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Gas prices affect police work

Compiled from staff and wire reports The Spokesman-Review

Moscow, Idaho Law enforcement officials in North Idaho’s Palouse region are sending out foot patrols, doing more work by telephone and conducting radar checks after high gas prices and an expensive upcoming murder trial resulted in unanticipated costs.

Idaho drivers are paying a record average price of $2.38 a gallon for self-serve unleaded regular gasoline, up more than 50 cents over a year ago.

In addition, the trial later this fall of three men accused of killing University of Idaho football player Eric McMillan is expected to take a bite out of the Latah County Sheriff’s Office budget.

As a result, information about misdemeanor property crimes, telephone harassment, petty theft and some traffic accidents are being taken over the phone, instead of in person.

If a written complaint is required, alleged victims may be asked to go to the sheriff’s office and write it, said Jennifer McFarland, the sheriff’s office spokeswoman.

In addition, people requesting vehicle identification number checks will be asked to bring the vehicle and documents to the sheriff’s office or Department of Motor Vehicles, she said.

The move mirrors steps taken earlier this year in Whitman County, where the sheriff’s office truncated its activities because of rising fuel costs.

Since then, Whitman County officials have been prioritizing calls and handling as many non-emergency calls by phone as possible. Officials say domestic violence, felony investigation and emergency calls take top priority.

Unlisted plant to get new study

Boise A plant that blooms in southwestern Idaho’s remote Owyhee Desert should be reconsidered for listing under the Endangered Species Act, a federal judge has ruled.

Interior Secretary Gale Norton relied on “improper standards” in determining that slickspot peppergrass didn’t deserve listing last year, wrote Boise-based U.S. District Court Magistrate Mikel Williams.

The order requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to re-examine the issue.

In 2004, Western Watersheds, a Hailey-based environmental group, sued the federal agency after it withdrew a proposal to list slickspot peppergrass under the Endangered Species Act.

The withdrawal came after state officials, together with private landowners, reached an agreement meant to help conserve slickspot peppergrass and keep it from disappearing.

The environmental group argued that the Fish and Wildlife Service violated Endangered Species Act provisions by not listing it after the agency determined the plant had a 64 to 82 percent chance of extinction in the next 100 years.

The federal agency “should have erred on the side of caution,” Williams wrote.

Man shot dead in altercation

Nampa, Idaho A 30-year-old man was shot and killed early Saturday in Nampa following what police say was an altercation between the victim and two other people.

The man’s name hasn’t been released by the Nampa Police Department as officials attempt to contact his family.

Investigators believe a shot was fired during the altercation before the suspects fled in a vehicle, according to a statement from the police department.

Officers using police dogs weren’t able to track down the suspects after cordoning off a residential area where officers believed the two had been hiding.

It is the second fatal shooting in Canyon County in three days. On Thursday evening, 41-year-old Brian Hendry was shot in the chest in an apparent argument over a debt.

Police are still looking for Vernon Earl “Skip” Peterson, 46, who they believe shot Hendry.

Patrol stops 100 on U.S. 195

With the help of an airplane, Washington State Patrol troopers made 100 traffic stops along U.S. Highway 195 on Saturday.

WSP troopers are out in force this weekend because of the thousands converging in Rosalia for a motorcycle rally at the same time that students are returning to Washington State University and the University of Idaho, said WSP Trooper Jim Hays.

Of the drivers stopped Saturday, 13 were cited for aggressive driving, one for reckless driving and another for driving under the influence, Hays said.

On Friday, 52 vehicles were stopped by troopers after they were seen from the air breaking the law, Hays said. It will fly again today, probably along U.S. 195.

“We’ve had very busy traffic the whole day,” Hays said Saturday. “Our big success is we’ve had no big collisions.”

Troopers also are out in force along state Highway 26 and U.S. Highway 395, Hays said.

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