Missoula Police Department: June 2009 Archives
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.