Whitecaps

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

Name:
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.


Friday, April 28, 2006

Sensorship

My April 21 post, Making Buildings Immune, linked readers to some information about the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Sensors for Immune Buildings Program.

But DARPA is not the only federal agency looking at improving sensors to make warfighters and the public safer.

The Argonne National Laboratory is trying to develop "...a portable sensor to detect hazardous biological materials more rapidly than current methods allow," according to the article Biological Sensor Detects Hazards in the April 2006 issue of Signal magazine. The article describes how biochips, reuseable slides and a reader, will be used to identify unknown biological agents.

Rapidly evolving sensor technologies are improving government and industry abilities to deliver more and more relevant information to battlefield fighters and municipal first responders. As the information processing methods required to process the output from the sensors also improve, fighters and first responders will be better prepared to safeguard their units and their communities.

Sensorship is here.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

When It RAINS...

...people in Oregon pay attention.

RAINS stands for Regional Alliances for Infrastructure and Network Security. Its purpose is to facilitate the timely exchange of essential information from the bottom up rather than from the top down. Unlike some systems, RAINS includes but does not depend on public safety agencies for its operation. It is a public-private partnership to enhance public safety.

The RAINS Fact Sheet provides an overview, but much more information is available by going to the RAINS website and clicking on any of the links.

The April 25, 2006, Christian Science Monitor article authored by Aaron Clark and headlined Oregon emergency system helps deploy responders - from police to mall guards offers a readable explanation of some of the varied RAINS applications. For example, Multnomah County's manager for probation and parole uses RAINS to selectively notify authorities such as school principals when a person has been released from prison or poses a threat.

RAINS is controlled by local participants, not national authorities. Because RAINS includes private sector users, not just "official" public safety agencies, the potential usefulness is expanded. Unfortunately, some agencies have chosen not to participate. The Christian Science Monitor article said, "Despite praise from homeland security experts, RAINS still encounters institutional resistance because of the reluctance to share information and hook up the technology. For example, the Portland police department has not linked to the system."

RAINS is an innovative program that benefits small communities as well as large. Hopefully some day we'll see something like it in northern Idaho.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Sportin' Ladies' Fried Sidewinder

Looking for some unique dishes for your next soiree at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane, Washington, or the Snake Pit in Enaville, Idaho?

How about some Red Light Saloon Hushpuppies? Sportin' Ladies' Fried Sidewinder? Joy House Broiled Perch? Maybe a few Hooker's Row Boiled Milk Rolls?

"How," you must be asking, "could I possibly learn to prepare Madam Mary Ann's Pralines, Pioneer Prostitute's Roast Buffalo Hump, and Prairie Dove's Liberation Beaver Stew? And what's the story behind these tasty-sounding treats?"

Glad you asked. Look in cookbooks. No, not Betty Crocker's or Julia Child's or Wolfgang Puck's. Look in Jay Moynahan's cookbooks. He's written three.

  • Culinary Delights from the Red Lights: Recipes from the Bordellos and Backstreets of the Frontier West
  • The Prairie Pioneer Prostitutes' Own Cookbook
  • Soiled Doves Civil War Cookbook
On the off chance you've not heard of Jay Moynahan (you really must get out more), let me quote "About the Author" from each cookbook:

"Jay Moynahan is a professor at Eastern Washington University and the author of books and articles on criminology, art, prostitution and history. He has been researching and writing about prostitution on the American frontier since the early 1990's. His books on soiled doves of the frontier are published through Chickadee Publishing in Spokane, Washington."

Now, why didn't his bio include that he had also served temporarily as the town marshal in my home town of Palouse, Washington? His office at EWU has a picture of himself in front of the Palouse jail to prove it. Must have been an editorial oversight...

His cookbooks are really history books. Each recipe is accompanied by a one-page vignette that fleshes out the story behind the recipe.

Do you know how Hog Ranch Sunday Stew got its name? The explanation is in Culinary Delights.

And what dimmed the otherwise bright future of Civil War Captain Levi Bryte of the 3rd Virginia Volunteers? Soiled Doves Civil War Cookbook answers that and tells you how to cook Captain Bryte's Sweet Cookies (such a deal!).

Prairie Pioneer Prostitutes' tells us the town's name was really Klondike City, but a favorite dish there was Lousetown Oyster Cocktail. The recipe includes both oysters and good whiskey, but the author notes, "If good whiskey is not available, bad whiskey may be substituted."

All of Jay Moynahan's books, not just the cookbooks, are published by Chickadee Publishing in Spokane, Washington, and are described on his Soiled Doves website. Read down (don't scroll down, you'll miss some good stuff including the Delightful Dove link) until you see the author's picture, then click on it to get to the Book Sale page. They are very reasonably priced. They're also sure-fire conversation starters when your pastor, priest, or rabbi sees them on your coffee table.

Now, where can I get four pounds of boned beaver for that Liberation Beaver Stew?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Making Buildings Immune

"Today there is heightened concern about our vulnerability to chemical or biological warfare agents. As the technologies to manufacture such weapons become increasingly available around the world, as evidence grows regarding rogue nation – and terrorist – interest in the use of these weapons, and as attacks continue on our overseas military and diplomatic installations in the post-Cold War environment, it is becoming increasingly clear that our buildings are potential targets for attack by chemical and biological agents."

That statement comes from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Is the day coming when military buildings will effectively shield their occupants from chemical and biological weapons? If DARPA is successful, the answer is a definite yes. To achieve that objective, DARPA's Special Projects Office has begun the Immune Building Program. The program will first be applied to military buildings. The program's objectives are:
  • Protect human occupants by stopping or neutralizing chemical or biological agents before they reach the building
  • Restore the building's original function by quickly decontaminating it
  • Preserve forensic evidence

The military's traditional defenses against chemical and biological attack have been limited to battlefields. Protect individual troops. Very little effort had been put into trying to defend buildings and thereby protect the people who occupy them. That's changing.

The Immune Building Program wants to make buildings less attractive targets by better protecting them. Deter the attack by convincing the attacker that he is unlikely to achieve his desired objective. The approach is to reduce the effectiveness of an attack by active and passive responses of heating-ventilaton-air conditioning systems (HVAC) and other infrastructure modifications such as filtration, sealants, and chemical neutralization.

The success of such a program depends first on having systems of sensors and processors that give the earliest warning possible. Recognizing that, DARPA has begun a collateral effort, the Sensors for Immune Buildings Program. As its name implies, "this program develops point and stand-off sensors to enable the protection of military facilities and the associated military and civilian work forces." The capablities of those sensors are described in the link.

So, is the day coming when we in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, will have buildings immune to accidental or intentional chemical or biological contamination? Will there be a time when our own local hospital, Kootenai Medical Center, might be able to safely shelter in place rather than consider evacuation in response to a massive chemical spill on US Highway 95? Might our area's schools, office buildings, and county jail someday be immune buildings?

Probably.

DARPA's project timeline hopes to have its first operational demonstration of an Immune Building system in the second quarter of FY 2006. However, the capability to produce Immune Buildings is being done in the private sector. Assuming the Immune Building technologies and procedures are unclassified, they could begin to appear commercially within a very few years.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Needs of Forensic Service Providers

In March 2006 the National Institute of Justice (NIJ - the research, development, and evaluation agency of the US Department of Justice) delivered Status and Needs of Forensic Service Providers: A Report to Congress to the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

"It presents the recommendations of four professional organizations: (1) The National Association of Medical Examiners, (2) the American Society of Crime Lab Directors, (3) the International Association for Identification, and (4) the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.
The report supports the creation of a national Forensic Science Commission to review the field’s long-term needs at all levels. It covers four areas:

  1. Manpower and equipment needs.
  2. Continuing education policies.
  3. Professionalism and accreditation standards.
  4. Collaboration among Federal, State, and local forensic science laboratories."

The material quoted was extracted from the National Institute of Justice's Publications webpage. That page includes links to material from each of the organizations presenting formal comments at the NIJ Summit on Forensic Science Services.

The February 28, 2006, Whitecaps post linked readers to The President's DNA Initiative mentioned earlier in the quoted text.



Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Partisanship in Public Safety Executive Selection

Should county prosecutors, sheriffs, assessors, clerks, treasurers and coroners be partisan offices?

Dave Oliveria, columnist and associate editor of The Spokesman-Review, asked that question in his Huckleberries Online weblog post Question No. 2: New Spokane County Sheriff on Wednesday, April 12, 2006.

My opinion: Partisanship matters less when the nominating or appointing bodies are committed to selecting the most professionally qualified person. I've emphasized "professionally" because when the nominations of candidates or the appointments to fill vacancies are made by political parties, political loyalty and the nominee's controllability by the party or appointing body can be given more weight than the nominee's professional qualifications.

In a comment to Dave Oliveria's post, "Bob" said, "It was pretty amazing three R Commissioner's broke party ranks for this guy. I think he was the only one with a college degree. It's amazing to me that cops place so little emphasis on college educations in top level posts (see: Roger Bragdon)."

Bob's comment is just a little off. It's rarely cops who set the selection criteria. Those are usually set by the jurisdiction's governing body or by a committee following the guidelines provided by the governing body. The political dynamic in setting those criteria and who will be allowed to apply or be considered is well beyond the scope of this blog post, but as noted earlier, controllablity and political loyalty can often be major factors.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police has offered some recommendations for developing law enforcement chief executive officers with the knowledge, skills, ablities, education, and traits that will prepare them to perform duties professionally as public administrators in the 21st century. The recommendations are in Police Leadership in the 21st Century: Achieving & Sustaining Executive Success. The 47-page report was released in May 1999.

Since the newly-appointed Spokane County Sheriff, Ozzie Knezovich, was the only applicant among the three who had a four year college degree, here's part of what the 1999 IACP study recommended for education:

"Chief executives must bring a strong foundation for education to the job. Survey contributors overwhelmingly recommended a minimum of a bachelor's degree to lead an agency of under 100 employees. A third of the contributors believe a master's degree constitutes proper and adequate educational preparation to lead an agency of 100-500 employees. A distinct majority, 74%, believe a master's degree constitutes proper and adequate preparation to lead the largest agencies in the country." (Note that "employees" refers to all employees, not just sworn officers, troopers, or deputies.)

For the public to receive cost-effective, timely, professional law enforcement services, the administration of law enforcement agencies must be in the hands of competent, experienced, qualified public administrators. We won't get them unless we demand them. It sounds as if Spokane County residents have put that demand on the table and the Spokane County Commissioners have heard it. Let's hope that demand spreads.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Cutting Incarceration Costs

Thanks to Idaho Department of Correction District 1 Manager Vincent Rodriquez for forwarding this New York Times editorial from April 10, 2006.

The editorial comments, "A new study by researchers at the Integrated Substance Abuse Programs at the University of California, Los Angeles, shows that nonviolent offenders who complete drug treatment actually save the state money, even though the programs are costly." The editorial does not precisely cite the study, however it appears to be the SACPA Cost Analysis Report (First and Second Years) submitted March 13, 2006. The findings noted in the editorial are under the "Conclutions (sic) and Recommendations" heading which begins on page 21.

Here's a link to a general overview of the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute's Integrated Substance Abuse Program webpage. The embedded links are informative.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Changes in Expectations

In his Huckleberries Online weblog, The Spokesman-Review columnist and associate editor Dave Oliveria asked readers to respond to these questions: "Can the Spokane police conduct an internal review that the public will believe? Or should they seek beyond the Spokane sheriff's office for an independent review?" His questions were precipitated by The Spokesman-Review's Friday editorial commenting on the police's handling of Otto Zehm's arrest and in-custody death.

Dave Oliveria's questions are as important as their answers. His questions articulate the change in the public's expectations about police conduct. The change is well summarized in the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Strategic Plan 2000-2005, at page 9:

"Changes in Expectations Faced with real problems affecting the very fabric of society, the United States is relying increasingly on law enforcement solutions. For example, the dramatic increase in the number of law enforcement officers mandated by Congress, the enhanced funding for the 'war on drugs,' and significantly increased spending for counter-terrorist activities exemplify the expectation on the part of policy makers that law enforcement efforts will ameliorate societal problems. In other contexts, law enforcement officers are increasingly being called on to act as 'problem solvers,' taking on roles quite different from those associated with traditional enforcement."

In the next paragraph, the FLETC Plan gets to the heart of the issue.

"While being called on to address a widening array of social problems, law enforcement agencies are also being held to heightened levels of scrutiny and accountability. In today's world an officer must ensure that his or her actions pass not only the test of legality, but they must also pass the more subjective tests of appropriateness and propriety. The citizenry expects law enforcement personnel to act with professionalism and is quick to react with complaints and lawsuits when this expectation is violated."

This portion of the FLETC Strategic Plan for 2000-2005 was not a "woe is me" wailing about how unreasonable we citizens have become in demanding higher quality and more diverse law enforcement. Rather, it acknowledged that reality and it recognized law enforcement must be able to change, because society's expectations certainly will.

Law enforcement today is more demanding and exacting than ever before. The public expects its law enforement agencies to hire and retain intelligent, imaginative, innovative employees who can successfully handle a wide range of social issues, not just solve crimes. The public expects its law enforcement agencies to give honest and complete answers when questioned about officers' conduct. The public will be reasonably tolerant of unintentional and occasional errors in judgement, but the public will not tolerate intentional deception, disinformation, and stonewalling.

The public needs to have trust and confidence in its law enforcement agencies. The law enforcement administrators and officers must ensure they continue to be worthy of that trust and confidence. They cannot function without it.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Useful Website for Bloggers

Many bloggers prefer to write in their own style and to disregard or even intentionally violate writing conventions. That's perfectly okay in the blogosphere where artistic freedom and individual expression are as important and valid as informational precision.

Other bloggers prefer to write more conventionally, hoping to impart useful and timely information accurately, clearly, and concisely (I'm really working on that last one!). For these bloggers, CitJ (Citizen Journalism) sponsored by The Poynter Institute is a useful source. This website offers several category-links useful to bloggers. They include:

Each of these links has more links to helpful information about that specialized category.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

TOPOFF Dustup?

The April 4, 2006, Hartford Courant reports disagreement between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the US Coast Guard (USCG) during TOPOFF, a national security exercise conducted a year ago. The FBI and the USCG could not agree on which agency's tactical response team would board a hijacked ferry.

The Courant article summarizes the disagreement well.

A detailed account of the institutional disagreement is in the redacted and unclassified report of the US Department of Justice's Office of Inspector General dated March 2006 and entitled The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Efforts to Protect the Nation's Seaports.

TOPOFF was an exercise, but the potential threat to our seaports has been well-documented. Hopefully the FBI and the USCG will work out their disagreements before someone tests the security of our ports with a real attack.

Monday, April 03, 2006

"Plagued By Fear" - The Plain Dealer Series

(NOTE: Access to The Plain Dealer links requires free registration.)

On Sunday, April 2, 2006, Cleveland's newspaper, The Plain Dealer, concluded its seven-part special report Plagued By Fear. In it The Plain Dealer science writer John Mangels recounts the disappearance of 30 vials of material from Texas Tech University research scientist Dr. Thomas Butler's laboratory.

The material in the vials was Yersinia pestis. Plague.

In the series' Day 1: Plagued by Fear: The Black Death goes missing, Mangels outlines how Dr. Butler noticed 30 of 180 vials of material were missing and how he reacted. Mangels provides a brief history of plague and a contemporary perspective on the US government's perception of the seriousness of the incident. Dr. Butler's concern was public health. The government's concern was bioterrorism.

In Day 2: Vials reported missing and feds swarm in. How and why law enforcement began to quickly focus on Dr. Butler.

Day 3: Polygraph expert zeroes in on Texas Tech scientist. Dr. Thomas Butler becomes a suspect.

Day 4: Polygraph doesn't lie - or does it? The tactics of interrogation and the instrumental detection of deception are discussed. Dr. Thomas Butler is arrested.

Day 5: Prosecution lays waste to 'Dr. Plague'. The plague trial begins, and the prosecution adds charges about his mishandling of grant money.

Day 6: Butler tells his story, and jury responds. Not guilty on most of the plague-related charges; guilty on charges involving his mishandling of grant money.

Day 7: Butler learns his fate. The effect of the Butler decision on science and scientists.

The case of Dr. Thomas Butler and other scientists whose research included biological hazards has been discussed by the American Civil Liberties Union in its June 2005 paper Science Under Seige: The Bush Administration's Assault on Academic Freedom and Scientific Inquiry.

These reports emphasize the challenges when agencies responsible for the public's safety interact with the scientific research community. When the challenges are met cooperatively rather than combatively or criminally, the public will be safer.