Posts tagged: Idaho State Police
In the past year, the Idaho State Police has seized more than 720 pounds of marijuana during traffic stops, more than 58 pounds of meth, and more than 30 pounds of cocaine. That’s for the calendar year 2013, and it’s only counting major seizures – those that were above reporting thresholds, which are 1 pound for marijuana, 2 ounces for meth or cocaine, and 1 ounce for heroin.
California was the most common state of origin for the seized drugs, accounting for 23 of the 80 seizures in 2013. Oregon was second at 17, Idaho third at 11, and Washington fourth at 10.
“This is just our numbers from our highway interdiction and our highway enforcement,” said Teresa Baker, ISP spokeswoman. “This isn’t the drugs that we seized from our investigations.”
In 2012, ISP reported 78 seizures on the highways, including 645 pounds of marijuana, 5.57 pounds of heroin, and 2 pounds of methamphetamine. “There are a lot of drugs coming into the state from other states,” Baker said. “There’s a lot of interstate drug trafficking.”
A Spokane man says he was pulled over by the Idaho State Police on I-84 just inside the Idaho state line last summer, and accused of having marijuana solely because he had Washington license plates and had his car windows open. “At that point, my jaw just dropped,” said Paul Dungan, 58. “I said ‘No.’ I told him, ‘This is the way I cruise in the summer time … so I don’t fall asleep.’ … He said, ‘I want to search your car,’ and I said, ‘No, you have no right to search my car.’”
Dungan said after nearly an hour of “haranguing me … he finally backed off.” Dungan wasn’t cited for anything; he hadn’t been accused of any traffic offenses. “I was definitely profiled,” he said. “I’m a 58-year-old white guy, and I haven’t ever been profiled, even when I was a young teenager in southern California raising hell-type stuff. What a horrible feeling.”
The Idaho State Police could find no record of Dungan’s stop. “I’m not saying that he’s lying at all – we just can’t find it,” said Teresa Baker, ISP spokeswoman. She said the agency conducts numerous traffic stops that in the past year have yielded big drug seizures – 720 pounds of marijuana, 59 pounds of methamphetamine and 30 pounds of cocaine, just in 2013. “There are a lot of drugs coming into the state from other states, whether it’s Oregon, Washington, Nevada, up through Utah, Montana,” she said. “We are constantly patrolling the highways looking for criminal activity. … If someone breaks a traffic law, no matter how minor someone might think the traffic law is, they can be stopped.”
Dungan’s story follows the release this week of ISP’s video of a traffic stop in January of 2013 in which a Colorado man charges he was targeted because of his Colorado license plates, detained at the same rest area, and his vehicle taken to a nearby jail and searched before he was let go after nothing illegal was found. Both Washington and Colorado have legalized marijuana; Idaho hasn’t. In addition, Idaho is nearly surrounded by states that permit the use of medical marijuana, which Idaho strictly forbids. Darien Roseen of Pagosa Springs, Colo. has filed a federal lawsuit against the Idaho State Police over his stop, saying his constitutional rights were violated and he was profiled on the basis of his license plate.
“I’m sure we’re not the only two guys that are in the states now that have legalized marijuana that those guys are harassing down there,” Dungan said. “I find it really annoying. I’ll never drive through that area again. If I’m going down to the Boise area, I’m going down through McCall and Banks and take the scenic route and through.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Video of an Idaho State Police traffic stop obtained by The Spokesman-Review under the Idaho Public Records Law shows an ISP trooper pulling behind a pickup truck with Colorado plates as soon as he sees it, following it into the “Welcome to Idaho” rest stop, then badgering the 69-year-old driver to allow a search for drugs. The hard-rock radio station that the trooper was listening to provides a soundtrack, interspersed with commercials; when the trooper first sees Darien Roseen’s truck, the radio is blaring the Scorpions’ “No One Like You.”
“Why’d you pull in here so rapidly?” trooper Justin Klitch asks Roseen in the January 25, 2013 dash-cam video. “Uh, I had to go to the bathroom,” Roseen responds. “You didn’t have to go to the bathroom before you saw me,” the officer says, to which Roseen responds, “That’s true - No, I did have to.” “I’m telling you, you pulled in here to avoid me, that’s exactly what you did,” the trooper says. “I mean, you almost hit the curb, you almost ran off the road. You definitely didn’t want me around you for some reason. … Why are your eyes glassy today?”
The traffic stop led to hours of detainment and a fruitless search of the truck that yielded nothing illegal; Roseen has filed a federal lawsuit over it, alleging he was profiled and illegally searched because of his license plate – which was from Colorado. He also has a Washington state driver’s license. Both Washington and Colorado have legalized marijuana; Idaho hasn’t.
The ISP said in a statement last week that it is conducting an internal investigation into the allegations in the lawsuit. “We would like to assure the citizens of Idaho and the visitors to our state that the Idaho State Police holds all of its employees to a high standard which includes following the Constitution of the United States and the laws and constitution of the State of Idaho,” the agency said. You can watch the video and see our full story here.
Here's a news item from today's Spokesman-Review: A girl in the back of a Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office patrol car slipped off her handcuffs, crawled into the front seat and drove away in the car Thursday evening at the Huetter rest area on eastbound I-90 in North Idaho. Kootenai County sheriff’s deputies and Idaho State Police troopers gave chase as the girl drove through Coeur d’Alene and then south on Highway 95. She was stopped on a dead-end road near milepost 421, according to a Sheriff’s Office press release. The girl was one of two juveniles in the car who had been reported as missing/runaways in Chandler, Ariz. The license plate reader on I-90 had identified the 1982 blue Chevrolet El Camino they were riding in as being associated with their disappearance.
The Idaho State Police has issued the following statement on the 'license-plate profiling' lawsuit filed against it by Darien Roseen:
Idaho State Police to Review Allegations in Lawsuit Stemming From Traffic Stop in January 2013
MERIDIAN - The Idaho State Police has learned that the department and one of its Troopers were named in a lawsuit filed by Darien Roseen for an alleged incident that occurred during a traffic stop on January 25, 2013. ISP did not receive a complaint from Mr. Roseen prior to the filing of this lawsuit.
We would like to assure the citizens of Idaho and the visitors to our state that the Idaho State Police holds all of its employees to a high standard which includes following the Constitution of the United States and the laws and constitution of the State of Idaho.
The allegations made by Mr. Roseen are now a pending legal matter, as well as, the subject of an internal investigation. Therefore, ISP will not be able to comment on the allegations or the facts of this specific incident until the matter is resolved.
Here’s a link to the Idaho State Police incident report on the Jan. 25, 2013 traffic stop in which a 69-year-old Washington man, whose vehicle had Colorado plates – he has a second home in Colorado – was pulled over as he entered Idaho on I-84, detained, and his vehicle extensively searched, as officers insisted he must have marijuana. Nothing illegal was found and Darien Roseen eventually was released. ISP released the report today pursuant to a request under the Idaho Public Records Law; the agency has not yet responded to a federal lawsuit over the incident.
In the report, ISP Trooper Justin Klitch wrote that he observed that Roseen’s eyes were glassy and “his hands were shaking uncontrollably as if he were extremely nervous.” He wrote, “I informed Roseen his behavior was consistent with someone who had illegal items in their vehicle.” He told Roseen he planned to call for a drug dog, and “he indicated that was fine and that I wouldn’t find anything.” Then, after Klitch urged Roseen to open a sub-trunk compartment under his pickup truck’s bed – because the officer knew “from prior experience” that the Honda Ridgeline truck had such a compartment – Roseen eventually agreed. Klitch said at that point he smelled the odor of marijuana.
The lawsuit says no one else smelled such an odor, and it was raining, windy and snowy at the time. The incident report says when Klitch told Roseen he smelled an odor of marijuana, Roseen “acted as if he were shocked.” No marijuana was found.
Mark Coonts, the attorney for Darien Roseen, the retired executive with Colorado license plates who was pulled over, detained and fruitlessly searched for drugs just inside the Idaho border as he passed through the state on I-84, said, “This driver was singled out because of the fact that he had a Colorado plate. … But there’s a bigger implication of any state having a particular characteristic or association with that, being used as justification for law enforcement contact.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com,
“For instance, Idaho is known as a pretty gun-friendly state, pro-gun,” Coonts told Eye on Boise. “It would be like me going to Oregon and being pulled over because of my Idaho plates, and law enforcement assuming that I had a gun, as soon as they walked up to the car, ‘Where’s the gun?’ I think that’s the much broader picture of this case.”
Coonts, who is with Jones & Swartz in Boise, said since news came out about Roseen’s case – and his federal lawsuit against the Idaho State Police – his firm has received a number of emails about similar incidents. “Quite a few people have emailed in about similar interactions,” he said. “In Idaho, people being stopped and questioned … the same type of scenario, people being targeted because of the plates of their vehicle.”
He added, “This is, we feel, a civil rights issue. It’s not a political issue about people’s particular ideas about marijuana, we didn’t file it about that at all. And we are not also passing judgment on all law enforcement, because they do have a difficult job. … If somebody’s speeding in our state, law enforcement should be able to issue a citation. It’s when it goes beyond that to start profiling, and people become associated with their state of origin, that’s when it becomes a civil rights violation.” For Idahoans, he said, “the risk is that they could experience the same treatment in other states.”
A federal lawsuit against the Idaho State Police charges that officers profiled, pulled over, harassed, detained and searched a Washington man simply for driving across the Oregon line into Idaho on the freeway – because he had Colorado plates. Officers insisted the man must be carrying marijuana, but extensive searches of his vehicle found nothing illegal. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Darien Roseen, a retired executive who was on the way home from his daughter's baby shower in Washington to his second residence in Colorado, was targeted within the first mile he drove into Idaho by ISP Trooper Justin Klitch, according to the lawsuit, who pursued him as Roseen pulled into the “Welcome to Idaho” rest area, refused to allow him to use the bathroom, and began badgering him to consent to a search of his vehicle – which Roseen refused. This happened just before noon on Jan. 25.
By the time the incident was over, Klitch had called in additional officers, detained Roseen in a patrol car, had an officer drive Roseen’s truck – without his permission – to the Payette County Sheriff’s Department, where it was further searched, and held Roseen up for hours. The lawsuit, which names the ISP, the Fruitland Police Department, the Payette County Sheriff’s Department, and the numerous officers involved, alleges violations of the 4th, 5th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution regarding illegal search and seizure, along with discriminatory and selective treatment by profiling, violating the equal protection guarantees of the 14th Amendment and Roseen’s right to interstate travel.
“Trooper Klitch profiled, followed, and pulled over the vehicle driven by Mr. Roseen because it had Colorado license plates,” the lawsuit states. “Upon learning that Mr. Roseen came from Washington, Trooper Klitch further profiled Mr. Roseen. Trooper Klitch assumed and alleged that Mr. Roseen was a person who was transporting marijuana based on his states of residence.”
Both Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana; Idaho has not. And the ISP has been reporting numerous big marijuana busts in recent months along I-84, a main route of travel between the states. Click below for a full report from the Denver Post via the Associated Press; you can read the lawsuit complaint here. The Post reported that Idaho State Police would not comment over the weekend, but planned to issue a statement on the litigation later this week.
The Idaho State Police is launching its third “All Hands on Deck” operation of the year tomorrow, sending all its commissioned officers, including the top brass and those who normally work behind a desk, out to patrol the state’s highways. Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, is one of the busiest travel days of the year.
“We want to give families added safety on the roads to start out the holiday season,” said Col. Ralph Powell, ISP chief. “Thanksgiving weekend is a busy time for friends and families, but it is also a busy time for crashes and fatalities. ISP wants to do all we can to prevent these tragedies.” The additional patrols will be watching for traffic violations that are known to be factors in crashes and fatalities, including speed, aggressive and distracted driving, driving while impaired, and failing to use seatbelts and child safety seats.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Normal attrition rates in the ranks of Idaho's state police have the agency putting out a “Help Wanted” call. The Idaho State Police said Monday it's taking applications for 20 troopers positions through July 22, with training to begin in January. ISP Colonel Ralph Powell says only those with the highest moral standards need apply. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, have a high school diploma or GED and pass an online examination, before a battery of additional tests including physical fitness. There are also background checks, work history verification and psychological and medical scrutiny. Training takes about nine months to complete, but the starting pay is relatively robust, at $17.67 per hour and possibly higher if the candidate is a current police officer with at least three years of experience.
The Idaho State Police reported 31 DUI arrests statewide over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, from Friday night through early Tuesday morning. ISP also reported 23 crashes, including one fatality and five causing injuries. There were also 35 drug-related arrests, 28 of those misdemeanors and seven felonies. The stats are for ISP only, and don’t include incidents handled by local law enforcement agencies.
So how does that compare to last year? Last year saw 39 DUI arrests, so that’s down, and 22 crashes including one fatality and five causing injuries, so that’s largely unchanged. The number of drug-related arrests, though, was up significantly - more than doubling. During last year’s Memorial Day holiday weekend, ISP reported only 14, including nine misdemeanors and five felonies.
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has appointed Lt. Col. Ralph Powell director of the Idaho State Police, also elevating Powell to the rank of colonel. Powell has been acting director since Col. Jerry Russell retired in January; he’s been deputy director since 2012 and is a 30-year ISP veteran. Click below for Otter’s full announcement.
Col. Jerry Russell, director of the Idaho State Police since January of 2007, plans to retire on Jan. 18, Gov. Butch Otter announced today. “I couldn’t have asked for a better director, a better leader or a better example of a true public servant than I’ve had with Jerry Russell,” Otter said. “I regret losing him, but I know that one of his priorities has been establishing and maintaining a strong bench of leaders at ISP who can continue his great work. … I wish him the best in all his future endeavors.” Click below for Otter's full announcement.
Forty percent of marijuana seizures in Idaho consist of Oregon medical marijuana, according to Idaho State Police records - legal in that state in the right circumstances, but not for anyone across the border in Idaho. On the stretch of I-84 where ISP Trooper Justin Klitch patrols, it's 53 percent, the AP reports. That's led to an odd phenomenon on the Idaho border, in which longtime Idahoans risk arrest to go home from picking up their pot in Oregon, and they often get caught. “It's like crossing the Berlin Wall,” an Idaho woman told AP reporter Nigel Duara. “It's like going into another country.” Click below for Duara's full report.
The Idaho State Police have announced that a veteran state trooper who was sharply criticized in an Idaho Supreme Court decision issued Friday - for offering false testimony that helped land a North Idaho man a 25-year prison term for murder - has been placed on administrative leave with pay. Here's the ISP's statement:
“With the May 27th announcement of the Idaho Supreme Court's decision in State of Idaho v. Jonathan W. Ellington, the Idaho State Police is fully aware of the significant issues involved with this case. As is standard procedure, the ISP has started an Administrative Investigation into the issues identified by the Idaho Supreme Court. The ISP regards this as a serious matter and fully intends to complete a thorough investigation. The involved employee has been placed on administrative leave with pay, and since this investigation involves a current employee in a personnel matter, the ISP will not be able comment further.”
The unanimous high court decision said, “It is extremely disturbing to this Court that an officer of the law would present false testimony in any case, especially a murder case. In this case, however, it is impossible to believe there was any truth to the testimony of Cpl. Rice. It is abhorrent to this Court, as it would be to any other court, that a man can be sentenced to twenty-five years for second-degree murder based primarily on the false testimony of a trooper of this State.” The court tossed out the conviction and sentence, which stemmed from a road-rage incident, and ordered a new trial.
The Idaho State Police will begin using an electronic system to issue traffic citations starting July 1, with the result that the process of writing out a citation for a stopped motorist will drop from 5 minutes to less than a minute. “E-Ticketing will bring vast improvements to a process that hasn’t had any major changes in the past 50 years,” said ISP Capt. Eric Dayley, who’s overseeing the statewide project. Troopers will use hand-held bar code scanners to input driver’s license and vehicle registration information, the citation will be printed out and handed to the driver without need for a signature from the driver, and the citation will be transmitted electronically to the computer databases for the courts and ISP.
Dayley said the new system, funded by a $900,000 federal grant last fall, will increase accuracy as well as speeding up the citation process. “This will result in reduced time on the side of the highway for our troopers and the public, which is safer for both.”
If the Idaho State Parks & Recreation Department got no replacement for the gas tax money it’s now receiving for off-road recreation, it’d lay off 10 people and endanger programs that now result in grants to local government entities - $32 million over the last 20 years - and pay for everything from snowmobile trail grooming to boat ramps to trails to fixing roads and bridges at state parks. Dave Ricks, acting state parks director, told a legislative task force today that tourism is Idaho’s third-largest industry, and brings $3 billion a year into the state’s rural economies. The loss of recreation funding would impact that, he said.
The Idaho State Police has some suggestions for how to make up the loss of roughly $20 million from its budget when gas tax funds the ISP now receives shift to highways in a year: Raise vehicle registration fees by $5, to generate $8 million; raise driver’s license fees by $5 to generate $1.7 million; place a surcharge on tires, batteries, vehicle and other transportation-related items, to generate up to $13 million; charge a half-percent fee on all new car sales to raise $10 million; raise transfer, new and out-of-state title fees by $5 to generate $2.7 million; and/or tap into the state’s general fund whenever other funding sources fall short. One catch: Some of those fees, including those for driver’s licenses and titles, already were increased by lawmakers this year.
The hole that looms to be filled in the Idaho State Police budget is actually larger than some may think, a legislative panel heard this morning. The fiscal year 2010 budget gives the ISP $15.7 million from the state highway fund, which largely comes from gas taxes; that will go away on July 1, 2010. But Rep. Rich Wills, R-Glenns Ferry, noted, “We’ve gone down with both the parks and ISP budget the last two or three years. … Are we going to deal with what they’ve lost, or are we going to deal with what’s currently there today?” If the current gas tax funds are replaced for both agencies, he said, there’s “still a shortfall.” Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, responded, “An excellent question … I don’t know the answer to it. … The language in the resolution calls for us to replace the funds that were there, so that’s our first priority.”
Legislative budget analyst Dick Burns told the task force that the highway fund money available to ISP has fallen significantly short, prompting the Legislature to make up part of the shortfall from an ISP personnel fund and part from state general funds. “The revenues will not be there to support that,” Burns told the panel. In fiscal year 2009, he said, “We supplied over $3 million in general fund money to purchase cars and so forth. … To do it right may require in the area of $20 million to $21 million.” Cameron commented, “We see a little bit of the depths of the problem.”
When the legislative task force ended up with time for some comments from the public this morning, off-road enthusiast Tom Crimmins of Hayden Lake was the first to step to the podium. “I recognize that you have a difficult task and challenge ahead of you - I wish you well,” he told the lawmakers. He said recreationists look forward to working with the lawmakers, but they’re none too happy. “Beginning in 1963, the recreational community agreed up-front … that giving out a bunch of $10 and $12 refunds cost the state more than it should,” he said. Those were refunds for gas tax paid on gas that never got burned on the roads, because it went into recreational, off-road use for boats, snowmobiles, dirt bikes or other off-road vehicles. So recreationists agreed to pay the tax, as long as the portion they paid was designated for trails. “Now it appears that the Legislature has chosen to renege on their part of the deal,” Crimmins told the panel. That puts recreationists in the position of either trying to get that decision reversed - his preference - or asking for their refunds back.
“I understand the Legislature’s reluctance to raise fuel taxes in this economic climate,” Crimmins told the task force. But if the task force is going to identify new funding sources, “It still appears to be a tax on somebody - it’s just a smaller target,” he said. Task force Co-Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, responded, “Frankly, it wasn’t my idea to make the transfer the way it’s done.” But, he said, “The way I read the task force requirements, our job is not to find a funding source for transportation. … That ship has sailed. Our job is to sort of fill the hole that was created last year.”
Crimmins suggested perhaps tapping the sales taxes that are paid on boats and other off-road vehicles and their parts and accessories to replace the trails funding, but Rep. Rich Wills, R-Glenns Ferry, noted that those sales tax proceeds now go to the state’s general fund - so the result would be tapping the general fund. “There’s already a shortfall,” he said. “I guess that’s the old adage of robbing Peter to pay Paul.” Crimmins said, “If the Legislature chooses not to increase taxes, which is what they did, and now they appoint a committee of eight folks to find a way to increase taxes on a smaller group of folks, that seems to me to be somewhat disingenuous.”
Crimmins was followed by four other off-road recreation enthusiasts. Sandra Mitchell of the Idaho State Snowmobile Association told the panel Idahoans treasure their recreational use of public lands, and it boosts not only their qualify of life but also the state’s economy. “They took away timber for the most part, they took away mining, but what they left was recreation,” the former staffer for then U.S. Sen. Steve Symms told the task force. Recreationists are proud, she said, that “we pay our own way,” in part through the gas tax. “We believe it is a fair and equitable use of fuel tax that’s burned off-road.” Karen Crosby of the Idaho Recreation Council warned that the funds now provide matching money for federal grants that have paid for recreational trails all over the state.