifically ask for these two documents, I will expedite this whole process and answer your question directly. The City of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho has submitted all the appropriate documents and is in compliance with Bioterrorism Act requirements.

Before closing I would like to apologize for any bureaucratic hurdles or delays, either perceived by you or actually experienced. Rest assured that EPA wishes to answer inquiries by citizens on drinking water system security but at the same time balance this need for information against the security of the drinking water systems themselves.

Should you have any additional questions please feel free to contact me at (202) 564-3824 or via e-mail.


Andrew J. Bielanski
Environmental Engineer
Water Security Division
Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water (4601M)
Phone number: (202) 564-3824
Fax number: (202) 564-3755

I sincerely appreciate Mr. Bielanski's explaining the FOIA process that I would have to follow to get the reports from which I could have extracted the answer. But even more, I appreciate that he took the time to read and understand my request and then answer my question directly. His answer was not evasive and bureaucratic; it was thorough and helpful.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Two al Qaeda Studies

Here are two studies prepared about two years apart by The Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service. The first, done in May 2003, is a fair introduction to the organization. The second, done just a few days ago, updates the earlier information.

"Al Qaeda: Statements and Evolving Ideology," February 4, 2005

"Al Qaeda after the Iraq Conflict," May 23, 2003

Friday, February 11, 2005


We in north Idaho live in an agricultural area. The Palouse country to the south is one of the richest grain-producing areas in the world. And lest we forget, timber is still an agricultural product.

Agroterrorism is a subset of bioterrorism and is defined as the deliberate introduction of an animal or plant disease with the goals of generating fear, economic losses, or undermining stability. Agriculture and food production have generally received less attention in counterterrorism and homeland security. Thankfully, that is changing.

On August 13, 2004, The Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, released an informative 49-page report entitled Agroterrorism - Threats and Preparedness. The first 23 pages are pretty blah, being devoted to funding and legislation issues. The informative stuff begins on page 24, identifying possible pathogens in an agroterrorist attack. Then immediately following on page 28 is a discussion of what it will take to effectively counter the agroterrorism threat.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Law Enforcement Security Clearances

Before the events of September 11, 2001, state and local law enforcement access to national security classified information was severely restricted...officially. Unofficially, if the originator of the information felt that the national security was better served by passing information to "uncleared" law enforcement officers, the information got passed. This, however, resulted in spotty distribution and, frankly, many missed opportunities.

Since 9/11 there have been efforts to streamline the process. Finally, some in the federal government began to realize and acknowledge that when it came right down to it, the local agencies could probably use the information more effectively than the feds.

To facilitate understanding and the clearance process, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has published a brochure that "...describes when security clearances are necessary and the notable differences between clearance levels. It also describes the process involved in applying and being considered for a clearance."

Even if local agencies do not wish to look into getting some personnel cleared, it's not a bad idea to discuss the possibilities with their local FBI office.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Information Bulletin: Remotely Piloted Vehicle Threat

On June 7, 2004, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released and UNCLASSIFIED/FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Information Bulletin entitled Remotely Piloted Vehicle Threat .

The document is a reasonably good introduction to remotely piloted vehicles (RPV) which have received considerable news coverage because of their use by US forces in Iraq. A rich resource of links to information about unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) is here .

The DHS Information Bulletin makes an unusual statement which begins: "Although RCAs (remote controlled aircraft) have not been used by terrorists to date..." DHS may want to review the tactics of the Baader-Meinhof Gang in Germany in the 1970's.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Understand Workplace Violence -- Please!

In the January 2005 issue of Access Control & Security Systems, J. Branch Walton authors an article entitled Predicting the Unpredictable. In the article, Branch includes some common-sense approaches to being ready to deal with workplace violence. The key is in recognizing that workplace violence can happen anywhere (yes, even your business) and in preparing to deal with it.

Branch is the president of Profit Protection, LLC. He had a 21-year career with the United States Secret Service, retiring as the Special Agent-in-Charge of a field office. Post retirement activity included Cummins Engine Co., Columbus, In, where he was a well-known speaker and author on workplace violence, and he has consulted for publishers and video producers on the subject. He is a criminal justice instructor at the University of Indiana and also instructs at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center at Glynco, Georgia.

This link to the Access Control & Security Systems article is likely to expire within 30 days.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Examination of Questioned Documents

On September 8, 2004, CBS News broadcast a "60 Minutes Wednesday" segment concerning President George W. Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard. At the heart of that broadcast segment were several copies of documents purporting to shed light on then-Lieutenant Bush's service.

Shortly after the story aired, it started unravelling when people began to question the authenticity and content accuracy of the documents on which CBS News had based the story. Ultimately, the story was discredited, in part because the documents on which CBS had relied had not be sufficiently authenticated.

On September 22, 2004, CBS requested that former US Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and retired Associated Press President and Chief Executive Officer Lou Boccardi convene an independent review panel to determine what had gone wrong in the story's production. The entire Report of the Independent Review Panel , including detailed examination of the issues surrounding the questioned documents, is available on the Internet.

Even in today's age of electronic mail (e-mail), original ink (or pencil lead)-on-paper documents are important in our lives. When the authenticity of those documents is challenged, forensic document examiners are often retained to examine them and arrive at conclusions. However, the field of forensic or questioned document examination is not as scientifically and precisely defined as it might appear. For example, graphologists purport to be able to infer behavioral characteristics about the writer from an examination of his writings. The scientific validity of graphology has not been fully accepted in US courts.

There are several organizations that offer certifications and memberships to persons representing themselves as questioned document examiners. Here are links to some of them:

- The National Association of Document Examiners (NADE)

- The American Society for Testing and Materials, Technical Committee, Subcommittee on Questioned Documents

- The American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Questioned Documents Discipline

- The American Board of Forensic Document Examiners

- The American Society of Questioned Document Examiners

After reviewing these websites, it is easier to understand why the CBS "60 Minutes Wednesday" production team had some difficulty authenticating the documents.

The American Society for Testing and Materials website has several links to help the reader better understand the various disciplines involved in questioned document analysis and authentication.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Washington's Missing Persons Toolbox

On December 17, 2004, then-Attorney General Christine Gregoire issued a press release which contained this paragraph:

More than 300 police organizations across Washington today were mailed a missing-persons “toolbox” containing a model police policy for handling missing-person cases and a booklet to aid those whose friends or loved ones have disappeared. The packet also includes information from the Washington State Patrol’s Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit, and a DVD developed by the Seattle Police Department to train law enforcement officers in the handling of missing-person investigations.
In addition to placing a post entitled “Your Loved One Is Missing!!!” on the Whitecaps weblog on December 17, I also sent an e-mail to the Washington State Attorney General’s Office asking if any Idaho law enforcement agencies had requested the “Missing Persons Toolbox” sent to more than 300 police organizations in Washington.

On February 3, 2004, I received a letter dated January 31, 2005, from Marion Portenier, Administrative Office Manager for J. Scott Blonien, Sr. Assistant Attorney General, Division Chief, Criminal Justice Division. The letter in response to my e-mail stated in part:

To date we have received no requests from Idaho law enforcement agencies for our “Missing Persons Toolbox.” Should they wish to receive one, they need only contact me at the address above (Attorney General of Washington, PO Box 40116, Olympia, WA 98504-0116), and I would be happy to provide them with one.
In last year's legislature, Washington State Representative Al O'Brien (D - Mountlake Terrace) introduced legislation calling for stricter police practices in handling police reports. On January 3, 2005, I sent an e-mail to Representative O'Brien asking if anyone from Idaho's legislature, the Idaho Attorney General's Office, or Idaho law enforcement had asked him for a copy of his proposed legislation. On January 4, 2005, he replied:

Not that I know of, Bill. I’m working with the Attorney General’s Office on this issue. They sent questionnaires to 300 police agencies in this state requesting input regarding the investigation of Missing Adults. They compiled a Best Practices brochure and sent it out to all agencies. I will follow-up on this during the coming session.
Missing persons cases did not attract much law enforcement attention in Washington State until the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran its series of articles entitled Without a Trace.I had hoped that the extensive news media attention, the Attorney General's response in Washington State, and the proposed legislation by Representative O'Brien might generate some interest among Idaho's law enforcement and legislative communities to evaluate Idaho's missing persons investigations procedures so that missing persons would not become homicide victims as Carissa Benway did. Apparently, there was no such interest.

Report: Public Relations and Propaganda - Restrictions on Executive Agency Activities

Recently there have been controversies arise over the executive branch's expenditure of appropriated funds for public relations activities. The most notable example was the hiring of columnist and commentator Armstrong Williams by the Department of Education to promote the No Child Left Behind Act on his television program.

The issue is whether that use of funds and the messages sponsored amount to illegal propaganda. Title 5 USC 3107 prohibits the use of appropriated funds to hire publicity experts. Appropriations law "publicity and propaganda" clauses restrict the use of funds for puffery of an agency, purely partisan communications, and covert propaganda.

On February 2, 2005, The Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service released a report entitled Public Relations and Propaganda: Restrictions on Executive Agency Actitivies. It notes that no federal agency currently monitors federal public relations activities, but any Member or Committee of Congress may ask the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine an agency's publicity expenditures to determine their legality. Reforming the existing law will face two challenges: (1) defining propaganda and (2) tracking public relations activities by agencies.

Thursday, February 03, 2005


We appropriately honor and remember all those who served in the US military services. Those who died in combat are often memorialized with their names on monuments in Washington, DC.
To often, however, we forget those whose names we will never know, whose names will never be revealed in connection with the jobs they did. They were no less patriotic, no less skillful, no less daring, and certainly no less important to the protection of our republic. These are the professional intelligence officers and analysts employed by our government.

I would encourage readers to learn more about the US intelligence community and particularly about the Central Intelligence Agency. A good place to start is with the Factbook on Intelligence. In particular, please take time to click on the link to The Memorial Stars. It's an appropriately understated way to honor those whose names we will never know.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Report: Information Sharing for Homeland Security - A Brief Overview

After the events of 09/11/2001, many suggestions were made to improve information sharing among US government agencies at all levels, the US private sector, and certain foreign governments. The types of information potentially available for sharing includes raw data (no assessement of accuracy), knowledge (high degree of validity or reliability), and finished intelligence (source reliability and information qualitatively evaluated).

On January 10, 2005, The Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, released an updated report for Congress entitled Information Sharing for Homeland Security: A Brief Overview. This report reviews some existing homeland security information sharing arrangements, some projected arrangements, and discusses related policy, evaluations, and proposed legislation.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Grouse Meadows Shooting Report

On January 31, 2005, Kootenai County Prosecuting Attorney Bill Douglas held a press conference in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and apparently released to the public his review of the Idaho State Police's report of the shootings which killed Michael A. Madonna and wounded Coeur d'Alene Police Officer Michael Kralicek.

Douglas's report was entitled, "Review of Idaho State Police Investigation No. 2004-1007 -- Fatal Shooting of Michael A. Madonna." His report was addressed to Captain Clark Rollins, Idaho State Police Investigations Office, Region 1, 250 Northwest Blvd., Ste. 108, Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814, Ph 769-1433.

Spokane's KREM-2 television news has posted a story headlined Police cleared in Coeur d'Alene shooting death on its website. The first seven pages of Douglas's report are reproduced as .gif files in links appearing on the linked web page.

News accounts indicate that the entire report exceeded 500 pages.