Guess what, Idaho? Blackwater wants to train our cops. Yes, that Blackwater. Marc Stewart of the Coeur d'Alene Press wrote this week:
The North Carolina-based company is negotiating a contract with the Idaho Peace Officer Standards & Training Academy to provide space and instruction to law enforcement personnel. ... Sheriff Rocky Watson expressed concern that Blackwater, which has big military contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense, partnering with Idaho POST will create the wrong impression with the public.
"The perception that our law enforcement officers will be trained by mercenaries is a problem," Watson said. "Our jobs are totally different. We're not paramilitary. The perception is important to our customers."
Blackwater officials strongly maintain that no military training will take place at the facility here. ... The company has faced media scrutiny about its role in Iraq. Blackwater is one of three big contractors providing security services to key U.S. personnel. DynCorp., and Triple Canopy also have employees deployed there.
Blackwater personnel are accused of gunning down 17 people, including women and children last September in Iraq. The FBI is investigating claims made by witnesses that Blackwater guards shot and killed without provocation.
Blackwater isn't winning any popularity contests in other locations where it has sought to open up shop. Calitics, a California blog, is packed with posts on how a Blackwater plan to do terrorism response training for the U.S. Navy just three blocks from the U.S.-Mexico border is meeting with strong resistance from local residents ... this just months after voters in nearby Potrero, CA, recalled all the pro-Blackwater planning board members in their small town when the contractor tried to establish a base there.
From the news account above, it appears that Kootenai County Sheriff Rocky Watson is appropriately concerned about Blackwater's image and the damage its presence could do to Idaho's reputation and that of our law enforcement officers. Don't back down, Sheriff Watson. The more people know about Blackwater, the blood on its hands, its ties to religious zealots, and its shaky finances, the more they will come to see that it has no business meddling in government affairs - on any level. Contact POST executive director Jeff Black and Gary Tolleson of Idaho POST's North Idaho office and tell them that you think outsourcing Idaho's police training to Blackwater is a bad idea.