Results tagged “Missoula Police Department” from Six Hours A Week: Adventures in American Exile
It's always scary when people in positions of authority give different explanations for their procedures based on what is most convenient at the moment, all while trying to blame you for their choices.
I'm not sure what all occurred in the conversation that just took place between Chief Muir and my mom. She's summarizing it, and she asked him to put his strange contentions in written form so that there would be a record of them. Though he refused to take an official statement from my mother when she offered, he is going to take one from Alain Goodman. Yay for impartial police work.
In response to my inquiry about the report that she filed about Alain Goodman accosting her, Muir told me in writing that he could not comment because it was reported by her. Fine.
Today, he told her that he never responded to her because he was waiting for "corroborating evidence as to how [her] complaint fits into [my] overall conspiracy theory." (Though I specifically said we were waiting for action on her complaint and wanted to know the process of obtaining a restraining order...) He didn't want to stir up the neighborhood with "unsubstantiated claims." He also said to her that he had requested more information about the incident from me but I had refused to supply it.
So... when I am interested in knowing when the police are going to follow up with my mother about an assault, responding would violate her privacy. Yet, they can't follow up with her because they're waiting for something from me?
And -- her complaint just ended up on Muir's desk without any official record of her having filed it. My understanding is that no action can be taken on an issue unless there is a recorded complaint filed. Though she did not file it in relation to the overall harassment situation (indeed, until recently Chief Muir hadn't even agreed that he would examine evidence in that light -- I'm not yet sure he has), he just left it on his desk and awaited more info from me? Rather than following up on an assault? And when I asked him about it he said (on official police stationary) that he couldn't respond?
Clearly, this is some sort of backfill explaining.
Even better: apparently, he has heard from a third party that the incident did not occur out of the blue as my mother was walking down the street with croissants, but the frightening encounter was somehow a response to my mom's taking a picture. That's not the case (mom didn't have a camera with her), but even if it were, since when is someone allowed to assault someone else because he or she is being photographed? And why would a police officer decide to omit any official record of a complaint based on some third party claim? Aren't they still obligated to follow up and get a statement from the complainant about what occurred?
This third party called and complained about Mom's having taken a picture before he received her complaint. But -- I called Sergeant Richardson immediately after it happened. I wrote about it right away. So -- why does that call about photography somehow cancel out my Mom's written complaint about assault? Why does what other people say carry so much more weight than what we say? I have repeatedly asked about any documentation or official complaining about us from the neighbors and have just gotten very vague, non-specific answers.
People have been working overtime to make our taking of photographs of people who exhibit odd behavior in front of our home, or of vehicles who park in the proximity for no apparent reason, as some sort of crime. We do it defensively as stalking victims to document the odd/stalkerish/harassment behavior in the neighborhood. We have explained to our neighbors why we do it and have asked them to contact us with any concerns. If there is some legal issue about taking photographs on the public street, I'm sure that someone in some sort of official capacity can let us know.
Sergeant Richardson indicated to me that it was perfectly legal for Alain Goodman to stand on the sidewalk and photograph our property. I can't imagine that it's illegal for us to stand on our own property and photograph the street. Though these people take pains to get us to interact with them, we never do.
Anyhow -- the double standards and multiple explanations are odd.
It seems as though Chief Muir's next rhetorical tack (since "insincere" didn't quite work out) is the woo-woo, crazy ladies conspiracy angle. Again, conspiracy is when two people get together to plan to do harm/make mischief/deprive people of their rights. The way that Chief Muir contradicts himself, fails to give sufficient legal/procedural explanations for his or his officers decisions, engages in slippery policy, and strives to come up with reasons that our claims are illegitimate, suggests to me that he has spoken with at least one other person about ways to deligitimize our claims or keep them from becoming official police record. Given what he and Sergeant Richardson have written, and how they have responded, this is legitimate interpretation. But I can see why Chief Muir would want to promote an inaccurate interpretation of what conspiracy means rather than one that might apply to him or to officers in his department.
He said he would let my mom know in writing by the middle of next week why he chose not to follow up on her assault or create any official record of it.
And we're supposed to believe that the Department is a neutral party, dispassionately interested in protecting us as much as any other citizens? That Chief Muir is just itching to follow up on our array of Complaints? I have corresponded with Chief Muir about this incident repeatedly. Now we have to ask -- who/what is the Department covering for? It's seemed from Day 1 that Sergeant Richardson and Chief Muir were mostly interested in preventing us from supplying documentation and evidence. Then when one of us makes a report, it disappears. And the problem is supposedly my/our "insincerity" about wanting to make official reports? This is ridiculous.
Now I'll be interested to see how many of my 911 stalking/harassment calls have been "lost."
It's not at all an exaggeration to say that we're venturing into official cover-up territory here. It's going to be more and more difficult to make this about us instead of the people and practices Chief Muir seems to be protecting.
Yet, the new tactic is to make it look like I'm simply not supplying evidence and only like to argue. When I've been waiting for procedural preferences as well as assurance that someone other than Chief Muir will bear responsibility for reviewing the information I submit. This man's first substantive communication with me involved warnings to keep quiet about my claims that the department was mishandling our situation. Since that first interaction, he hasn't given me much of a reason to trust him.
For example, I stated these concerns about Chief Muir's defending the legitimacy of Sergeant Richardson's actions in his last letter.
You claim that a general prohibition on contacting the neighbors in any way is not "bizarre." What legal or department procedural policy allows a police officer to instruct a citizen not to communicate in any way with her neighbors -- without indicating which neighbors or citing specific complaints from any of them? I provided ample documentation of harassment from neighbors to Sergeant Richardson -- has he instructed them not to contact us? Have they provided any evidence or documentation of our supposed harassment of them? My understanding is that I need to file a restraining order against anyone whom I don't wish to contact me, and that I need to have documentation to do so. It seems discriminatory to take their concerns seriously, but not ours -- especially when we are the ones who initiated contact with your department. Please clarify.His response?
I will reply to your third point upon receipt and review of your evidence, as I am unable to knowledgeably respond without that evidence.What? He is unable to make a statement about legality and department policy? He can't answer these specific questions? He can't provide clarification on the restraining order issue? He doesn't have access to the information supplied to Sergeant Richardson?
Is putting off responding to these very answerable questions (albeit uncomfortable, because they reveal some pretty fuzzy/shoddy procedure), because he believes that I for some reason will not be in a position to supply all of the documentation and evidence? I'll be too distracted, perhaps?
You've gotta love the way he ends his letter:
I do not understand why you have not already brought me the evidence which you so repeatedly have insisted we accept from you. If for some reason you have been insincere as to your intent to share your evidence with me, please feel free to cease communication and seek the assistance of state or federal authorities...Is there anything about my communication that seems insincere? Seriously? As though I wouldn't sincerely want to help law enforcement to punish the people who have relentlessly harassed and intimidated us? I'm sorry, but that seems like a very insincere tack.
My major concern has been wanting a procedure in place that makes sense. My entire life has been derailed by this harassment campaign, and documenting it all takes time and energy. A proper process is important, as it sets the framework for how these matters are handled. I guess it will be necessary to file individual reports for every single incident and send copies to his attention. I think that the department's obligations are more extensive if an actual report is filed, so it seems necessary to do so. Of course, It's going to take a lot of time to file all of these individual reports. To me it makes complete sense why a person in my position wouldn't just hand over all of her documentation and information to someone who has revealed himself to be less than objective or trustworthy and isn't accountable to anyone else in the department.
So, here we have local law enforcement playing into the goals of the overall campaign: creating such overwhelming and pervasive harassment as to halt someone's life to a standstill. Right now we are in a position of having to provide documentation to the health department, lawyers, insurance agents, the doctor's office that I have to follow up with constantly to ensure that they don't send paid accounts to collections, the police department, and others. By not answering questions, not volunteering appropriate information, and taking an overall defensive posture, I have to work overtime to figure out my rights and how our evidence will avoid slipping through the cracks. I am the victim of stalking and harassment and attempted entrapment, and have been preemptively treated as the perpetrator. I wonder if they treat all stalking victims this way or if we're special.
So, when there are all of those people out there waiting for information who have an investment in making it seems as though it doesn't exist or that we're making it up, I always pause when a key person like the police chief portrays my lack of immediate reaction as "insincere." (Especially when -- again -- I've repeatedly emphasized an overall desire for a process that ensures accountability and efficiency.) I've learned that such a rhetorical turn usually indicates a narrative is forming: in this case it seems to be the "insincerity" narrative. Something like, "Those ladies, they like to make claims, but they never follow up." But we have been put in a position where we need to document nearly every business and consumer interaction in order to protect ourselves. For heaven's sake, we just found out last week that we avoided an incompetency hearing for my mother! (This letter was written before that matter had been decided -- maybe he thought we'd still be overwhelmed by that.) That's the a central goal of a harassment campaign like the one we've endured: complete and utter disruption of a person's life in such a way that is difficult to document and makes him or her seem to be the party at fault. So the Department preemptively does not want to see it as though we're dealing with constant criminal assaults, but are simply insincere and withholding. Wow.
I can see why he admonishes, "Please don't continue to haggle or dispute this department's handling of your complaints, it is just taking time away from determining the validity of those issues you feel we aren't addressing." His emphasis takes legitimacy away from the importance of the process. If I'm just haggling, then apparently I'm not expressing legitimate concerns about Chief Muir's neutrality and the objective handling of my case. Then I'm a haggler, not someone who wants to be assured that if she takes the time to amass piles of narrative and documentation that it's not going to end up in the back of the Police Chief's filing cabinet. Also, since the situation has obviously been completely mishandled, I can see why he would discourage me from continuing to point out inconsistent or discriminatory procedure.
Interestingly, I copied Chief Muir on a letter to our neighbor's landlords dated June 4, but he seems to have never seen it. It was the basis of Sergeant Richardson's contacting me. Strange that even now he has not forwarded Chief Muir a copy of the letter.
I'm also concerned about Chief Muir's ability to accurately interpret clear written communication. In response to my concerns about David Merrill making extortion-like threats, he says that "Threats of legal action or law enforcement investigation is not a threat upon which any criminal charge may be undertaken." But I said clearly:
if my mother did not pay him a certain amount, he indicated that he would circumvent legal channels and sic the police department on us.
Does Chief Muir not understand the meaning of "circumventing legal channels"? The point about Mr. Merrill was that he did not threaten legal action, as would have been appropriate. He should have gone through appropriate legal channels. Instead he said that if he was not paid a certain amount of money, he would call the police, in addition to other threats. He knew that we were fearful of law enforcement's involvement with our harassment at that time -- the threat seemed designed to scare us. As you can see below, I indicate clearly that the problem was that he was not using appropriate legal remedy but threatening to use the police as enforcers for his demand for money.
Then, there are little niggling annoying things. I asked for follow-up on Mom's report filed re: the neighbor's assault. He can't follow up with me because it would violate her privacy. Great -- completely valid. But, why not follow up with her directly? His department's mishandling of the situation contributed to incident's even taking place. One would think that the department could follow up with her within a month's time. And, my asking about it would at least alert them to the fact that our household is interested in the outcome... And might prompt a follow-up. But we haven't heard anything. (Waiting for her to be declared incompetent, perhaps?)
Another thing: he says not to submit evidence that's over a year old. But if it's part of ongoing criminal conspiracy, isn't it still valid/valuable? Or would the state attorney need to handle that? This is where I find the handling problematic. It seems that it's being viewed/handled in the narrowest possible terms, with the least amount of helpful information provided. Of course, it would be lovely to have a civil rights attorney that wasn't for sale. We don't have that luxury yet. But we will. And when that day comes it seems like the Department will want to have lent the appearance legitimacy.
You may ask: why do you take the time to write these posts? Well, if I didn't, I believe the next door neighbors would have remained in full on campaign mode and that Chief Muir wouldn't even be giving me lip service.
Am I handling this badly? Wrong? I guess there's no Emily Post Guide to convincing law enforcement and county prosecutors to care about crimes against you. I would feel worse about my handling of it if someone had taken the time to explain to me exactly how to best submit evidence of multiple, interwoven crimes and I was ignoring them.
All along it has seemed as though everyone was holding his or her breath, waiting for one of us to die, for one of the entrapment schemes to work, or for us to be labeled crazy for saying out loud that all of this was happening. As long as any of that was in store, none of the specific crimes would matter because we would be discredited and not in a position to pursue them.
We'll see how long that trend continues. Can they really get away with ignoring claims like those below? They're only a teeny tiny piece of the tip of the ice burg.
from Kyeann Sayer
date Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 7:12 AM
subject Specific Examples of Criminal Activity
Let me provide some examples in the hope that it will clarify my dilemma of how best to provide evidence.
In an email exchange, a Missoula resident named David Merrill threatened what amounts to extortion -- if my mother did not pay him a certain amount, he indicated that he would circumvent legal channels and sic the police department on us. This is a violation of many laws (including those governing email communications locally). We believe that he was threatening the extortion as part of a larger scheme to foreclose on my mother's property. I could simply submit a police report with evidence of his threat and so it would be treated as a single issue. It seems, however, as though it would make looking into all of this simpler if someone had a file labeled something like "Conspiracy to Damage/Foreclose on Property X" and Mr. Merrill's individual extortion attempt could go there. From an investigative perspective, it seems like it makes sense to have the overall context along with the report of the individual attempt.
Also, the day before an important court appearance, my mom suffered carbon monoxide poisoning because her car had been tampered with. Not only was the exhaust system somehow blocked, but a part was pulled out of the engine so that it was burning and smoking. When she took it to the mechanic, he said that it could have exploded if we drove much further. We have pictures of it, the receipt from the mechanic, and an idea of who could have done it. It seems that all of this information would be very helpful to investigators.
A gentleman named Ty Cranmore threatened to use a Sheriff's Department employee as a hired goon when we wouldn't return a piece of property that my mother had purchased from his employer and that he had damaged. We believe he intentionally damaged property, and think his threats bordered on extortion. He used hate speech in our home, apparently to contribute to the overall atmosphere of intimidation. We would like to know why Mr. Cranmore was so confident in his feeling of entitlement to damage our property and then receive local government back-up.
We have dealt with an overall stalking and harassment situation. We have dozens of incidents to report, and many associated suspicious license plates. Investigators who are truly interested in the why and how have a lot to go on. Again, we could report these all as individual instances or provide them succinctly to a genuinely curious party who would like to follow up thoroughly. The latter seems more efficient.
I have a hard time believing that the city and county of Missoula would not want to follow up on issues like these. I hope you will start treating us like citizens to help and protect.
from Kyeann Sayer
date Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 6:50 AM
subject Re: Request for Liaison
Mr. Van Valkenburg,
Are you not interested in pursuing criminal activity in the county? I have evidence of harm to persons and property including fraud and criminal conspiracy -- as well as attempts to do physical harm to my mother and me. Many of these crimes appear to have been hate-based. It seems odd that you would make a predetermination that you are not interested in pursuing such serious matters.
We have such extensive documentation and material evidence that I would like a consistent and clear means of providing it to your office and the police department so that we are all spared a great deal of energy and effort. I would like to help your office operate efficiently, so that tax payer dollars are not wasted unnecessarily through sloppy communication and duplication of efforts.
Since you will not identify a liaison, please let me know how you would like to learn about the criminal activity we have endured in Missoula County.
I am sure you don't want to send the message that you are not interested in receiving information about and pursuing criminal activity by preemptively ensuring that your office is not aware of it. So far, that is what your communication suggests. Many of the people involved in doing us harm are prominent community members and it seems as though they have felt protected by individuals in the police and sheriff's department (I have evidence of this); I'm sure you don't want to lend the appearance of obstructing our efforts in order to protect them.
I look forward to working with your office to ensure that justice is served in Missoula County. Again, please let me know how best to so.
On Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 12:00 PM, Fred VanValkenburg <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>>> Kyeann Sayer <email@example.com> 7/8/2009 04:07 AM >>>
Since Mr. Van Valkenberg sent me the pasted text of an email he claims to have sent on June 29 (I never received it), I have not heard from him. I am eager to have a liaison in the county attorney's office in order to streamline communication.
from Kyeann Sayer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
to Fred VanValkenburg <email@example.com>
date Sun, Jul 5, 2009 at 9:15 PM
subject Re: Threatening Behavior from Alain Goodman This Morning
Mr Van Valkenburg,
I never received a June 29 email and don't see it below.
My mother and I have endured much criminal activity in Missoula County and believe that your office should seriously consider our claims. Please let me know with whom I should confer about this. I will be forwarding information to the police department, but also think it's important to have a liaison in your office.
I'll be interested to learn what departments are legally required to act on. For instance, if I don't file official reports, is there a lower standard of accountability? It seems like all possible has been done to point me in other directions than filing actual reports, so it seems that I should definitely file them.
Since we reported our neighbor Alain assaulting my mom things have settled down remarkably. That momentary loss of control on his part ended up sort of being a blessing to us.
So: here we go!
from Kyeann Sayer
date Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 5:09 AM
subject Addressing MPD Issues/Criminal Claims
Dear Chief Muir,
This is in response to your June 29 letter (I typed in the text below). I will also send you a hard copy since you don't respond to email communications from me.
I'm glad that you have shifted from advising me that you will not tolerate my opinions about my treatment by the department to expressing an interest in receiving my claims. Since June 26 the change in the neighborhood has been remarkable -- someone seems to be sending a new message about what sort of behavior is acceptable. It seems that the overall tone of accountability has shifted and individuals no longer feel that they can harass and intimidate us with impunity, which of course is a welcome change.
My concern is not only that my desire to relay information about criminal activity and provide evidence was ignored, but also that a concerted effort seems to have been made to delegitimize my concerns and prevent me from submitting evidence of them to your department.
Sergeant Richardson seemed to have had the singular goal of heading me off before I could provide documentation of criminal activity. He sought to frame my issue as isolated to my unfounded concerns about harassment from my neighbors, while I repeatedly emphasized that I needed the department to send a clear message in the community in general that hate and organized crime directed at my mother and me was unacceptable. He continually instructed me to just relax and enjoy my neighborhood as I implored him to look at the overall law enforcement atmosphere that seemed to condone harassment of us. Ironically, my mother was then assaulted by the neighbor that I initially complained to you about, illustrating that Sergeant Richardson's intervention/conversations with his household did nothing to diminish their impression that it was acceptable to harass us. If he had intervened appropriately to begin with, it is doubtful that my mother would have been assaulted.
Additionally, I find it alarming that your initial response to my understandable concerns about the Department's handling of this issue was to threaten that you would not tolerate my exercise of free speech.
I have some points of clarification. Please explain:
- Why neither you nor Sergeant Richardson never explained the procedures for filing police or hate crimes despite my repeated requests for guidance.
- Why you did not explain the procedure for filing an Employee Complaint Form. I clearly believed I was receiving one-sided treatment from Sergeant Richardson, and his mishandling and adamant refusal to take my claims seriously allowed for a continuation of the atmosphere of permissiveness that enabled mother's assault by Alain Goodman.
- You claim that a general prohibition on contacting the neighbors in
any way is not "bizarre." What legal or department procedural policy
allows a police officer to instruct a citizen not to communicate in any
way with her neighbors -- without indicating which neighbors or citing
specific complaints from any of them? I provided ample documentation
of harassment from neighbors to Sergeant Richardson -- has he instructed
them not to contact us? Have they provided any evidence or
documentation of our supposed harassment of them? My understanding is
that I need to file a restraining order against anyone whom I don't
wish to contact me, and that I need to have documentation to do so. It
seems discriminatory to take their concerns seriously, but not ours --
especially when we are the ones who initiated contact with your
department. Please clarify.
- What was the outcome of *****'s June 26 report of Alain
Goodman's assault? Is he prohibited from approaching her? Does she need
to apply for a restraining order?
It is important to me that you designate another person in the department who will be responsible for reviewing the information in addition to yourself. Again, your initial response and lack of basic instructions about procedures for citizens to file reports indicates to me that it is necessary to widen the net of responsibility for reviewing and acting upon my claims.
I will send you copies of the sixhoursaweek.com blog posts related to the Missoula PD to ensure that the department has a record of them (of course I keep copies of them in case the blog is for some reason hacked into). However, my blog was not created for the purpose of communicating with you or your department. It is in many cases very general and only very partially conveys the criminal activity we have endured in Missoula County. Reading my blog should not serve as a substitute for direct communication with me regarding these matters, and should in no way serve to constitute your full understanding of what we have endured. I will continue to chronicle my relations with the department over these issues, however.
Again, to clarify, I contacted you in a letter about harassment from the Goodmans. Sergeant Richardson responded and I provided documentation of my responses to verbal assaults, harassment and entrapment attempts in the neighborhood. Sergeant Richardon's provided a "blame the victim" response, stigmatizing my efforts to document the neighborhood harassment. That led to these blog posts below.
I look forward to receiving your responses and moving forward together to combat corruption and hate crime in Missoula.
June 29, 2009
Dear Ms. Sayer,
I received your e-mail in response to my concerns about your allegations of misconduct by members of this department. I understand your concern that we don't appreciate what the real problem is and that you are simply looking to know who you can give your extensive evidence to.
Please feel free to provide me with copies of any written statements and documented evidence of criminal activity which you have in your possession. Another investigator or I will review all that information and provide you with notice of our findings and recommendations, if any. I might add that I took the time to review the archives of your blog to familiarize myself better with the situation you believe you find yourself in, so you do not need to provide me with copies of those posts unless you are planning to take down your blog site.
For your information, there is nothing "bizarre" about a police officer giving notice to cease contacts with neigbors and is in fact quite common. The notice is based on a request by any party who feels they are being harassed by another.
At your convenience, you may deliver copies of the above documentation/evidence to me or phone me with a time to have someone from the MPD pick it up. Again my office is open to you at any time with reasonable notice for discussion of your concerns.
Bright side: all of this has been an incredible learning experience and promises to reveal so much about the workings of local and state government. I know how dorky that sounds, but we've been living in this state of helplessness with the never ending COINTELPRO-like life disruption. It not only felt impossible to make any headway with local officials because of the general mistrust engendered by the sheer volume of people who were convinced to make life difficult for us. But also, when dealing constantly in fight or flight mode, it was difficult to get a handle on how to advocate for ourselves in spite of the overall terror/harassment. Until last week, I had no idea how to file a police report or make a report to the health department. Today I do.
Now just being aware of some of the local laws that individuals have broken, and the steps to take to remedy them, is empowering. There were probably many things that we could have done to make the harassment more difficult, and to create accountability, but we didn't know them. If we didn't, then I don't think many people do have much of a handle on how to advocate for themselves.
If I hadn't been creating some form of public accountability through my blog, I might not be in the position to get at least lip service to a genuine look at what we've been through in this jurisdiction. We know what a sorry state the world would be in if only windbags with blogs got a hint of justice. (Why reporters haven't long ago exposed a fraction of the people who have attempted to mess with us is a question deserving serious consideration.)
There's a ton of work to be done! We have these rights because we are American and if we don't know how to claim them we are just screwed by the greedy and brutish. This Independence Day I am grateful to be in this beautifully imagined but imperfect country, getting up everyday and giving substance to the notion of inalienable rights. For the foreseeable future that will mean trudging through slow, long legal and law enforcement processes.
Again, I hate to be cheesy, but there is something really beautiful about the idea that all of our sufferings and efforts might make things easier for another Montanan or other American. I am typing now because others have fought and died and suffered much more terribly than I ever have -- on the battlefield and in the struggles for free speech and civil liberties/rights. It's humbling to think that maybe a small bit of our efforts will enable some woman or man to suffer in front of the future's version of a keyboard generations from now. Or help those who don't know that luxury.
I recognize that there are many officers doing excellent work keeping the city safe. We hope that the resistance to receiving our evidence and addressing our concerns will turn out to have been isolated and short-lived.
date Mon, Nov 5, 2007 at 12:29 AM
subject Good Work, MPD
We recently called 911 while witnessing a break-in across the alley from our house. Missoula Police Department officers arrived within minutes and soon made an arrest. While on the scene they exhibited skill, courtesy and professionalism. We thank these men and women, and their capable canine, for a successful, well-executed effort.
Sorry to be repetitive in this post. When obvious facts/concerns are being completely ignored, it's hard to know what to do other than find a variety of ways to state them.
This is such a surreal Catch 22. The message we're getting is: "We have found no evidence of wrongdoing against you. At the same time, we have ignored your multiple requests to provide the appropriate information, so we don't have any evidence. Therefore, we conclude that no wrongdoing has occurred."
Seriously? I made clear all along with Sergeant Richardson that contacting the Department was a first step, and that I wanted to work with them in an ongoing way and provide information. I requested repeatedly how to do that. Hello? No one there even knows exactly what we believe should be investigated. How can they make conclusions that nothing illegal has occurred when they haven't heard from us exactly what has occurred?
Mom was harassed again this morning due to the Department's failure to properly address one aspect of our situation... And I get accusations about treading on libel and making false accusations. Free speech exists so that citizens like me can speak out about ridiculous situations like this. I am dumbfounded by the "libel" approach.
I'm sorry -- I can't get over the continued lack of acknowledgment that we have begged to find out how to provide them with the evidence they need to properly investigate. Or any expression of desire to receive relevant information from us. Wow.
Was I not clear in message after message that the PD has only a tiny fraction of the relevant information and we just want to know how to provide it to someone who is not intent on blaming us? I don't know how many more ways to say it. Why does the department need to frame it in terms of deciding whether or not there is criminal activity at the outset, rather than making an informed determination based on the evidence we provide?
Doesn't anyone at the City realize how weird it looks that they so don't want any information?
I guess we just provide all of the evidence and documentation without guidance on how they would like to receive it? We wanted to make their jobs easier. Ignoring non-evidence is apparently very easy -- ignoring actual evidence will be more difficult, I think.
(Also -- interesting that Chief Muir gave his "professional opinion" about libel and not one of the City Attorneys copied on the message... I guess I was meant to be scared into quieting down by someone who is not professionally obligated to provide legitimate "professional opinion" on legal matters?)
Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 4:57 PM
Re: Threatening Behavior from Alain Goodman This Morning
The issue is not that I have provided the evidence and no credible public employee has "found" anything within it -- the issue is that no one seems to want to receive evidence and documentation from us. Are you not understanding that I have extensive evidence of criminal activity that I would like to provide? I have asked perhaps six times now how I may succinctly and helpfully provide information so that proper investigations may take place. I have to wonder why the department does not what the information. Can you please clarify that issue?
The claim about libel is frankly absurd. The email exchange with Sergeant Richardson quite adequately backs up my interpretation of his response -- I am absolutely allowed to express my opinion about his completely one-sided response to our concerns. We are protecting ourselves through blogging because we have not received protection from your department. Threats about libel will not prevent me from continuing to pursue my rights -- including my right to free speech.
I have made multiple 911 calls about stalking and harassing behavior since September and told at least four officers on the scene that we have been dealing with stalking and harassment. No follow up was made. On February 5, Officer Chris Kanaff was very responsive and helpful in heading off suspicious characters who were parked in front of our home in the middle of the night. I told him that it was a chronic problem. There has been an endless stream of suspicious characters since then. If I call 911 every time it happens, I lose all credibility. We do have extensive documentation of the license plates of those who have exhibited suspicious behavior. We would love to provide it.
If Sergeant Richardson had responded appropriately about the concerns about the Goodmans outlined in the June 4 letter that you were copied on, and not attempted to blame us, perhaps Mr. Goodman would not have frightened my mother this morning. Clearly Sergeant Richardson sent a message to the Goodman household that we are in the wrong, and Mr. Goodman felt complete license to scream at her. Is this how you protect concerned citizens in your city? The problem isn't my exposing how your department is handling these issues. The problem is how they are being handled.
I still would like to know exactly how the Department is going to address the issues of organized crime, hate crime and harassment that we have endured in the city, and now this new threatening behavior from the neighbors. If you are not going to inform us by email, please send me a letter. Also, again, we have extensive documentation of organized crime, hate crime, and harassment, and deserve contacts at the city and county who are willing and able to genuinely investigate. As you continue to ignore it, we will have no choice but to pursue our safety and rights with state and federal agencies that are willing to take a genuine interest.
Also -- is Sergeant Richardson's bizarre instruction not to contact our neighbors (we still don't know which) still in effect even though it's clear that the problem is that individuals like Alain are harassing us? Do you want us to tie up the emergency line every time something like that happens? Would it not be appropriate to take a more proactive approach that prevents the situation from escalating to a hostile or emergency situation? Is the city not liable for not taking appropriate action?
We deserve protection from your department as much as any other resident. Please let us know how you are going to provide it.
Additionally, to clarify, Sergeant Richardson responded to the June 4 letter and that is why I did not return your return of my June 8 phone call. Though I called his direct line rather than 911 this morning when the incident with Alain occurred, we have made it clear that we have no desire to work with Sergeant Richardson -- if he had not been so one-sided in his handling of this my mother would have had a much less frightening morning. As indicated in an email from earlier today, she would like to file the appropriate report about Mr. Goodman's morning tirade. Please provide a contact other than Sergeant Richardson so that she may do so. Someone other than Sergeant Richardson may phone her at ***-****.
On Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 1:24 PM, Mark Muir <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Dear Ms. Sayer,
This email will be the last electronic communication you will receive from the Missoula Police Department. Upon my order any police employee who is requested to communicate directly with you by email will be advised to contact me. I will telephone you (as I have tried numerous times with no call backs) whenever you may need assistance outside the scope of the current matters. Any emergency matter requiring assistance from police can be communicated through 9-1-1.
You are not under any form of investigation by the Missoula Police Department and Sgt. Richardson has been ordered to cease any further activity with regards to your assertions that I find on your blog. I have reviewed that information and spoken with my highly credible staff to determine that they have done everything they can possibly do to convince you that no criminal activity is afoot and that you have not provided any credible evidence of hate crimes being committed against members of your household. Feel free to continue those assertions to federal authorities if you object to my finding.
Furthermore, it is my professional opinion that you are potentially treading on libelous accusations about members of the Missoula Police Department and I encourage you to address any further opinions about police services to me. I will not tolerate you making patently false accusations in a public forum about the character and actions of officers within this department. My office is available to you upon reasonable request to personally discuss your feelings about the departments failure to understand your concerns.
Chief Mark Muir
Missoula Police Department
435 Ryman Street
Missoula, MT 59802
My mother just walked in the door looking terrified. I asked her what happened.
She was returning from getting morning pastry on foot. As she crossed the alley, she noticed that a vehicle was pulling out from in front of the Goodmans and looked intently at the license plate to see if it was local. She kept walking toward our gate and looked at the teal green truck as it drove by. She noticed that the sign on the side read "Loken Builders." Before she could even register that a Loken Builders truck had once again been parked at the neighbors', as she did a double take, the driver slammed on the breaks and backed the truck up about 20 feet so that it was beside her. She then saw that he was our neighbor, Alain Goodman.
He yelled a series of things, but all that she could make out among them was "You got a problem with me?"
She didn't. She was minding her own business, carrying croissants. She said nothing.
His demeanor and expression were quite menacing and it seemed as though he was going to jump out after her and so she hurried inside the gate. He sped off. She walked inside, looking terrified.
We left a message for Sergeant Richardson. It will be interesting to see if/how he tries to make this Mom's fault somehow. I also sent an email to Department and County employees, asking how we officially report these incidents, and emphasizing how important it is for them to send a message that it is unacceptable to engage in harassment or intimidation.
So, does Mr. Goodman work for Loken -- the man who bilked materials, committed what most would interpret as fraud, and seemingly engaged in a variety of strategies to devalue or foreclose on my mother's home? That would explain a lot. Including the drug entrapment attempts that the Goodmans seemed so intimately involved in.
Ironically, if he hadn't flown into a rage and backed up, Mom would not have known he was driving the company truck.
When you are being systematically harassed, documentation becomes important. It's the culmination of incidences that create the overall picture. Not only is he not interested in receiving documentation or evidence so that he understands the overall situation. He is also intent on stigmatizing the peaceful, nonviolent response we have adopted to protect ourselves.
All of the communications with our neighbors have been very rational and measured attempts to deal with only a tiny fraction of the harassment or bizarre behavior we have encountered. Over the last six months, for example:
• When we started using binoculars to identify license plates on the block in January, we wrote to all of the surrounding neighbors to let them know that we were doing so as a means of coping with an organized harassment campaign and had no desire to violate their privacy or make them uncomfortable in the neighborhood.
• When there was flash photography in our back yard on a recent evening, I didn’t storm over and knock on doors. I sent emails requesting no further violations of our privacy.
• When someone on the Ferguson property seemed to be calling my mother a “Motherf*cking p*ssy,” (seemingly John -- if it wasn't directed at her, then someone who did not respond to him and did not make a sound) I wrote requesting that we endure no further verbal assaults in our back yard. I also requested that they please notify us when our driveway was going to be blocked by renovation work at their property.
• When my polite verbal requests to stop making unreasonable noise were ignored by the Goodmans one Sunday evening, I had not choice but to call the police -- they intervened and the loud banging stopped.
• After a neighbor across the alley stared at/studied our property for about five minutes, I wrote an email inquiring about it.
• When a young man on our block illegally parked a bus and commenced a loud and illegal construction/retrofitting project on it, I let him know what laws he was breaking. When he didn’t follow the law, I eventually contacted the police and they intervened. He moved the bus.
• After another series of provocations from the Goodman household, we finally wrote to their landlords, copying them and a variety of government agencies.
In all of these cases, I have responded to illegal or inappropriate activity in a very calm, rational and legal manner. No one is forced to respond to an email or a letter. We write them to protect ourselves or ask about or document odd behavior.
These communications reflect only a teeny tiny fraction of what we've dealt with and don't begin to reflect the overall atmosphere of terror we've endured.
Why is the focus on my communication rather than the harassing behavior? Can a policeman tell a citizen that she is not allowed to send email or letters? Can a policeman dictate that a citizen only communicate through a lawyer? Not everyone can afford one. If individuals don’t wish to receive communication, shouldn’t they provide the contact information for their attorneys?
It seems that Sergeant Richardson is making up his own protocol as he goes along. If we weren't dealing with nighttime photography, rude disregard for our lack of desire to endure Sunday evening construction, or disturbing tirades, we wouldn't have a need to contact our neighbors. We have to wonder why this public employee is so invested in blaming the victim here.
(The picture represents vigilante justice in Montana in the 1870s. It's thought that perhaps the vigilantes were actually committing many of the crimes they were punishing... It has often felt, over the past two years (and especially in the last month), that a very thin veil of civility has prevented us from falling victim to such a fate. The "New West" isn't so new.)
Just after writing the post below I got a new message from Sergeant Richardson. So, here we are in the nitty grtty of fighting to have one's voice heard in a corruption-saturated community. I guess throughout American history people who've had their rights systematically violated have had to tirelessly and relentlessly pursue legal means for circumventing this type of obstruction. The email exchange below is instructive in the technique of deflection. I'm sure we will deal with a lot of this -- it's important not to take it personally and come to terms with the sad truth that in general people will protect their own and their buddies' interests to an absurd degree.
You can see that the overall strategy below is to make me look completely unacceptable and repugnant to our neighbors, and focus on that rather than the city's overall responsibility. Initially, I complained to the department about a neighbor's conduct, and this where it has led us. One of our strengths is that we have documented the neighbors' odd behavior and entrapment attempts in the form of emails and letters to them. I guess they don't want us to be able to do that any more. Also, by making it seem as though the problem is isolated to us harassing our neighbors (right!), attention is deflected away from their behavior and the city's responsibility for all that has occurred -- in and outside our neighborhood.
The way this Sergeant has fought so hard to completely ignore our very legitimate concerns is so telling. You can see in message after message below, how strenuously he avoids our issues. His complete one-sidedness is remarkable. Throughout this ordeal, however, we have been amazed at the way people seem to think they can create truth simply by ignoring what they'd like and stating what they want to be true.
As long as it's about me, and not about the city and its sanctioning of hate crime and harassment, apparently they think they're golden. But how long can such a transparent strategy work? Or is it just to tide them over until they think of further ways to diminish our credibility? How do we go in one email exchange from "go on and enjoy your life with neighbors who have no issue with you" to "don't contact your neighbors" unless it's a strategic/deflective reaction to complaints about his not doing his job? That seemed like a defensive and ill considered move.
None of this changes the fact that we have copious amounts of evidence and information that we are eager to turn over to local law enforcement. When that evidence and documentation are reviewed by individuals who are truly concerned about our welfare, the Missoula Police Department's obstruction will seem even more problematic. Are they somehow banking on the idea that for some reason no one will ever have the opportunity to evaluate it?
For the sake of the people of Missoula and the police department's reputation, we can hope that Sergeant Casey Richardson is just a bad apple. Fun email exchange after the jump.
As of last week the city and county of Missoula have been notified of our enduring two years' worth of organized crime, hate crime, stalking and harassment (domestic terrorism). So, if they refuse to follow up or take our concerns seriously and we continue to endure any of the above, the city and county will bear responsibility. (The Salt Lake City, Helena and Missoula FBI have been notified too but are so far mum.)
The Missoula police department seems to want the least amount of information possible about what has occurred. We've seen this before. Dave Maison, the Farmers insurance adjuster dealing with Abbey Carpets' damage to my mother's home wrote his initial assessment of what had occurred without even talking to my mother or me -- his was completely inaccurate (seemingly to cover up for intentional destruction of property and to make it seem as though water damage had occurred when it hadn't in the ongoing attempt to devalue the property) and we had to threaten going to the state auditor to get him to include the correct information. He initially said "I've heard what you're going to say," and so didn't want us to say it -- at that point we weren't being vocal about the intentional nature of the property destruction, but just had the facts. Dave didn't want to do a standard taped interview. Nothing. I guess if he didn't have it in his records, it didn't happen.
This is very similar to what's going on so far with the Missoula PD.
Oddly, Sergeant Casey Richardson wants to define the issue quite narrowly, as isolated to our "innocent" neighbors. He has willfully ignored information about the escalated harassment following last year's local Republican convention (where there seemed to have been a lot of confabbing and fund raising related to us). This year's occurred recently and we are concerned that it could be much worse this year with the surge in right-wing violence, and have pointed out a few individuals who seemed very troubled by our religious/political outlooks who also sabotaged work at the house or threatened to use employees of the sheriff's department as hired goons.
I have tried to explain to Sergeant Richardson that it is his and the department's job to make clear to local political and religious leaders that their constituencies cannot harm and harass us with impunity. Failing to do so sends the message that it's acceptable to create an overall tone of fear and intimidation within the city and county. Clearly, someone who is going to use a sheriff's department employee as his enforcer believes he has the backing of law enforcement against whatever horrible excuses of humanity we were supposed to be. It's an overall tone of acceptability that local government needs to shift and so far Sergeant Richardson has remained tone deaf on that issue. After his seemingly intentional nonresponsiveness I followed up with Lieutenant Brester, who was silent and who now is out of town.
The problem is that it's likely that false information was given to the city or the county in order to sanction bogus investigation of us (again -- based on all of the entrapment attempts, it seems that the false info was drug-related). Because little of what has happened to us could have happened without locals feeling as though they were legally protected. It seems that agencies that have been "investigating" us are legally required to let us know why. We do have a right to face our accusers, after all.
I have asked County Attorney Fred Valkenberg directly in an email whether we have been under investigation by his office. He hasn't answered. I asked him and the other attorneys in his office how we can best provide them with the information they need to pursue the crimes against our person and property. We have so much information and documentation, we want to provide it in the most succinct possible manner so that we can help them do their jobs effectively. Silence.
We're not going away. We're just not. We're dedicated to the idea that our nation's/state's/city's legal/justice systems should work on behalf of individual citizens and not cronies. We will pursue all possible local, state and federal channels. So now seems like the time for local public servants to decide how they will be known when all of the facts come to light. So far, Sergeant Richardson is the cop who is doing all that he can to avoid receiving any documentation of wrongdoing. Luitenant Brester seems like the cop who is ignoring our communications in the hope that Sargent Richardson will discourage us and we will quiet down. Mr. Van Valkenberg's office seems quite ostrich-like. But ignoring us won't make us go away. Public servants need to do their jobs properly.