One was a sheriff who raped a minor. Another was an officer who stole money from clients of his property-management business. These are among the former law enforcement officials who were stripped of their certifications last year.
In 2020, 44 Idaho police officers had their law enforcement certifications revoked because of misconduct, according to records provided to the Idaho Statesman by Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training.
The total number of Idaho POST decertifications in 2020 is up from the previous year, as 39 officers were stripped of their credentials in 2019, according to previous Idaho Statesman reporting. As of March, POST has decertified two officers in 2021.
Since 2002, 486 Idaho police officers have been decertified. When an officer is decertified by the POST council, the officer is ineligible for certification for at least 10 years, according to POST’s rules.
POST Division Administrator Brad Johnson told the Statesman in an email that the uptick from 2019 to 2020 could be due to different reasons, but he doesn’t think more officers are breaking the rules.
“While we can’t definitively account for the increase, I do not believe it is a result of an increase in officer misconduct,” Johnson said.
He said a manager with POST’s Office of Professional Responsibility was upgraded from part time to full time to keep up with the caseload, and new investigators were brought in around the same time.
“All of this change in how the unit functions increased its efficiency and effectiveness, which likely had an effect on the increased number of cases now being managed annually,” Johnson said.
Police officers can lose their certification based on varying allegations of misconduct: drinking alcohol on duty, having inappropriate relationships with victims or witnesses, lying in the course of an investigation or being convicted of a crime, to name a few.
POST decertified officers from agencies across the Gem State in 2020, ranging from larger agencies like the Caldwell Police Department and the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, to smaller police departments in places like Spirit Lake, Preston and St. Anthony.
POST also certifies officers in areas such as corrections and conservation. In 2020, POST revoked the certifications of 13 people listed as Idaho Department of Correction employees, as well as others who worked at juvenile detention centers. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game saw one conservation officer decertified in 2020.
Some of the more notable decertification cases in 2020 include two former police officers and a former county sheriff, all three convicted of felonies.
Former Lincoln County Sheriff Rene Rodriguez resigned in April 2019 after being charged with sexually abusing a child in Blaine County. A jury later found him guilty on multiple counts of lewd conduct with a child under the age of 16 and single counts of rape and child sexual abuse.
On May 21, 2020, Rodriguez was sentenced to at least 14 years in prison. His POST certification was revoked weeks later on June 10, according to POST records.
Brandon Curtiss, a former member of the Nez Perce Tribal Police, pleaded guilty on Feb. 6, 2020, to one count of felony grand theft after he was accused of stealing nearly $50,000 from clients at his Meridian-based property management company.
Curtiss is also a former leader of the far-right group 3% of Idaho and traveled to Oregon to provide “security” in the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
John Mainini, a former deputy with the Nez Perce County Sheriff’s Office, was decertified on July 16 after he pleaded guilty to a felony count of tax evasion. He was sentenced to three years of supervised probation and ordered to perform community service.
These three and others are listed in the Idaho Statesman’s database on POST decertifications, which includes all Idaho police officers decertified since 2002.
Officers under investigation by POST can either be decertified by the agency or voluntarily relinquish their license. POST does not maintain separate records of those who were decertified or relinquished their certifications. For that reason, the database does not differentiate between the two routes, as both are considered decertifications.
The violations noted in the database show the initial or alleged violations levied against each officer. While it is possible for POST to find additional or fewer violations in the course of an investigation, it is rare for a POST investigation to reveal entirely different violations.
While the council does keep records of those final violations, the records aren’t stored in a way that allows the data to be easily provided to the public. The records must be pulled manually for each officer.