November 11, 2015

A Commendable Effort

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 11:59 am

19117510-mmmainOpenCdA thinks that Idaho’s Adams County Sheriff Ryan Zollman deserves a sincere thank you from the 300 or so people who attended a town hall meeting in Council on Tuesday night — even if they strongly disagreed with him.

The purpose of the town hall meeting was to let the public directly and personally question Sheriff Zollman about the incident involving two of his deputies and Council rancher Jack Yantis on November 1.  During that incident, Mr. Yantis was killed.

The investigation of the incident is being conducted by the Idaho State Police.  The Idaho Attorney General’s Office has agreed to serve as a special prosecutor at the request of the Adams County Prosecuting Attorney.  

We commend Sheriff Zollman for meeting personally with those who chose to attend the town hall meeting.   It is clear from the Statesman article linked above that Sheriff Zollman tried to explain the challenges and processes the investigators will face while at the same time avoiding saying anything that would compromise or prejudice the ongoing investigation.   They talked.  Good for the citizens for caring enough about their community to show up and talk with the Sheriff.  Good for the Sheriff for caring enough about his community and his staff to show up and talk with the citizens.

While there was no live television or radio coverage of the town hall meeting, some news media representatives did post messages on Twitter.   We followed that coverage last night, and this one posted by Idaho Statesman reporter Rocky Barker caught our eye:

Barker Tweet re Yantis CdA

Barker’s tweet could have several interpretations, one being that someone from Coeur d’Alene had communicated a threat directed at one or more of the parties to the incident.

This morning we contacted Sheriff Zollman and asked that if Barker’s tweet was an accurate characterization of the Sheriff’s comment, would he please clarify exactly what he said regarding “threaten from … Coeur d’Alene” and the context in which he made his comment.  Sheriff Zollman responded that such a call had come from the Coeur d’Alene area.  However, he also explained that he didn’t recall the exact comment made because of the large number of calls his office has received.

We don’t know against whom the threat might have been directed.  The intended recipient’s identity is less important to us than the thought that someone in the Coeur d’Alene area would see any purpose whatsoever in making a threat against any of the parties in this case.

The Idaho State Police will complete its investigation and turn the results over to the special prosecutor designated by the Attorney General’s Office.  A decision about whether any criminal charges will be filed by the State will follow some time later.

We hope that in the meantime, people will accept the criminal justice process even if they don’t respect it or think it will be fair.  Making threats against parties to the incident on November 1 will do nothing to either reduce their pain or improve the criminal and civil justice processes.


  1. Also keep in mind that “Coeur d’Alene” could refer to the city itself, the postal region identified as “Coeur d’Alene,” as well as a larger region.

    Comment by Dan Gookin — November 11, 2015 @ 12:19 pm

  2. Dan,

    It could. In his reply he said, “Coeur d’Alene area,” just as I did in my post.

    Comment by Bill — November 11, 2015 @ 12:28 pm

  3. Or could it be that once again, law enforcement (in general) lack an articulated, professional-level use of the English language?

    I come from a long line of LE, both elected from the ranks and front-line, and from Federal to County to local in each of these branches. All would agree that there is little prerequisite or enhanced training in verbal or written communication short of the effectiveness of the “repeated scream” to get compliance to an order in a tense situation, or in the instance of writing, “when in doubt, leave it out”.

    My bet is most local LEO’s couldn’t even pass High School English. Personally,I think they should be “Honors Students” in both verbal and written equivalencies since all encounters start with talking and end with writing. Any takers to my bet? How about we start with Chisty, the very well liked PIO, and now set to earn $100 an hour teaching her job to her replacement(s).

    Comment by Old Dog — November 11, 2015 @ 1:22 pm

  4. Old Dog,

    Behavioral, technological, and administrative advances in law enforcement come in painfully small increments. Generally speaking, a community gets the quality and face of law enforcement that fits its comfort level. If the community is willing to accept a sheriff who is a graduate of Tinkertoy Tech rather than Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech or Cal Polytech, that’s whom they will elect. Quite often elected officials assiduously avoid hiring chief executive law enforcement officers who are smarter than they and who may be able to play the political game better, too. I think the outcome of former Spokane Chief of Police Dr. Frank Straub’s lawsuit against the City will be interesting. As for Christie Wood, I’ll defend her: She is fully capable of writing her books at the age range of her intended audience.

    Comment by Bill — November 11, 2015 @ 3:36 pm

  5. Bill,

    …of her intended audience…

    Nuff said comical poker breath, they look like great stocking-stuffers.

    And the settlement Spokane gives the good Dr. will just be icing on an already funky cake, especially since his inside hire just got re-elected. That should make settlement more interesting to watch – err, that is if the settlement ever goes public, to which I doubt until way after the fact and a move out of town like others before him.

    Comment by Old Dog — November 11, 2015 @ 9:29 pm

  6. Bill,

    After re-reading my post today, #3 above, it is poorly written. I didn’t mean to be mean to LE who are very proficient in the spoken and written English language–there are quite a few. My sarcasm sometimes writes faster than the final edit, to which sometimes I skip.

    The point I tried to make is that I hope and would enthusiastically promote improvements to verbal and written skills for our law enforcement above all other “improvements” because I think those skills most critical in dealing with our recent trend of situations that make the headlines.

    My recommendation would be that a City the size of CDA, especially when added to K. County, should have a couple of officers on-call 24/7 with specialized, enhanced skills in talking to “mentally disabled”; from the schizophrenic, to stroke victims, to down syndrome, to ADHA, right to the “socially acceptable sociopath”.

    Instead, it seems we keep training more LE so they get enhanced certificates in SWAT-type tactics, keep buying more military-grade weapons and armor – more public information officers, for the pretty spin – but we still allow a six-pack of attorneys to clean-up a police report three months after the fact and a false reassurance that the officer had a body-cam – despite the fact that it captured absolutely nothing due to operator error, or other such flaw in the technology.

    New bet. I bet we can raise $50k in less than a year, which should be enough to send (2) officers to training that enhances verbal and written skills specific to “mentally disabled”. There is my point.

    Comment by Old Dog — November 13, 2015 @ 1:19 pm

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