Thursday, May 28, 2015

Spokane sheriff: police militarization a "myth"

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2015 at 11:35 AM

Spokane Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich says that there is a new “war on the police” being waged and that it’s a myth that law enforcement is becoming militarized.

Knezovich made the assertions in a correspondence with Blaine Stum, chair of the Spokane Human Rights Commission, who wrote to the sheriff inquiring about military equipment acquired by his agency.

“While we understand the need for police to be prepared for the worst, we also see potential problems that can arise from funneling military equipment to local police departments,” Stum wrote in the letter. “Most notably, research, that is included in this letter, has shown that increased militarization of police decreases the level of trust between the police and the community they are serving and can lead to a greater spiral of violence that disproportionately affects minority communities.”

In recent years, groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union have raised concerns about local law enforcement agencies acquiring surplus military equipment, which they claim results in officers using unnecessarily heavy-handed approaches to routine police work. Earlier this month, President Barack Obama announced that he was taking steps to halt the flow of military equipment to local police forces.

Knezovich responded to Stum’s letter by writing that the ACLU report included false information in its report on police militarization. He also takes issue with research from the University of California Berkeley, referenced in Stum’s correspondence, that suggests that giving police military equipment escalates encounters with the public..

Here’s the text of Knezovich’s response:
I have a presentation I have created that speaks to this issue. Specifically the myth of police militarization. I will need one hour to present, as this is not a blush over of this issue. I look forward to going over the false information provided by the ACLU in their report. Just a prelude to my discussion on this matter. Contrary to what the ACLU presents in their report they never contacted my agency for the data they present as fact about the Sheriff’s Office, nor does their data remotely represent fact. This falsehood is addressed in my current power point which has been presented to the BoCC [Board of County Commissioner].

I look forward to a lively discussion on what is fast become the new war on the police. I use the term war in the spirit of the continual misuse of the term “war” as it relates to police work. With the results of actions taken by city of Baltimore, actions consistent with the UC Berkeley suggestions, which led to the burning of several buildings and the national guard being called out, it will be interesting to see how the Berkeley study holds up to real world activities.

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UPDATE: One missing Coeur d'Alene man found in Salmon River, one still missing

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2015 at 11:05 AM

Family and friends of Jason Gritten found his body in the Salmon River Wednesday night, according to the Idaho County Sheriff's Office. Gritten, 35, and Pat Lusk, 27, went missing during a camping trip the weekend of May 15. Family reported the men missing when they didn't return Sunday evening. 

Gritten's body was found near the Spring Bar, nine miles from where authorities believed the men tried to cross the river. Lusk still hasn't been found. 

The Sheriff's Office searched for three days last week, but suspended their efforts when the only traces of the Coeur d'Alene men were a wooden paddle and tracks to and from a nearby hot spring. Sheriff Doug Giddings told the Coeur d'Alene Press that a cadaver dog had a "hit" last Friday, but the river was too fast and muddy to send divers in. 
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MB: Sheriff spikes volleyball protests, Raul stands with Rand, and Blatter blathers

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2015 at 9:39 AM


The house fire that killed three in Colbert may have been a murder. (KREM)

Might not be a good idea to throw volleyballs at cop cars, the sheriff warns. (Spokesman-Review)

Raul Labrador has joined Rand Paul's campaign team. (Spokesman-Review)

As teachers unions lambaste the Washington Legislature, we explore how legislators got their 11.2 percent raise. (Inlander)


FIFA President Sepp Blatter addresses the (latest) FIFA scandal. (The Guardian)

The role China is playing in the production and distribution of the synthetic drug Spice, the mindkiller. (New York Times)

No, chocolate doesn't make you thin, as the comic strip "Cathy" taught us long ago. (Washington Post)


The Dissolve takes us on a theme park ride through the dystopias of cinematic yesteryear. (The Dissolve)
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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Is it fair for teachers to attack the legislators' 11.2 percent salary increase?

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2015 at 3:45 PM

Teachers and other school staffers from East Valley and Spokane Public Schools gather in Riverfront Park to protest education funding policies - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Teachers and other school staffers from East Valley and Spokane Public Schools gather in Riverfront Park to protest education funding policies

Over a thousand teachers, school staffers, and community members gathered near the floating stage at Riverfront Park today, dressed in red and protesting a whole slew of frustrations. Most teachers were from the Spokane Public Schools and East Valley, though some teachers from other districts — like Central Valley — took a personal day to join the protest. 

Instead of focusing on one decision or policy, the union kept things wide open: Many of the signs they carried had a clock with the caption "IT'S TIME ______."  And teachers, in permanent marker, filled in the blank: "To Full Fund Education," "To Lower Class Sizes," "For the legislature to do their job," "For competitive salaries and benefits." 

While both houses of the legislature plan to increase education funding this year, and give teachers a modest cost-of-living increase, over 60 districts statewide have walked out anyway. 

And one figure has become a particularly interesting talking point:

"On STRIKE against the Legislature. 
- Ignore VOTERS
- Cheat our kids
- DEFY the Supreme Court
- Get 11 percent raise?"

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Spokane selected for MacArthur Foundation grant to reduce jail populations

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2015 at 2:27 PM

Spokane County will receive a $150,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to create a plan aimed to reduce the jail population and create a fairer, more effective criminal justice system. The efforts of the 20-member Regional Law and Justice Council helped distinguish Spokane from the pool of more than 200 applications. 

"It's quite a get," says WSU criminal justice professor Jacqueline van Wormer, who was recently appointed acting Criminal Justice Administrator of the Law and Justice Council. "To have Spokane be in the top 20 of those 200 applications is exciting. It speaks a lot to the work we've been doing."

The grant is a part of a $75 million Safety and Justice Challenge by the MacArthur Foundation to reduce over incarceration in America. With help from federal reform agencies such as the Vera Institute, the Law and Justice Council will draw up a plan improve Spokane County Detention Center's risk assessment for offenders, evaluate diversionary programs and establish a more comprehensive criminal justice data system.

Van Wormer gives the example of an individual who continually commits low-level crimes and is constantly in and out of jail, costing the city and county money and resources, clogging up the courts and jail. An improved risk assessment and a data system that encompasses information from law enforcement, municipal, district and superior courts, the prosecutors' office, public defenders' office and the jails could prove invaluable to decreasing recidivism rates. 

In November, the Law and Justice Council will submit their plan to the MacArthur Foundation and compete to be one of the 10 jurisdictions to receive between $500,000-$2 million more annually to implement the ideas. 

Other areas Spokane will compete against for the annual funds include Cook County (Chicago), Harris County (Houston), Los Angeles County, St. Louis County, Ada County (Boise), Multnomah County (Portland), New Orleans, New York City, and the entire state of Connecticut.   
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WW: 420-friendly hotel; weed smoke and fart nuisances; weed don'ts

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2015 at 1:57 PM

Welcome back to Weed Wednesday, your weekly dose of pot news. Wondering what this is about? Click. Looking for our previous marijuana coverage? Click. Got a question or tip? Email me at [email protected]

In Denver, a 420-friendly hotel has opened up to cater to visitors who want to enjoy the state’s marijuana, reports The Cannabist. The lack of places for visitors to smoke marijuana has plagued the newly legal marijuana industries in Washington and Colorado, and its owners have balconies that allow guests to light up, along with other amenities.

Don’t give your students pot brownies.

Don’t put synthetic marijuana on the cops’ pizza.

Don’t sell pot on the Internet.

Maybe marijuana doesn’t help people commit crimes after all. 

In Massachusetts, a report issued by a state health agency suggests that medical marijuana is contributing to opioid addictions. Medical marijuana supporters are contesting the finding.

Speaking of Massachusetts, you can be fired for using medical marijuana, which is the case in other states.

The PBS NewsHour has a look at efforts to legally challenge Colorado’s pot laws.

It’ll be legal to possess marijuana in Oregon beginning July 1. The Eastern Oregon city of Pendleton has updated its nuisance code to include pot smoke. A letter from a reader of the East Oregonian says it makes sense to ban farts next.

Half of Seattle’s medical marijuana dispensaries will likely be shut down as a result of a new state law.

An appeals court in Oregon has ruled that a U.S. Postal inspector and Portland police can’t intercept packages that they suspect contain weed.
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MB: Teachers protest, a monument rises, and soccer gets its comeuppance

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2015 at 9:27 AM


A Q&A with the Spokane Education Association president on today's teacher walkout. (Spokesman-Review)

Local businesses open their doors for the kids whose parents may be working today, despite school being canceled. (KREM)

A victim of a fatal shooting at a tattoo parlor on Tuesday was a teenager. (Spokesman-Review)


Turkmenistan's leader gets a sweet new 69-foot monument to himself. (Washington Post)

What the trial of an American citizen in Iran will hinge on. (New York Times)

Dust off your sweater vest: Rick Santorum is running for president again. (ABC News)


Nine FIFA officials are arrested by the U.S. Department of Justice in Switzerland. Here's John Oliver's popular take on why FIFA is so awful: (HBO)  

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Not so fast: Document undermines mayor's case to pay for Davenport Grand cleanup

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2015 at 3:15 PM

A document obtained by the Inlander through a public records request raises questions over the city of Spokane’s claim that it’s legally obligated to make a controversial $318,000 payment to hotel magnate Walt Worthy to cover the cost of environmental clean up at a property now occupied by the Davenport Grand Hotel.

Earlier this month, members of Spokane City Council expressed concerns that the payment negotiated between Mayor David Condon and Worthy violated the Washington state constitution’s prohibition on gifting public funds to private individuals and businesses.

The Condon administration has justified the payment, arguing that because the city had previously owned the property it could legally be held liable for environmental contamination. Paying for the cleanup, according to the argument, would relieve the city of liability. 

But the agreement that transferred the property from the city to the Public Facilities District undermines that justification. The agreement, negotiated in 2003, states that the district, which later sold the property to Worthy in 2013, is responsible for any legally required environmental clean up on the 120,000-square-foot property.

“Why sign agreements to sell someone property and say we’re not responsible for any environmental clean, and then 10 years later say, no we’re responsible?” says Council President Ben Stuckart, who has been critical of the proposed payment. “What’s the the point of that agreement?”

Stuckart says he has not seen a complete legal analysis of the issue from the City Attorney’s Office. The council’s policy advisor is currently examining the legality of the payment to Worthy, he says.

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"Cornucopia of pharmacopeia" case found wanting by loquacious, baseball-loving judge

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2015 at 11:31 AM

Last week, a Washington State Appeals court reversed a trial court's conviction and dismissed all drug charges against a man caught in a stolen pickup truck — with a stolen ATV in the bed. 

Heath Wisdom was arrested near Moxee, Washington, when Yakima County Sheriff's Deputy Nate Boyer's automated license plate reader recognized the Chevy pickup as stolen. Before putting the man in his cruiser, he found a meth pipe in his pocket and asked if there were any other drugs in the truck. Wisdom said there was more meth on the front seat. 

Boyer found a black "shaving kit type bag" sitting on the front passenger seat and, according to court documents, could see a wad of cash through a mesh screen on the side of the bag. Boyer then opened the bag and found a "cornucopia of pharmacopeia," the opinion says, including meth, heroin, cocaine and ecstasy. The cash added up to $2,700, and Wisdom admitted the bag was his. 

He was then convicted of three counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count of possession with intent to deliver. Wisdom appealed his convictions on the grounds that Boyer's warrantless search of his shaving kit violated Washington State's constitution against unlawful searches and seizures (Article 1, Section 7).

Last Tuesday, a State Appeals court overturned the convictions. In the majority opinion, Judge George Fearing wrote: "Despite the banality of the facts, this appeal raises a fundamental question concerning whether Washington State will be a police state, in which law enforcement officers employ their own discretion when determining to search property, or a state under which the rule of law with magistrates prejudging the validity of police searches."

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MB: The wars against ISIS, street racing, and Snake People

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2015 at 9:37 AM


A jailed rapist has finally had some of his dilapidated properties fixed up. (Spokesman-Review)

How Spokane's school board candidates feel about the walkout. (Spokesman-Review)

A barn fire kills two in Colbert. (KREM)

A new ordinance aimed at kids street racing (and skateboarding) through Coeur d'Alene parking facilities takes effect. (CDA Press)


How a longtime Twitter troll finally got banned from the service. (Washington Post)

There's a good reason why the United States is being so cautious in its military strategy against ISIS: The Iraq War. (Washington Post)

Is there no happier day than when two cable behemoths merge? (New York Times)


A new app turns all mentions of Millennials into "Snake People," making this Inlander essay a lot more exciting. (Chrome)
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