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.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Investigating Crimes Involving Technology

It is more and more common for law enforcement officers to find suspects using technology to facilitate crimes. Fortunately many of the suspects do not fully understand just how much information about their criminal behaviors has been stored inside that battery-operated thingamajig they've been using. Unfortunately, law enforcement sometimes doesn't understand it either.

To help educate the good guys (law enforcement), the US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs has published a 169-page technology primer titled Investigative Uses of Technology: Devices, Tools, and Techniques. The introduction to the document notes:
This special report is intended to be a resource to any law enforcement personnel (investigators, first responders, detectives, prosecutors, etc.)who may have limited or no experience with technology-related crimes or with the tools or techniques available to investigate those crimes. It is not all inclusive. Rather, it deals with the most common techniques, devices, and tools encountered.
In addition to its value for investigators, this report is also a wealth of information for authors who write about crime, particulary technology-related crime.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No Gold Star for Brad

Elementary school teachers used to give gold stars for attendance. Regular attendance showed dedication and commitment. The gold stars were meant to acknowledge, encourage, and reward those traits.

As responsible adults we are expected to regularly and consistently participate in organizations and activities for which we have volunteered. If we can't fulfill our commitment to an organization by regularly attending meetings and performing the duties required, we should resign our position so it can be filled by someone who can. The value of our contribution is directly proportional to the amount of time we spend preparing for and attending meetings. If we're not preparing, if we're not attending, if we're not participating, we're not contributing.

Here in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, we have a local businessman who is a Commissioner on both the Planning Commission and our urban renewal agency, the Lake City Development Corporation or LCDC. His name is Brad Jordan, and he's the co-owner of a local real estate company.

Jordan has a problem. For the past two years he's had the highest percentage of absences from both the Coeur d'Alene City Planning Commission and the LCDC. By anyone's standard among people who actually have standards, his absenteeism is unacceptable.

According to the City's Planning Commission minutes for the period October 2005 through October 2007, Jordan missed 12 of 29 Planning Commission meetings, a 41% rate of absenteeism.

The LCDC's minutes for the period October 2005 through September 2007, reflect that Jordan missed or arrived late at 12 of 30 LCDC meetings, a 40% rate of absenteeism. The minutes show he never attended 8 of the 30 meetings and arrived late at another 4 meetings. Late arrival times varied from a few minutes to over an hour after the meeting had been called to order.

Coeur d'Alene's City Code, 2.48.020B, states, "Any member who does not attend at least a majority of the regularly called meetings of the commission over any consecutive three (3) month period may be replaced by appointment of the mayor and confirmation by the city council." While on the Planning Commission, Jordan missed two of the three meetings from November 2005 through January 2006. He also missed two of the three meetings held in August and September 2006. During the period January through May 2007 there were five Planning Commission meetings. Jordan attended one meeting and was absent from four. Finally, from August through October 2007, Jordan missed the August and October meetings and attended only the September meeting.

Jordan needs to resign or be removed from both the Planning Commission and the LCDC Board of Commissioners. His absenteeism demonstrates a lack of dedication and commitment required for both positions, and the people in the community deserve better than he's able to give.

No gold star for Brad.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Offender Reentry

The November 10, 2007, issue of the Coeur d'Alene Press had an article headlined "Group homes surge as inmates exit prisions; neighbors furious." It was an Associated Press article authored by John Miller. Its focus was on larger Idaho cities that receive a disproportionate number of offenders after they have been released from prison. Our little town of Coeur d'Alene now has 13 group homes compared four last year.

I wonder if the City knows where these 13 homes are? It is doubtful that all 13 homes in Coeur d'Alene are compliant with applicable zoning ordinances and codes. Then again, the homes' managers have little to fear from the City of Coeur d'Alene. It selectively chooses which codes and ordinances it will enforce and which ones will be overlooked.

The failure of the City to enforce codes and ordinances and the minimally coordinated release of offenders eventually leads to varying levels of conflict between the neighbors and and released offender homes' managers. That conflict is often resolved by a call to the police. This is true elsewhere, not just in Coeur d'Alene.

To help police better prepare to deal with offender reentry, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) have partnered to examine the potential for intensified law enforcement involvement in offender reentry efforts. The IACP hopes to reduce recidivism, disorder and victimization through increased law enforcement participation in offender reentry programs.

Together, the BJA and IACP have produced a downloadable DVD titled Offender Reentry: A Police Perspective.

They have also produced some downloadable publications, linked here:

Building An Offender Reentry Program: A Guide for Law Enforcement

Managing Sex Offenders: Citizens Supporting Law Enforcement

Sex Offenders in the Community: Enforcement and Prevention Strategies for Law Enforcement

Framing a Law Enforcement Response: Addressing Community Concerns about Sex Offenders

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Wanted: A Newspaper in Coeur d'Alene

I cancelled my subscription to The Spokesman Review yesterday. My reason was that the quality of its news coverage in north Idaho has deteriorated steadily over the past few months. I had seen the deterioration long before the newspaper announced it would be laying off news staff.

An example: The Spokesman Review no longer routinely sent a reporter to every City Council meeting, let alone commission meetings. It appeared as if a Spokesman Review reporter showed up only after receiving a press release or phone call from the city telling the newspaper that the city would be doing something newsworthy (meaning generating good publicity for the city). Journalism or PR flackery? It was the latter. It will be even moreso now that the number of Idaho reporters has been reduced dramatically.

The Coeur d'Alene Press is no better and no worse than The Spokesman Review at reporting news completely and objectively. The Spokesman Review's editor claims the owners and business side of the newspaper do not influence the news coverage. That is a laugh. At least the Press doesn't even make that specious claim.

The writer(s) of a November 7, 2007, Press editorial titled Whew! Glad that's all over said, "If critics of the Coeur d'Alene City Council, Lake City Development Corp., Kroc Community Center, Mickey Mouse Retirement Village or any other publicly financed entities have proof of unethical or illegal activities by officials, produce it and let the proper authorities do their jobs. The Press will publish the outcomes of any such investigations upon their completion. In the meantime, our reporters will not be writing stories on allegations or speculation."

Read that again carefully. The Coeur d'Alene Press said editorially it will not publish stories demonstrating unethical or illegal activities by officials unless the "proper authorities" conduct an investigation and make the results public. Who would the "proper authorities" be? The Mayor? The City Council? The LCDC Board? The Board of Directors of Mountain West Bank? The prosecuting attorney? Advertisers? Who?

I wonder if it occurred to the editor and publisher of the Coeur d'Alene Press they have just said they will take reportorial direction from the "proper authorities?" How can readers not reasonably conclude that if the "proper authorities" want a story killed, it's killed.

Does the Press not understand that sometimes public officials ("proper authorities") are dishonest and unethical? Does the Press not understand that it has a responsibility to gather and report information independently so we, the people, have trustworthy information, not the propaganda and self-serving crap that flows from City Hall?

The last line about reporters not writing stories on allegations or speculation was gratuitous foot-stomping. No one expects any newspaper to publish stories based on allegations and speculation. But some of us wish the Press would diligently follow up and investigate allegations when a reasonable person reading the allegation and supporting proof would conclude something newsworthy is there. If there's no factual basis, then there's no story.

We don't have a newspaper in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. I wish we did.