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Meeting Minutes
April 23, 2011

Attendees

  • John Bechtel
  • Vern Bisterfeldt
  • Tom Dale
  • Tammy de Weerd
  • John Evans
  • David Ferdinand
  • Brad Holton
  • Vicki Thurber

Absent

  • Dave Bieter
  • Scott Dowdy
  • George Hyer
  • Nate Mitchell
  • Garret Nancolas
  • Craig Telford

Staff and Guests

  • Delhie Block
  • Elizabeth Connor
  • Jim Reynolds
  • Bryon Taylor
  • John Taylor
  • Bill Larsen

John Evans opened the meeting and welcomed everyone to the Garden City Operations Center.

Sex Crime Prosecution in the Treasure Valley

John introduced Bryon Taylor, the Canyon County Prosecutor. Bryon stated hey had received a grant recently to target non-compliant sex offenders. He wanted the Partnership to think about expanding the current SAUSA Project to include sex offender prosecution and investigation.

The gang SAUSA has been an incredible project and his office has been fortunate to be involved with housing this person.

A number of studies through the FBI and a bunch of research organizations indicate that sex offenses are on the rise. Of those who are sex offenders in the State, 40 percent live in the Treasure Valley. One of the big problems with this population is the ability to monitor their where-a bouts. Once people find out who they are, they move around. Resources are very limited with respect to investigators and prosecutors to target these individuals.

In 2006, the Adam Walsh Act created the national sex offender registry. Last year, a group of individuals from Ada, Canyon and Bannock County received a grant to assist in implementing the Adam Walsh Act. In the grant, they identified four primary aspects they wanted to cover in a two year period. Theye wanted to reevaluate how we monitored sex offenders, how we were going to provide community education, increasing specialization in investigating these criminals and fourth, prosecution.

In regard to monitoring, there is a program called offender watch. One of the goals with regard to the task force was to make this state-wide. This is a shared data base among law enforcement that allows different jurisdictions to tap into the information on where individuals are living. One of the frustrations among prosecutors is the fact that this population tends to move around a lot. Once a person is identified in the system and all the required documents are gathered on an individual. When they move, this information can just transferred to the new jurisdiction.

The second component of this grant is education. One of their primary goals is to understand these individuals, sex offenders. Through the grant, they put on a two-day training with national speakers that was attended by about 250 participants from throughout the State.

In regards to investigation and prosecution, much like the gangs, this world takes a lot of specialized knowledge to monitor and track these individuals. Over the last three months, they have made over 115 face-to-face contacts with registered sex offenders in Canyon and Ada Counties and 19 in Bannock County. The goal is to make sure that everyone is following the rules with regards to registration requirements.

Out of these, 14 individuals have been charged with failure to register. Without this grant, these individuals would fly under the radar with their registration requirements. When an individual gets picked up in one of our jurisdictions regarding a failure to register, Tony gets a call. He is familiar with the individuals and understands them. This has the effect of relieving these special cases from individual jurisdictions to an individual who is trained in this field.

Bryan indicated there is also an individual who is working out of the Canyon County Prosecutor’s Office that acts like a SAUSA and is cross-deputized and can prosecute cases federally.

John Evans asked what the threshold is that allows cases to be prosecuted federally. If an individual arrives from out of state then we can prosecute them in federal court. Bryon added that we are seeing a lot of child pornography and enticement cases. Any time you send an email it becomes an inter-state communication and you can prosecute under federal law.

Jim Reynolds asked how you differentiate for example, say a male parent swats his child’s behind and gets charged with a sex offense. Bryan indicated, under State law, they have to show that there was some sort of sexual intent or gratification as a result of the swatting. If they can show sexual intent or gratification then it becomes a sexual offense versus a disciplinary action.

Offender Watch as well as investigation and prosecution of these cases are making us much quicker in response time. Offender Watch allows the community to be much more involved with monitoring the where a bouts of these individuals.

The grant they have been operating this program under goes through September of 2012. Bryon would like to get the Partnership to consider, like they have with the Gang SAUSA, to pick up the funding of this program after the grant runs out.

David Ferdinand asked how these prosecutions help in the State’s Department of Correction’s budget. Is it similar to the Gang SAUSA where they go directly to Federal Prison instead of State facilities? When you mention the Treasure Valley Partnership, his thought is how the State can capitalize on saved expenses to justify funding?

Bryon stated that money is going to be saved from a number of different directions. One is state-wide corrections facilities. When you decided to prosecute one of these cases federally, then the state institution is relieved of having to house this individual. Second, when these people are not registering, the research is showing that these individuals are doing things they shouldn’t be doing. But it is hard right now to quantify, how this program is saving children from being abused. Third, in Canyon County at least, when a case is identified it is shifted off to Toni, and the local jurisdiction is saved from the expense of investigation and prosecution. For example, Toni has gone out and checked on 203 different individuals to make sure they are in compliance. This is a full-time detective that the Cities cannot afford.

Tammy deWeerd stated that we understand there are different levels of offenses and they are very interested in those offenders that don’t register because they don’t want to be found. There are also those that don’t register because their offense is not quite the same as others that are moving around. For example an individual that gets in trouble as an eighteen year old because he had a sixteen year old girlfriend. She asked where resources are being spent. Is it on all sex offenders or on the top tier?

Bryon stated that they are trying to conduct business like we have in the gang model and are trying to take out the upper tier. Unfortunately, the State of Idaho has put a hold on the violent sexual predator labeling. But, at this stage, all offenders have to register and we don’t have the ability to classify individuals based on the level of their offense. And the Offender Watch, at this time has no ability to delineate the different levels.

In regards to the eighteen year old and who is charged with having statutory rape from having a sixteen year old girl friend. He does have to register, but at the end of ten years, that person can petition the court to remove the sexual predator label and the requirement to register. This does happen quite frequently. Also, if your convicted as a sex offender as a juvenile, when you turn 21, you can also petition the court to remove yourself from the registry.

Tom Dale thanked Bryon for coming and informing us on what is happening in this area in the Valley. As kind of a reality check, it is very unlikely that we would have funds to go beyond our funding of the current SAUSA Project. For the last couple years, Bill and he have went in front of the Idaho Criminal Justice Commission to pitch having the State pick up the funding of the SAUSA Project based on the money this project is saving the State. He encouraged Bryon to make the same case that the Federal Prosecution of these sex offenders saves the State money and the State should pitch in and fund it. However at this time, the Partnership is not in a position to fund any additional projects like this.

Sex Offender Program – Garden City

John Evans introduced John Taylor with the Garden City Police Department. John Taylor stated he is a Patrol Sergeant, not a detective. In September of 2000, a flight attendant came into Boise and was staying in the Riverside in Garden City. She ended up becoming a victim of a very violent homicide. The predator was subsequently caught and it was found out that he was a sex offender. In 2001, the Garden City Patrol Sergeants got together and committed to not let that happen again. They took it upon themselves to start the program of tracking sex offenders in Garden City. By statute, the Sheriff’s office is responsible for tracking sex offenders. In Ada County there are over 800 sex offenders. On part-time person is responsible for tracking all the sex offenders in Ada County.

The ability to share information sex offenders through Offender Watch would be fantastic. What this program is intended to do, is what the Garden City Police Department has been doing since 2001.

Garden City is divided up into five different patrol areas. Each area is assigned a Patrol Sergeant who is responsible for what goes on in their area. Citizens then have one point of contact for what goes on in any particular area. Each Patrol Sergeant has a book with all the information on each sex offender that lives in that area. It is the Sergeant’s responsibility to go out and check with each of these sex offenders at least once every two months. At any particular time there are between 59-60 sex offenders living in the City.

Since 2001 they have had 362 sex offenders pass through Garden City. They have packets of information on each one of these sex offenders. In 2007, a group of citizens got together and started steering the direction they wanted Garden City to go. One of the problems this steering committee recognized was the inordinate amount of sex offenders in Garden City. This Steering Committee came up with some laws and policies for dealing with sex offenders. One of these was a law that stated just where a sex offender could live. For example, in Garden City, a sex offender can not live within 1,000 feet of a school. This is double the State requirement.

Tom Dale asked if a sex offender moves, are they required to notify the Police Department. John indicated that under State Code if you are a sex offender and move jurisdictions, you have two business days to register in the county in which you move.

John Taylor continued that when we know that a registered sex offender is living in a restricted address, an officer goes out and make contact with the individual and tell them they have to move.

Taxi Ordinances

John mentioned that representative from Boise Taxi approached the Partnership during the Kuna meeting in regards to unregulated taxi’s that are creating service problems and requested a consistent standard for taxi cab companies. Boise City is in the process of revising their code and the revisions are not ready at this time. Bill stated that he had included a copy of the current Boise City Taxi Cab Ordinance and a draft of a new ordinance that the Cities of Nampa and Caldwell are working on.

Tom stated they are trying to have some good definitions for what a bus, a shuttle and a taxi cab. For example, in the City of Nampa there are operators that are calling themselves shuttles so they don’t have to be licensed as a taxi cab. One of the other things they are doing center around safety concerns. They are going to require a safety inspection. In order to do this, they will need to establish a safety authority where these businesses can take their vehicles. As it sits right at the moment, it is pretty much open. In Nampa and Caldwell there are some real scary vehicles driving around calling themselves taxi cabs.

John Evans asked if there is any emphasis to address drivers. Tom Dale stated that they will have to undergo a background check. They are in the process of defining that background check so that it gets at the information needed for public safety.

Tammy deWeerd stated the City of Meridian has put together an internal committee to address the issue. First they have looked at land-use designations to make sure any fleet operations are in commercial/industrial areas. They are looking at the City Licenses. Instead of adding another layer, they already have a mobile sales unit license and are considering putting it under this ordinance. They are addressing; background checks, making sure taxi’s clearly post their rates, making sure they have driver’s licenses, proof of insurance and there prohibitions for certain criminal offenses. They are not going to be looking at vehicle inspections.

John Evans mentioned that the representative from Boise Taxi had a couple of goals. The first goal was to control his competition so that everybody was operating from the same standards. The secondary thing he mentioned was that cabs are running all over the place and are inter-jurisdictional. So does it make sense to have some pretty common ordinances across the valley? Among the group other than sharing what each other are doing, does it make sense to have taxi cab ordinances with a common thread among jurisdictions? Tom Dale felt that we could continue to share what each jurisdiction is doing and maybe on issues like safety, we could have some fairly uniform language.

John Evans stated as a small City, they are not going to spend a lot of resources on this. They would probably piggy-back on what the bigger jurisdictions figure out.

Director’s Report

Bill mentioned that the Census figures for Owyhee County have been determined and he pointed to a new Dues structure based on the 2010 Census. Bill added that Tom Dale, John Bechtel and he were going to be talking with the Owyhee County Commission as soon as a date can be found.

* Update * Tom, John and Bill will be meeting with the Owyhee County Commission on June 13th.

John Evans asked if anyone knew the Mayor of Homedale and Marsing and would be willing to approach them about being involved with the Partnership.

Tom Dale moved and Vern Bisterfeldt seconded to approve the minutes and financial report. Motion carried.

Meeting adjourned.