As of Tuesday, August 7, 2018
KOOSKIA The City of Kooskia now has a police department. And now it doesn’t. The actions were almost that quick, and the result is the city is now facing termination of its law enforcement contract with the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office (ICSO) by Aug. 31 unless it addresses the confusion of the issue with the agency.
“There’s no change. We’ll still be answering calls,” said ICSO Sheriff Doug Giddings, regarding the one-year $25,000 contract that, in part, ICSO agrees to maintain two deputies residing in or around city limits and provide law enforcement and patrols. “But come the end of the month,” he continued, “we’ll see.”
Giddings has been invited to tonight’s Wednesday, Aug. 8, Kooskia City Council meeting to discuss the matter. The meeting starts at 6 p.m.
From documents provided by Idaho County, the city police department issue resulted due to a rumor heard by Kooskia public works superintendent Carlos Martinez that ICSO was not going to renew its contract with the city for another year. This was according to county prosecutor – and also Kooskia city attorney — Kirk MacGregor, who discussed the matter at the July 31 Idaho County Commission meeting.
“So, according to him [Martinez, a former ICSO deputy], he felt like the city should have him and Tim Sokolowski [a public works employee and former ICSO deputy] retain their POST (Police Officer Standards and Training) certification,” MacGregor said. “The only way they could do that was work under a law enforcement agency. When they contacted POST, POST said they could recertify them, but they’ve got to work for a law enforcement agency. So then, without me knowing this, the mayor [Charlotte Schilling] wrote a [July 10] letter to POST and said, ‘We now have our own law enforcement agency, City of Kooskia police.’”
In MacGregor contacting Martinez, he said Martinez explained more steps would have to be completed to be recognized by POST, which haven’t been done, so the department would not be formalized. According to the conversation, Martinez said if this were to cause a problem in the county not renewing the contract, the city would withdraw that status designation for POST, and he would ask the mayor and city enter into a law enforcement agreement for another year.
“I don’t believe the mayor or council ever intended that the city would have an actual law enforcement agency,” said MacGregor. “It was just in name only so Carlos and Tim could keep their POST certification status.”
According to documents, the city sent a July 31 letter to the Idaho POST Council noting its decision to dissolve its city police department and remove it from its list of Idaho law enforcement agencies.
The Free Press contacted the City of Kooskia last week for comment and was referred to Martinez, who had since left on vacation, to respond for comment. No contact was made by Martinez to comment for this story by press time.
“We didn’t know any of this. They didn’t talk to me,” Giddings said about the city’s move to form a police department, and were informed by the Idaho POST Council. “If they have a police department, we don’t contract with police departments,” so the next step was to not renew the contract.
From his information, Giddings’s belief was the city was needing code enforcement officers. In the May 9 Kooskia City Council minutes, a new business item noted council designated Martinez and Sokolowski – both as previous law enforcement officials — as code/law enforcement officials for the city.
“They just wanted them to do code enforcement,” Giddings said. He sees the city’s July 10 letter establishing a police department as based on incorrect information in order for Martinez and Sokolowski to maintain their POST certifications.
The rumor that ICSO was not going to renew its contract with the city was false, according to Giddings, and he is open to continuing the agreement with the city.