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.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

To Elect or Hire?

The Sunday, July 24, 2005, Coeur d'Alene Press editorial was headlined County government ripe for big change.

Not surprisingly, the always pro-business Press liked many of the recommendations that came from the business community, otherwise known as the "citizen's committee".

One of the Press editorial's three bullet items, though, made me wonder if the Press editor wasn't just moving his mouth in response to his strings being pulled. The item read: "Voters would continue to elect the sheriff and prosecuting attorney, but the county administrator should hire qualified individuals for county clerk, assessor, treasurer and coroner. Those are critical administrative positions that should be determined strictly by qualifications, not by political popularity contest."

The clear meaning of that statement is the sheriff and prosecuting attorney positions do not have any particularly essential qualifications and they are not critical administrative positions. While I can't address the qualifications for the prosecutor's position, I can with certainty tell the editor of the Press that he is badly misinformed about the qualifications required to be the chief executive officer of a law enforcement agency. To keep it brief, I'll suggest to the editor that he read Police Leadership in the 21st Century: Achieving and Sustaining Executive Success, a study released in May 1999 by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. In particular, the Press editor might want to start on page 5 with "The Contemporary Executive Role - A Consensus Model." And lest the Press editor think that a sheriff, even a rural north Idaho sheriff, is not appropriately included in this chapter, he can return to page 2 of the report and see that the first conference participant listed was Jacquelyn Barrett, at that time the Sheriff of Fulton County, Georgia.

Equally absurd was the Press editor's including the county coroner in the list of persons who should be hired rather than elected because the coroner's position is "critical" and should be based on professional qualifications. What professional qualifications? According to Idaho Code, Section 34-622 (2), "No person shall be elected to the office of coroner unless he hasattained the age of twenty-one (21) years at the time of his election, is acitizen of the United States and shall have resided within the county one (1) year next preceding his election." Though the position of coroner is statutorily required in Idaho, the statutes do not require the elected coroner to meet any particular professional standards or qualifications.

Perhaps the Press editor is laboring under the misimpression that Kootenai County's Coroner is a qualified forensic pathologist, a medical examiner or forensic medical examiner. He is not. If the Kootenai County Coroner requires a post mortem medicolegal examination, the examination is done by qualified forensic pathologists in the Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office. Until the State of Idaho decides to set much higher minimum standards and qualifications for the county coroner's position, that position can continue to be what it is in Kootenai County, a political popularity contest.


Blogger someone named Dave said...

Interesting stuff, Bill. Looks like Kootenai County wants to do what "Hagadone Hostility" is already doing. Rip apart the existing structure and establish laws which suit your particular purpose. And, I see a conflict of interest, having Business People on a citizen's committee. OF COURSE they're gonna re-write everything so it benefits them!

12:07 AM, July 27, 2005  

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