And part of yesterday’s somewhat contentious City Council Public Safety Committee Meeting was proof positive.
I had to sit through yet another Dog and Pony Power Point Presentation, only this time I had to keep my mouth shut, and refrain from laughing out loud. Fortunately, City Council President Ben Stuckart finally called BS on the Power Point Presentation which was being given Assistant City Attorney Eric Folsom who is the legal advisor for the Spokane Police Department. Council President Stuckart of course didn’t us the words BS rather he chose more appropriate terminology but the meaning was the same, and it shortened up the show.
For folks that aren’t aware SPD has been fighting tooth and nail the Asset Seizure and Forfeiture Ordinance being proposed by Council Member Breean Beggs for quite some time and Folsom’s PP Presentation was SPD’s last ditch effort to prevent passage of the Ordinance, which by the way is in my opinion a good ordinance because it does at least attach some control over how the Forfeiture money SPD takes in is spent, and also requires an independent audit something I’ve been calling for over and over. Having provided CM Beggs with some input regarding the Ordinance, and having been there done that I had to work hard at not laughing out loud when Folsom started to utilize Power Points from the Department of Justice’s “Guide to Equitable Sharing for State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies” linked below instead of the actual Federal Statute.
Folsom tried to hang his hat on the Guide’s, and that is what it is … just a Guide, on the references to “Chief Law Enforcement Officer” it didn’t work and CP Stuckart made it clear that it was a “legal argument” apparently had been researched by the City Council’s Attorney, and possibly others I’m sure. The money SPD gets from Equitable Sharing with Feds primarily comes from 18 U.S.C. § 982. Criminal Forfeiture, however there are many, many Federal Statutes which allow local law enforcement agencies to share money the Feds grab. Once again last night I went through the Federal Statues to see if they are silent regarding “Chief Law Enforcement Officer” help yourself maybe I missed it.
So why did Folsom try and hang his hat on Equitable Sharing when it makes up only a portion of the money SPD gets from Asset Forfeiture? You got me, the only thing I can think of is that it was about all he had. If you are interested the link below shows how much money SPD directly got directly from the Feds in 2016.
Keeping in mind that the City’s Forfeiture and Contributions Fund fluctuates depending upon the number of assets, including land, the City can seize in any given period. It is fun to draw a comparison between the $32, 975 the Feds shared with SPD in 2016 with the balance of $66,455 Mayor Condon reported to the City Council on February 13th, 2017.
Also, don’t forget the State always gets their piece of the pie, which on February 13th, 2017 was $12, 341.04. You can do your own math.
With respect to how the F & C Fund fluctuates, this should give you an example:
The SPD emphasis on Asset Forfeiture can indisputably be traced to Frank Straub, and obviously that emphasis continues with Craig Meidl, although the new Ordinance might put a cramp in that style.
After this Senior Staff Meeting on July 9th, 2014 it was a Full Court Press!
“My sense is that the (seized assets) were low … because we’re not paying enough attention to it,” Straub said.
According to city documents, drug busts have brought diminishing returns in recent years. In 2010, more than $380,000 was brought in to the forfeitures and fines fund. But next year, just $250,000 is expected.
Apparently, Mr. Folsom is the Attorney from City Hall that was assigned to the Full Court Press.
The Full Court Press did create some problems though, where do you put all that stuff you seize on State Felony Seizures?
One thing you don’t do, as City Attorney Folsom correctly pointed out, when you got all those vehicles is let cops pick and choose which seized vehicles they want to use for rides, and if you do … don’t talk about it.
Okay enough of that frivolity and on to more fun Stuff!
MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL!!!!
The McMurtrey case and my PRR was brought up by CM Beggs, who rightly questioned why if Craig Meidl though it was the most atrocious conduct he had seen in his career wasn’t it brought to the attention of the OPO like SPD is required to do. Of course, the answer was certainly less than adequate by any reasonable person’s standards. Shortly thereafter Assistant Chief Justin Lundgren jumped in stating that SPD had done nothing wrong. I don’t know OPO Logue very well, I’ve only met with him a couple of times, so don’t have a real read on him, but his response to Lundgren’s statement clearly demonstrates why he ended up being an Officer, and I was just a lowly NCO, my reaction would have been far less restrained. Interestingly, since much of this involved what Logue did not know about IA cases when I did meet with him I was surprised he didn’t know as much as I did. Logue did shoot back with the McMurtrey case and the Curt Kendall case.
Beggs and Stuckart both pressed the issue of why IA Cases aren’t posted in their entirety like the have been in the past, and of course the explanation was that SPD is going to a IA Synopsis format like Seattle PD/OPA use. I knew that one was coming so I handed Jacqui MacConnell copies of posted Seattle/OPA Sustained and Not Sustained IA Cases which are done the way they should be, one of which includes recommendations made by the Seattle OPA to the Seattle Police Chief in the Synopsis. The CC was of course provided with copies of the same cases I gave MacConnell. Incorporating Spokane OPO recommendations into the posted IA Synopsis would be a good idea.
You might want to notice that Seattle PD/OPA use the “Preponderance of Evidence Standard”, like most other law enforcement agencies, rather than the higher “Clear and Convincing Standard” SPD for some unknown reason uses. Having had a peek at the new proposed OPO Ordinance CC Beggs is working on I know that the proposal includes using the “Preponderance of Evidence Standard” which is the National Standard for IA Cases.
Another thing you might want to know is that because Seattle PD, unlike Spokane, is under a Consent Decree based upon the DOJ Patterns and Practice Investigation of their Department you don’t see the Easy Out over there like you do here in Spokane all the time.
One of many:
The reason Seattle continues IA Investigations even though the Cop retires or quits is to determine where along the line someone other than the Cop that took off screwed up, including Brass.
What were Meidl’s and Lundgren’s excuse for why they aren’t able to get the job done?
The usual pat answer… “We don’t have enough staff!”
The question is will the City Council buy it. Looks like CP Stuckart might not because he shot in the question about the delayed Patrol Staffing Analysis and clarified that it only covered Patrol Staffing.
Maybe CP Stuckart really does read my stories? Hope he reads this one!
Let’s do this by the numbers, even though SPD has now deleted IA Cases prior to 2016 … I wonder why?
2011- 69 IA Cases
2012-84 IA Cases
2013-117 IA Cases
2014-68 IA Cases
2015-88 IA Cases
2016-50 IA Cases of which only 18 synopses have been posted.
I’m not sure how SPD was able to get all 117 IA Cases posted in 2013 with less staff, but they did. With a little over nine cases per month I wouldn’t think it would take any overtime, and with just over four cases per month one would think 2016 would be a piece of cake.
Of course, I’ve learned over the course of time law enforcement data never does line up.
How about this for a staffing idea? Make Brady Cops Lydia Taylor and Sandra McIntyre official redactors instead of paper clip counters? Yes… I know how could you trust them!
It got kind of weird when Justin Lundgren told the PSC that posting the IA Cases creates a records retention problem because once posted on the internet they are there forever and could violate the Washington State Records Retention Schedule which is six years. I hope some IT Techie can get with Justin and help him figure out how to prevent document caching and indexing.
For those that don’t remember we went through this entire exercise back in 2012 when the City went to the expensive OnBase by Hyland system and the systems redaction capabilities were touted.
Even though there were a lot of Cops at the PSC meeting the only time I got the good old evil eye, at least that I know of was when I asked Justin Lundgren “Whatever happened to that expensive redaction software we bought?” his response was that it still takes time to load it.
Did I give you folks a clue that I ain’t buying the understaffed excuse? I wonder if the City Council will. I won’t bother to go into the emails back and forth between Tim Schwering and Nancy Isserlis on this very issue.
It was nice to say hello to Jacqui MacConnell again even though I knew it would raise some eyebrows among the cops present. Based upon what I know of her she has been a Cop long enough she would be used to those kind of things.