Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Many Ex-California Cops Retire To Idaho

Los Angeles detective Mark Fuhrman wants what a hundred other ex-California cops already have found in Idaho.

Clean air, quiet neighborhoods and an escape from big city crime and stress.

Idaho’s Panhandle has been a getaway for tired Southern California cops and firemen for about 20 years.

Some even have formed their own support group in Coeur d’Alene, said Karl Thompson, a Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department captain and former California officer.

“I don’t attach any significance to the fact Fuhrman might be looking to retire up here,” he said. “It’s only natural to want to retire someplace that is less intense and reflects more genuine American values.”

“I don’t know Fuhrman, but the vast majority of us that are up here came for the same reason: the quality of life and to get away from the stress,” said Terry Hannon, a former L.A. detective now living in Coeur d’Alene.

Fuhrman, prominent for his role as a lead investigator in the O.J. Simpson murder case, created a stir with a visit to Sandpoint this week.

Before he left Wednesday, the detective scuffled with a Spokesman-Review photographer at the Spokane airport and cut a deal to buy a $159,000 three-bedroom home on Sandpoint’s south side.

The white, single-story house at 419 Euclid Ave. is where Fuhrman plans to retire after the Simpson trial. The house is only two blocks from Lake Pend Oreille in a quiet, distinguished older neighborhood laced with Victorian-style homes.

Thursday, the house was mobbed by television crews and satellite trucks. Media from across the country, including the New York Post and tabloid television shows, descended on Sandpoint.

Many were playing up the fact that Fuhrman, accused of being a racist by Simpson’s defense team, is moving to Idaho, a state often painted as a bastion for whites.

That suggestion infuriated some residents and other former California lawmen who now live here.

“The insinuation that because an L.A. policeman is moving to Idaho means he’s a racist and a bigot cuts me to the soul,” said Jim Peasha, a Bonner County sheriff’s deputy and ex-L.A. officer.

“We are here because we are tired of gangs, traffic and crowds. Sandpoint is a wonderful area to raise my kids.”

Sandpoint Mayor Ron Chaney held court with the media all day, doing his best to dispel Sandpoint’s “undeserved” racist reputation.

“I’m absolutely amazed at the coverage of this story,” said Chaney, whose wife, Rose, helped Fuhrman find a house.

Chaney talked with three networks, the National Enquirer, “A Current Affair” and “Inside Edition.”

“It’s a golden opportunity for me to discuss what Sandpoint is really all about and communicate the fact we are not racist and white supremacists,” he said.

If Fuhrman’s house deal survives the publicity, one neighbor will be 60-year-old Gayle Dolsby. He’s a retired California sheriff’s deputy.

“I can absolutely understand him (Fuhrman) wanting to get out of that mess in California. I feel sorry for him and appreciate the position he’s in,” Dolsby said.

Dolsby is one of about 100 former California lawmen who have retired in Idaho’s Panhandle.

Since the trial began, Fuhrman, 43, said he has received death threats and fears for the safety of his wife and two children.

The detective discovered Sandpoint through a longtime Spokane friend.

“He wants to come here because he’s an outdoorsman, his wife is a skier and they want to be part of our community,” said Rose Chaney.