Blackwater gets cold shoulder in Idaho
Associated Press (2008-06-15)
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COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho— The Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training Council has voted to table a plan by North Carolina-based Blackwater Worldwide to provide space and instruction to police, sheriff’s deputies and other law enforcement personnel.
The private military contractor in Moyock, N.C., is negotiating for construction of a regional law enforcement training center in northern Idaho.
But the council said at its meeting Thursday it needed more information before going ahead.
Blackwater representatives at the meeting didn’t speak. Protesters outside the hotel where the meeting was held displayed signs as regional law enforcement officials arrived.
“They have callous disregard for human life,” Bonnie Douglas told the Coeur d’Alene Press. “This contract is not good for north Idaho.”
Blackwater has come under scrutiny for its security contracting work in Iraq.
Iraqis were outraged over a shooting Sept. 16, when 17 civilians were killed in a Baghdad square. Blackwater said its guards were protecting diplomats under attack before they opened fire, but Iraqi investigators concluded the shooting was unprovoked.
The complex in northern Idaho would include an emergency vehicle operation course, shooting ranges, classrooms, dormitories for at least 80 people, a cafeteria and administration buildings, Blackwater officials have said.
Law enforcement officials attending the meeting, meanwhile, asked the council for permission to create a temporary police academy so officers could meet required training standards.
“We need training for our new hires,” Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Wayne Longo said. “I’ve offered two jobs to people, but there won’t be training available until February 2009. I don’t know if those two same people will be around in 2009.”
Jeff Black, the executive director of the Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, said he was against the idea.
“We’re talking about making a fundamental change with how POST does things,” Black said. “I can’t support making this change.”