City Government

“Joint” Investigation Flying Under Radar

Strong praise from the GUARDIAN to Boise City officials and staff for their timely response to our record requests regarding the November 19 incident at the Boise airport tower when controllers failed to answer radio calls.

In response to BOISEGUARDIAN requests for information regarding the “joint” investigation which led police to suspect marijuana was either being smoked at the FAA facility or that air traffic controllers were under the influence, we received dozens of pages of e-mails and reports.

Here are some key points:
–Both the FAA and Boise officials (from the city council on down) were informed about the release of information.
–To their credit, Boise officials required the FAA to make formal requests for the various reports and documents.
–One of the ATC controllers who was involved in the incident filed a records request on his own behalf to learn what Boise police and airport officials were reporting.
–A meeting scheduled Dec. 2 between an FAA special agent and Boise airport officials was cancelled. The investigator from Renton, Wa. wrote to Boise’s director of operations, “Thanks to the information you provided, the FAA has collected enough information to move forward with taking action in this instance.”
–Boise officials made it clear to FAA that drug testing was available in Boise 24/7.
–When aircraft could not contact the tower, a Boise operations worker eventually cleared them to land by radio from his pick up truck.
–Police, fire, and EMS war dispatched at the request of the Boise ops worker who was checking runway lights. He was unable to reach the tower on any of the frequencies used for air or ground operations. A red phone known as the “crash phone was used,” and no one responded, prompting the dispatch of coppers and firefighters.
–The ops worker said the ATC operator on duty was confused and repeated aircraft tail numbers in error while he was in the tower with the police.
–To a man, every responder reported smelling the aroma of marijuana at the tower facility. No one was able to determine if it was in their clothing, in the air, or elsewhere.
–One e-mail exchange between city workers described the incident as “not a way to build bridges” (between the city and FAA).

The GUARDIAN has tried in vain to get someone–anyone–from the FAA to assure us the workers were drug tested in a timely manner and passed–despite all indications to the contrary from police and airport witnesses.

Finally, it would be nice to know if the guys are still working in the tower controlling aircraft coming in and going out of the Boise airport.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Aroma of corruption
    Dec 16, 2016, 4:42 pm

    Be fun to do a surprise drug test on all of our holier than thou politicians. I’m guessing many would test positive for cocaine and marijuana. Also, randomly kick in the doors of residences worth over a million dollars and run the drug dogs around. We’d likely find the motherload of illegal drugs.

    EDITOR NOTE–The issue here is safety, not status or income. A pilot would be grounded and removed from the cockpit if he smelled of weed or booze. Same rule should apply to ATC folks. IT is foolish for FAA to not let us know when the drug tests were administered and whether or not the guys are still in the tower.

  2. Is this an actual investigation of the Boise Coppers, or does it fall under the FBI.

    Of course nothing will get done until someone dies because of an error.

    EDITOR NOTE–The issue is mostly employer-employee. The facility is 100% FAA, so jurisdiction is not real clear. Investigation has been conducted by law enforcement agents of the FAA.

  3. No buzzing the tower.
    Dec 17, 2016, 6:12 pm

    Every structure within Boise should have a fireman’s key to enter. Let’s just say for example the guy was on the floor and needed assistance? How do they get in? Perhaps rope down to the roof hatch? Smash the door with the swat truck?

    I think the FAA knows they got people taking a nap all of the country during slack time. Just close the tower at night and save the money. We just proved we didn’t needed it open at that time anyway.

  4. Most buildings have ‘Knox Boxes’ (first company that made them), at the main entrance, with a key to the door inside. Firefighters have a master key to the Knox Box.

    I’ll bet Fed’s are so arrogant they don’t want Knox boxes on their facilities because ‘there’s always someone inside.’ Awake? That’s another matter.

  5. A lot of effort being spent on something labeled as an “employer-employee” issue.

    As the Guardian mentions, a pilot would be grounded and/or removed from flying if smelled of weed….
    So what if a BPD officer detected weed as the pilot walked past the officer somewhere on airport premise… and the officer did nothing?
    Still and employer-employee issue?

    I repeat, it is a foul on the BPD as well.

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