(Continued from Part One published April 3, 2016)
SPD’S CRIMINAL INTELLIGENCE UNIT
The first Spokane Police Department “Intelligence Unit” was established in 1973 prior to EXPO 74 in anticipation of the influx of Organized Crime Activity in Spokane as a result of the upcoming World’s Fair. The Intelligence Unit was to be setup in what was then the Administrative Vice Intelligence and Narcotics Unit. The ADVIN Unit reported directly to the Chief of Police which was standard throughout the US because of the high possibility of corruption in areas of Intelligence, Vice, and Narcotics. That ADVIN Unit was not without problems and there were several media stories regarding those problems which included an undercover Drug Cop getting hooked on crack, the Unit Commander becoming involved with a former Mafia Associate in business dealings, and the case that resulted in the Gypsy Curse, to name a few.
The term “Intelligence Unit” back then was a bit of a misnomer in that there really wasn’t a “Unit” per say. The staffing level was one Detective who had just passed the Detective’s exam and was chosen out of several other candidates to set up and run the “Unit”. Many people would also probably suggest that because of the Detective chosen the term “Intelligence” was also a misnomer. Yes, as you might have guessed…it was me. SPD sent me all over the place for training and to work with other “Intelligence Units” so I could setup SPD’s. Part of my duties was to establish strict policy regarding the handling of Intelligence Information as many other Intelligence Units throughout the US had been caught gathering and maintaining illegal intelligence files. Close to home was Seattle PD and here are a couple of old media reports that will give you some idea of what was going on in some departments.
In 1978, I transferred out of the ADVIN/Intelligence Unit to become a Homicide Detective something I always wanted. In the mid-80s my Division Captain, a good guy, and one of those former Marine types, sent me back into the ADVIN to try and clean up one of the messes that had developed there that assignment also included auditing the Intel Files. That Captain is also one of the retired SPD cops that reads my stories and knows what is currently going on at SPD. So he will probably get a kick out of this one. I still haven’t had an opportunity to give him crap about some of the rotten jobs he stuck me with…so consider it done Captain! 🙂 Of course he wasn’t the only Captain to assign me rotten jobs…another retired SPD Captain (Army Korean War Vet) who reads my stories did as well.
During my Post-SPD career I have had several cases involving Intelligence Information and Files at both the Federal and State level, so I have had to keep current on the issue.
You might wonder what all of this “Background” has to do with our Q & A with Meidl and Lundgren…it has to do with my BS Meter, and what may or may not set it off.
I should also note that a long time prior to the Q & A I recommended to some City Council Members that they consider passing a City Ordinance similar to the one Seattle passed after Seattle’s Intelligence Unit was exposed. The recommendation was made because of some information I had received about local law enforcement’s collection and retention of Intelligence Information. I never heard back but maybe when they read this story they will give it more thought.
THE Q & A AND CIU:
During the Q & A I asked Interim Chief Meidl the staffing level of SPD’s Criminal Intelligence Unit. It was a tough question for him and he didn’t seem to know for sure, Justin Lundgren helped him out to an extent and we ended up with that SPD’s CIU now consists of one Supervisor who also Supervises the Narcotics Unit and one Detective who is assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force. When I asked where SPD maintains their Intelligence Files, Lundgren joked as to why I wanted to know and whether or not I was planning on burglarizing SPD. My joking response was, that I didn’t need to because I had enough bugs and wiretaps going, Meidl jokingly responded “We found them all!”. As you can see it was a pretty congenial Q & A. I then asked if the single CIU position was federally funded and was told that it isn’t.
I asked if either of them knew whether or not SPD CIU maintained automated and hard copy files of Intel Files and who audited those files. Lundgren said that IA used to audit the Intelligence files but they hadn’t done it in years, and neither Meidl or Lundgren knew if anyone is auditing today, although Meidl did say that because the SPD Cop is assigned to the Federal Joint Terrorism Task Force the files are the Fed’s Files and not SPD’s. Those answers didn’t work too well for me so I asked if they were aware that they had an agreement with the County to give all of SPD’s automated files to the Spokane County Sherriff, I got a strange look from both and they indicated they didn’t know…but I sure did.
Needless to say the Ole BS Meter started to tick, but Meidl explained his not knowing by using the drinking through a firehose analogy. In other words, he has been inundated with a whole bunch of stuff in his new job as Interim Chief of Police, which could very well be true, but it is something that needs addressed…and soon.
What was troubling to me, because of some of the answers given by Meidl and Lundgren, was that I have in my possession of a copy of this SPD document which was prepared on June 25th, 2015 showing how SPD CIU was staffed on that date.
The staffing document shown above is quite scary to me for a number of reasons, I won’t get into all of them but here are a few and perhaps you can figure out why I find it scary.
1) SPD Cop, James Collins, is shown as assigned to the JTTF but his contact information is listed as Mark Sterk’s from Spokane Public Schools…the only thing I can say at this point is…” Wow!”.
2) Mark Dean, from the US Border Patrol is listed as a part of SPD’s CIU…remember the all the hoopla about the relationship between SPD and the Border Patrol?
3) SPD Cop, Jeff Harvey, who apparently works “(Pawns)” is/was in SPD’s CIU…kind of interesting to me.
4) SPD Cop, Harlan Harden, who apparently works “(Human Trafficking)” is/was in SPD’s CIU…could be dangerous depending upon what intel is collected and retained.
Even more interesting, to me anyway, is the CIU Analytical Section, which is/was made up of Craig Brenden who is a former SPD Cop, and was at one time working for the City as a Code Enforcement Officer, Thomas Wickesser from the National Guard (I think he is paid by the Guard…but I’m not sure), and SPD Sr Crime and Intelligence Analyst Tom Michaud.
Obviously if SPD’s CIU has an analytical section there must be data and reports to analyze…the question is what are they and do they conform to LEIU Standards and all the Federal Stuff.
As fate would have it, although I had a copy of SPD’s CIU Staffing Document in my brief case, and was going to show it to Meidl and Lundgren, then ask a number of questions I had…TIME RAN OUT and I wasn’t able to. From the answers I did receive from Meidl and Lundgren regarding auditing of SPD Intel Files it seems, among other things, SPD is no longer a member of LEIU.
If Interim Chief Meidl remains true to his word I will have another opportunity for a Q & A where I will be able to ask more questions, if not, as some are speculating, then other people had better get off their butts.
One thing that did happen during the CIU discussion was when I remarked that Intel Files were a matter of public record. Justin looked at me kind of funny and said “Intelligence Files”, I knew what he was thinking, the Washington State Public Records Act Exempts Intelligence Files, but as is true for any record even though it might take a court action. I think when Justin reads this story he will know where I was coming from.
I still haven’t received a response from some folks yet, maybe today since it is a working day. If and when I get a response I will have more.
As a lead in to my next story we got some real interesting info regarding this COPS/DOJ Recommendation and where it stands today.
I thought the information was interesting anyway. I know Rachel took note of some of it and will probably update the SR website when she gets a chance, but my approach might be a little different so stay tuned.
I REPORT YOU DECIDE!!!