Monday, February 3, 2014

The Privileged Poacher on the Police Payroll

Officer Frank G. Bowne is at the center, with Koda.

Frank G. Bowne is a hunter by profession. Bowne is a K9 handler and SWAT operator with the Post Falls, Idaho Police Department. He and his canine companion, a German Shepherd named Koda, occasionally pursue criminal suspects. More frequently they can be found in pursuit of cash and other property that can be seized through “asset forfeiture” as part of the demented exercise called the War on Drugs. 

Law enforcement agencies have found this practice to be very lucrative in sparsely populated northern Idaho. Since the agencies conducting those seizures don’t have to prove that the property owner committed a crime – or even provide a full accounting of their haul – the practice could be considered a form of state-sanctioned poaching

Post Falls is a very small town in northern Idaho with an unremarkable crime rate. Yet local police and sheriff’s office have two full-time K9 units, and will soon have a third. This means job security for Bowne, whose background should have disqualified him for employment as a “peace officer.” Before being hired by the Post Falls PD as a government-licensed poacher, he was terminated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office after being found guilty of poaching -- of the private variety -- in Colorado.

SWAT cosplay for the Post Falls PD.
In October 2003, several residents of Bayfield, Colorado, a village not far from the Four Corners region, heard gunshots near a local ranch. When they went to investigate they found three men lounging by a truck with California license plates. The men took off after the residents said they were going to ask authorities to investigate a suspected act of trespass and poaching. 

Colorado Division of Wildlife investigator Cary Carron arrived the following morning and found a dead deer on private property bordering a county road. The animal had been killed after dark by a shooter who had used a spotlight. In the company of several other officers, Carron tracked down the vehicle at a hunting camp near Sauls Creek. Bowne was among the ten hunters who were questioned by the investigators, and like all of his colleagues he insisted that he knew nothing about the killing of the deer the previous night. 

The pickup truck was seized, and investigators collected sufficient forensic evidence (such as boot and tire tracks, and spent shell casings) and witness statements to identify Bowne as the shooter. In his official investigative report, Carron described how Bowne lied to him, lied to Officer Mike Stefanak of California’s Fish and Game Department, and obstructed the inquiry conducted by Lt. Rick Jennings, an internal affairs investigator with the LA County Sheriff’s Office. 

After a felony arrest warrant was issued for Bowne, the deputy agreed to a deal in which he pleaded guilty to an “illegal take” of a deer. He paid $4,199 in fines and court costs, and was fired by the LA County Sheriff’s Office. 

Bowne lost his job in May 2004. Like other disgraced California police officers before him, he followed the “gypsy cop” ratline to Idaho, where he was able to get a job a little more than two years later. According to the Idaho POST Council, Bowne received his “basic” certification in June 2006. In order for this to happen, Bowne either concealed his background, the POST Council failed to conduct a rudimentary background check, or both parties simply ignored the legally binding standards governing peace officer certification in Idaho.

The POST Council is instructed to de-certify any police officer who has committed any felony or misdemeanor, or who “Willfully or otherwise falsifies or omits any information to obtain any certified status.” If Bowne’s poaching offenses were made known to the Council, he wouldn’t have been certified. If he withheld information about that offense – and his deceitful behavior in trying to cover up that crime – he should be immediately de-certified. 

Bowne (2nd from r.) and friends strike a pose.
“I were in charge of that decision, [Bowne] never would have been allowed to go to POST in Idaho,” a former sheriff’s deputy and police officer told me after I provided the details of the case to him. “He lied about things that should have kept him from being an officer again… If he lied once he will do it again. Like if you are an officer and go to court to testify and you lie, the judge can never trust anything you say from that point.”

Another retired deputy (who has also worked in the state probation and parole system) ruefully told me that he wasn’t surprised that POST cleared Bowne despite his background.

“He could have received a waiver from POST, but his employer would have to vouch for him,” the former deputy suggested. “Unfortunately POST won't tell you if a special panel did review his case.”

That prediction was quickly vindicated. When I filed a public records request to find out if POST had granted Bowne a special waiver, the agency denied that request, insisting that it was exempt from disclosure as a “personnel” matter.

Under a strict and rational application of the law, Frank G. Bowne was never legitimately certified as a peace officer in the State of Idaho. That means he is engaged in what the state code (18-1711) refers to as “Unlawful exercise of [the] functions of peace officers,” a felony punishable by up to five years in prison

However, as is so often the case in the racket called “law enforcement,” Bowne and those who protect him assume that they are exempt from the laws they supposedly uphold.

“It’s a possibility that Bowne got his certification because he knows someone of importance in Post Falls or elsewhere in Idaho,” commented the second former deputy. “The fact that he lied to the LA investigators and hindered the investigation -- and yet was apparently given a waiver in Idaho -- tells me he knows someone.”

“I can tell from first-hand experience” that such corrupt “professional courtesy” is commonplace, he continued. “I have seen a Sheriff who wouldn't keep an officer on unless he or she would lie to keep their job. An officer who will lie to keep his or her job will be invaluable to a dishonest official.”
From Post Falls PD's 2012 Annual Report.
During the now-notorious hunting trip to Colorado, Bowne saw nothing amiss in trespassing on posted private property. That is a habit of mind he has retained as a police officer in Post Falls.

As I noted here recently, Bowne and his partner, Officer Frank Uhrig, invaded the home of Melissa Ward in a warrantless midnight raid in December 2011.

Ignoring a lawful order by Ward to stay out of her house, the officers assaulted the woman in front of her terrified daughter, then carried out an illegal search of the dwelling after claiming to smell marijuana. At a hearing several months later the judge acknowledged that the search was illegal and dismissed drug-related charges that had been filed against Ward and her boyfriend.

Two years earlier, Bowne was named in a tort claim filed by Post Falls resident Lori Denise Howard, which accused him of committing “an illegal trespass” on her property and subjecting her to “an illegal arrest” involving “excessive force and violence.”

Howard wasn’t able to pursue that claim: Charged with the spurious crime of “resisting arrest,” she was quickly processed into the Sisyphean hell called the probation and parole system.

Meanwhile, Bowne – who, unlike Howard, has repeatedly done violence to the persons and property of others -- continues to make a comfortable living as a privileged poacher in the employ of the Post Falls Police Department.

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Dum spiro, pugno!



Anonymous said...

Similar to wild animals that are too used to feeding
from people's hands
or garbage cans and
they loose any fear
of approaching people
or homes and gardens
that might contain
what they want.
Usually, the animal
is captured and
released somewhere
else or they are
euthanized. I think
this guides the
actions of law
abiding citizens
no longer protected
by law enforcement
or when law
enforcement becomes
a predator.

Yossarian said...

Will, have you heard of Topical Bibles? This one asks “What Does the Bible Say About Police?” Cops write in and vote on their favorite Bible phrases that they think pertain ONLY to them. Here’s a few:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

“For he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

“Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.”

“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

How truly sickening. They also picked a verse telling them (just them) to be “bold as lions.” Yet every statue I see that they have built in their own honor shows them fainting. Perhaps God’s work is too hard for them. Solving a murder case decades after it happened has got to be wearying.

I watch a lot of Investigation Discovery on TV. I noticed once that a sign over a homicide squad room said “WE WORK FOR GOD.” Really? You work for the prince of the power of the air and no one else. The only time the police manage to get anything right is when Satan has to sneeze and closes his eyes for a split second. And then, I saw the sign again and again and again. They think they work for God because they are the only voice of the victim. God has given them special powers, like they’ll say “Once you smell a dead body, you never forget it.” Yet, when they made one of their many visits to John Gacy’s house, who had 33 “runaways” buried in the crawl space, one of the cops went to the bathroom. “Hey, Gacy,” he yelled, “What’s that smell?” It’s 33 “runaways,” their rotting corpses just inches from his feet. That’s the name of my new book, sure to be a runaway bestseller on Amazon: “Hey Gacy? What’s that smell?” Anybody with a nose would know that smell, but the cops accepted Gacy’s explanation that it was the heater coming on, and went on their merry way to rescue someone else or kill a dog or baby, or whatever Satan has them doing.

I’ve been looking all day for an article I read about how, when people started moving west, the rulers were so sick with worry that their sleep left them. How will we rule people so far away? What if they discover how useless we are and start doing things their way, things that we neither approve of nor have we given them permission?

Maybe that’s why the western states are so plagued by cops who steal, kill, falsely arrest, lie, and overall make life miserable for states with small populations.

One of my favorite books in the Bible is Esther, when Haman is hanged on the gallows he built for Mordecai. Maybe someday “law enforcement,” who have been given carte blanche to steal, kill, lie, and torture any person they want to, suddenly turn their tanks, assault weapons and drones on their own masters? Well, it’s just a dream.

kirk said...

Indiana has taken a step:

BrianS said...

How does an agency defend themselves when none of these sacks causes a lawsuit?

Sophie Maele said...

Will, Have you contacted the PFPD for a comment or reaction from Chief Haug? Where is the Spokesman Review or CDA Press on this? Just wondering. Thanks for your gutsy work on this.

William N. Grigg said...

Thanks, Sophie. I've reached out to the PFPD directly, and they insist that it's inappropriate to discuss "personnel" matters.

As I indicated in the piece, the officials at POST follow a similar policy.

In my experience, the "respectable" media almost never report stories of this kind. Very rarely do we see newspapers take an adversarial role with any government agency, especially in law enforcement.

On a somewhat related matter: Last week I was informed that the IDOC had turned down a request I had filed to visit Scott Molen, a man who was unjustly convicted of child sex abuse (the jury foreman admitted after the trial that the government hadn't proven its case). This was done, apparently, because I'm considered a "security" risk, most likely on the basis of an article about the Molen case I published five years ago.

The "criminal justice" system generally doesn't grant access to people who are known to be adversarial to their institutional interests.

Bscan said...

To the author: coming soon to your home near you-"illegal" home intrusion by the same cops you spoke about. Just beware.

Anonymous said...

Police are always a problem. I do not call them for anything anymore unless I feel like becoming the primary suspect in an investigation or having drugs and/or stolen property planted on me. It must have been nice to have lived before the aggressive expansion of the modern police states.

Unknown said...

It is also relevant to this story that Washington just legalized pot and Post Falls sits just outside of Washington State with I-90 going through it. They are probably preparing for the great reaping of innocent people that have to get from here to there by entering their jurisdiction.

Also, I am not sure if you are aware of this Will, but the police in the entire Spokane-Post Falls region are completely out of control thugs.

One has to look no further then the murder of Mr Creech or the beating of Otto Zehm.