From Narco-Creeper to Police Chief
William Norman Grigg
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the veteran bureaucrat who was
recently appointed to head the Nampa Police Department,
began his law enforcement career by hanging out near schools and
buying drugs in what should be seen as an attempt to stimulate the
As a 23-year-old
who "looked about 15," Kingsbury would change into "school-type
clothes" and "hang out at the Maverick across from Nampa
High School and attempt to purchase narcotics from kids," the
chief proudly recalls in a
recent front-page profile published by the local statist stenography
assignment as a government-licensed Narco-Creeper only lasted a
couple of weeks, and yielded very little in terms of arrests. Obviously,
it did nothing to protect the persons and property of Nampa residents.
However, it offered the future chief a suitable initiation into
a municipal police department that – like practically every other
in the country – is a predatory armed clique disguised as a public
has a population of roughly 81,000 and a slightly higher-than-average
crime rate. The city takes its name from a physically imposing man
of mixed Cherokee and African ancestry called Nampuh, who came to
be known as "Chief Bigfoot." Indifferently
sourced but plausible legend informs us that Nampuh – a
man who stood more than 6’8" tall joined an Oregon-bound
wagon train in 1856 and fell in love with a young woman who later
jilted him in favor of young artist named Hart.
confronted his romantic rival, Hart taunted him by saying that the
object of their mutual desires would never "marry a big-footed
n*gger like you." Infuriated, Nampuh charged at the young man,
who drew a pistol and shot him in the side. This proved to be little
more than an annoyance to the huge Indian, who grabbed Hart by the
neck, crushed his windpipe, and threw him into the Snake River.
himself to Hart’s weapons and headed to the hills, where – in the
company of a French trapper-turned-criminal named Joe Louis – he
formed a gang that spent the next decade staging raids on settlers,
miners, and wagon trains. Since they were in the business of extracting
money from travelers at gunpoint, it’s tempting to think that the
outlaw band created by Nampuh and Louis was the Treasure Valley’s
first police department.
new appointment as police chief follows a career in which he has
distinguished himself only by his sycophancy. He displayed that
trait to greatest effect by joining in the official persecution
of a small group of whistle-blowers in the department who protested
official corruption and criminal behavior therein.
A little less
than a year ago, Nampa tax victims were handed a bill of $189,000
to settle a
lawsuit filed by three police officers against the Nampa
Police Department. The plaintiffs claimed that former Chief William
Augsburger when he engaged in "retaliatory conduct … because
of Plaintiffs’ protected speech and whistleblowing activities,"
in the words of the
In 2009, the
officers were assigned to the department’s internal affairs division,
where they discovered that waste and fraud were widespread, and
criminal misconduct by officers who used excessive force went unpunished.
They were not the first investigators to discover financial improprieties
in the department.
1995 and 2002, the Nampa PD received more than $2 million
from the "Justice" Department’s Community Oriented Policing
Services (COPS) program to hire 23 full-time police officers and
purchase new equipment. A federal audit in 2004 found that the department
couldn’t properly account for the funds. The amounts mentioned in
that report – which was based on a less-than-rigorous review of
the department – were trivial. The 2009 probe conducted by the internal
affairs division learned that the problems were deep and systemic.
officers – Leonard Claunts, Joseph Huff, and Curtis Shankel – learned
that "the Chief of Police and other command staff (including
a Deputy Chief) golfed during working hours," recounts the
lawsuit. "And they learned that certain supervisors (Lieutenants
and Deputy Chiefs) were performing school related tasks (homework
and studying) while on duty."
While the brass
was golfing at public expense, one officer was running a personal
business while on duty, using his police vehicle to make deliveries
and run errands. Another would routinely disconnect the GPS unit
on his patrol car and spend his shift time at home, where he would
either sleep or beat his wife: The internal affairs investigators
noted that the officer "had been involved in multiple domestic
violence reports and 911 calls."
officer, who had use-of-force issues in the past, used excessive
force when dealing with a suspect, which was witnessed and reported
by a fellow officer," according to the investigators. Another
was in the habit of "showing up for work under the influence
of alcohol yet the safety officer and trainer failed to take action."
"waste of taxpayer dollars" greatly concerned the officers,
but the more urgent problem was the fact that "police officers
were left either unsupervised and without proper supervisory support"
and no effort was made "to take appropriate disciplinary action
against police officers who had misused their authority on repeated
occasions." As a result of that dereliction, "dangerous
police officers were being allowed to continue to do police work
even though they posed a threat to the public and to other officers."
who ordered the officers to conduct the investigation, pointedly
ignored their report. This prompted Sgt. Shankel to write an unsigned
letter to the Mayor and City Council in November 2010 describing
what the inquiry had uncovered. At about the same time, Investigator
Claunts’s wife, Ginger Claunts, independently sent an e-mail to
Nampa Director of Human Resources Ed Simmerman that expressed the
same concerns. Simmerman replied that he and the mayor would "look
into matters … in a very discrete [sic] manner."
spelling error suggests that he is a stranger to the concept of
discretion, and that impression was fortified by his subsequent
actions. Rather than looking into the merit of the complaints lodged
by the officers, he simply forwarded Mrs. Claunts’s e-mail to Chief
Augsburger, with predictable results.
slandered this weekend and I’m going to fire two people today,"
Augsburger groused to the dispatch supervisor following his discussions
with Simmerman. "People are going to get fired over this one."
A few days
later, Chief Augsburger strode angrily into a staff meeting and
demanded that everybody leave except Shankel and Claunts. After
the other employees had left the room, the Chief informed the internal
affairs investigators that he was planning on suing them for defamation
– and "that their home owners insurance would have to kick
in and pay $100,000."
Claunts and his wife received a letter from an attorney representing
Chief Augsburger and then-Deputy Chief Kingsbury threatening them
with a lawsuit if they didn’t retract the complaints made in her
letter to the Human Resources Department. The letter also demanded
that the Claunts reimburse the fees of the attorney who had composed
the extortion note.
Within a few
weeks, all three of the officers had been subjected to punitive
demotions and negative performance reviews. Chief Augsburger dropped
several pregnant hints that in the event of cutbacks, the whistleblowers
would be the first to lose their jobs – and that three others who
had expressed support for them might be the next to go. The chief
and his allies began to refer to that group of principled non-conformists
as the "Satan Six."
When the officers
sought help from Simmerman, the Human Resources Director shrugged
his shoulders, said that his "hands are tied," and that
"everything is in the Chief’s hands per the Mayor." For
his part, Chief Augsburger ignored the investigators’ report and
hired an outside consulting firm called Weaver & Associates
to conduct an internal audit.
which was compiled without any input from the internal affairs investigators,
validated their most important findings. Yet it concluded with a
non-sequitur that could easily have been ghost-written by the chief
himself: The consulting firm concluded that the Nampa PD’s most
urgent problem was "the disruption" caused by the earlier
investigation, and recommended that the whistleblowers be "moved
and/or terminated or disciplined."
The chief commissioned
a second "independent" review to determine if a "hostile
work environment" existed in the department. Since the investigation
consisted of interviews with the command and supervisory personnel
who had been criticized in the original internal affairs inquiry,
its findings were never in doubt.
[of those] interviewed thought that the complaints were a distraction
and caused upheaval in the NPD," observed a section of the
report entitled "Comments on What to Do With Those Causing
the `Tension.’" "One said: `I’m angry that these allegations
were raised. They have been a distraction.’… A number of people
said, `Fire the complainers. Let them go to Boise if they want.’
Another: `There will always be whiners. Let the whiners go; get
rid of them.’"
in question, recall, were internal affairs investigators who had
documented widespread abuse of money extracted from tax victims,
and a culture of impunity in which officers who had committed criminal
offenses were free to continue preying on the public. The department’s
highest priority was to preserve its profitable "public service"
and his henchmen – including future Chief Kingsbury – were seeking
to be rid of the whistleblowers in their ranks, the Nampa PD was
one of several cities selected for a federally
subsidized pilot program involving forced blood tests for
people accused of DUI. Officer Darryll Dowell, who was part of a
"select cadre" of Nampa police assigned to act as "officer
phlebotomists," described to the New York Times how
he would find himself "looking at people’s arms and hands,
thinking, `I could draw from that….’"
of being pinned down and jabbed with a syringe by a policeman is
intended to extort cooperation with breath tests, a less invasive
infection-prone) method of forcing a citizen to submit to
a warrantless search of his person and provide potentially self-incriminating
evidence. This kind of thing is explicitly forbidden by the Bill
of Rights – as if that fact matters anymore.
aren’t the only tax-subsidized predators at large in Nampa. The
Nampa Police Department has also provided cover for sexual
predators who are exploiting child detainees at the state Juvenile
Corrections Center located in that city.
seven employees at the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections
facility in Nampa filed
a whistleblower lawsuit alleging that their supervisors
had permitted female staffers to engage in sexual misconduct with
male detainees. The suit also complained that the IDJC’s "cronyist,
incompetent, corrupt, and unresponsive administration" had
permitted widespread "fraud and waste of public resources,"
promoted unqualified personnel and made them exempt from scrutiny,
and retaliated against employees who expressed concerns to supervisors.
To those aware
of the Nampa PD whistleblower case, some of the complaints made
in that lawsuit will have a familiar flavor.
have been playing golf while clocked in," relates
attorney Andrew Schoppe, who filed the suit on behalf of the dissident
staffers. "Juveniles are having sex with each other" and
staffers are having sex with their prisoners. They are also grooming
successors from within the inmate population, according to one IDJC
member was [sexually] involved with a juvenile," Shane Penrod
told the Boise Weekly. "That juvenile became a staff
member and now they are involved with another juvenile."
weren’t limited to a tiny knot of malcontents: A total of 47 current
and former employees eventually lodged complaints against the agency.
The lawsuit claims that the Nampa Police Department was made aware
of the widespread problems – including sexual misconduct – at the
jail, but did nothing about it.
The IDJC filed
response denying all of the allegations. Sharon Harrigfeld,
director of the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections, issued
a statement reassuring the public "that our facilities
are safe" and thanking "all staff for the public service
provided each day to community safety."
was issued on July 31. At that time, the group Harrigfeld described
as "all staff" included 31-year-old IDJC employee Julie
McCormick, who was arrested several months later and charged
with sexual assault on a 15-year-old boy.
staffer Rhonda Ledford, one of the original plaintiffs in the whistleblower
suit, recalls that employees who saw evidence of McCormick's criminal
conduct expressed concerns to supervisors the previous April, but
were required to sign confidentiality statements about the situation."
the same time the IDJC was trying to tamp down its scandal, the
Nampa PD was successfully burying its own: On
April 27, U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale authorized the
$189,000 settlement and dismissed the whistleblower suit so that
the department could begin the "healing process."
that time, Chief Augsburger who joined the Nampa
PD at age 19 and never spent a subsequent hour earning an honest
living – was certainly feeling no pain. In May 2011, he was able
to retire and begin collecting his pension at age 50. His retirement
ceremony included "presentations from local, state,
and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as stories from friends,"
according to a notice
from the Mayor’s office.
of those "stories" dealt with issues that were raised in the whistleblowers'
lawsuit, which was still active at the time of Augsburger's retirement.
LeRoy Forsman was appointed to keep Augsburger’s chair warm
until his dutiful apprentice, Craig Kingsbury, could be sworn in.
the resume of a public functionary who began his career trying to
lure children into committing acts that would send them to the local
juvenile jail – where they were likely to be sexually exploited
by staffers protected by the same police department that had arrested
unlikely that anybody who lives outside of Nampa would be concerned
about the squalid condition of its municipal police department,
consider this: It’s quite likely, dear reader, that your local police
department is just as bad, if not significantly worse.
Norman Grigg [send him mail]
publishes the Pro
Libertate blog and hosts the Pro
Libertate radio program.
© 2013 William Norman Grigg
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