Law Enforcement

Fears, Finances, and Frailties

The dude playing “geocache” games hiding stuff on the Rainbow Bridge near Smiths Ferry not only didn’t make friends with cops, he tied up traffic and touched off a series of events which illuminate our public fears and funding.

Just about ANYTHING can trigger a “suspicious package” call these days and often as not it is the Boise police bomb squad or fire department hazardous materials unit (haz-mat) that responds–throughout southwest Idaho.

Nampa has a bomb squad, Ada sheriff has a bomb squad, Boise police has a bomb squad, the Air Force has a bomb squad. One of the unfortunate economic effects of post 9/11 has been a big market in bomb squads. Boise and Ada will probably soon merge their duplicated efforts.

The Feds have the money so Homeland Defense and the ATF train the local cops, pay for equipment and then expect the closest agency to respond to bomb calls. There is probably some behind the scenes exchanges of funds, but in a nut shell, that is how it works.

The Tuesday call at Rainbow Bridge has the cops at all levels clamoring to file civil charges against the guy who placed the bucket of trinkets on the scenic bridge. He probably didn’t break any law, they cannot show intent to commit any illegal act, and any dollar figure for expenses would take longer to prove than it is worth to collect. One official suggested the rockclimber clamp used to hold the bucket on the bridge could qualify as “defacing a historic bridge”…a stretch at best.

The suspicious object was discovered by a highway department crew and it was certainly a legitimate response. It had wires hanging out of a bucket and it was under a bridge.

This is where it gets fuzzy. Three Ada county EMS paramedics also responded 70 miles out of Boise and an EMS official said EMS is “attached” to the Bomb Squad and responds after receiving a FAX from the requesting agency (Valley County). Boise’s police chief told us he was unaware of any agreement or policy that married the EMS with the bomb squad. They expect to collect close to $2,000 for the response

Valley County dispatch told the GUARDIAN the case was handled by Idaho State Police
and referred us to the ISP headquarters.

The ISP said they were merely directing traffic and the captain at the VCSO was actually the “incident commander”.

As it turns out this was merely a false alarm of significant size. What scares us is that EVERYONE was in charge and eager to respond in the initial phase, but when it comes to paying the bills and judging the actions of the day, NO ONE takes credit.

We can’t see that ANYONE did anything wrong, but all concerned should take note and coordinate their efforts, authority, and finances before the next suspicious package is discovered.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. This shines a spotlight on all such incidents. The recent “metamucil” spill at Albertson’s headquarters would have been laughable if the cost to taxpayers wasn’t so significant. It seems that by reading the letter the “powder” was contained in one could have preempted the emergency response. The person was obviously asking questions about the enclosed Metamucil. I know 9/11 changed our lives forever, but the laxative squad likely has better things to do…I guess like remove buckets from the underside of bridges. Consolidation and coordination are both critical in these cases….they are also almost unheard of in paramilitary organizations where real men live to be “one-away”.

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