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5/25/2006 9:19 am

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5/25/2006 9:19 am



The Oregonian

A North Precinct lieutenant last fall filled out the answers on tests for 15 of his sergeants and detectives and submitted the emergency management exams to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The tests must be completed by each officer as a condition for local police to obtain federal grant money.

"I took the test and entered those answers in for everybody," Lt. Randy Kane said in an interview Monday. "It was basically a shortcut."

Once questions were raised, the precinct commander agreed the practice was not appropriate and directed the lieutenant to handle it differently the next time. No investigation was conducted, and the lieutenant was not disciplined.

"I wasn't happy with the way it was done," North Precinct Cmdr. Cliff Madison said. "I know it wasn't done to skirt the system, but it could be perceived that way."

As a condition of obtaining federal preparedness grants, emergency first-responders, such as police and firefighters, are required to have supervisors complete an online National Incident Management System introductory course by Sept. 30, the end of the federal fiscal year.

President Bush called for the system to be developed in 2003, partly in response to the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

In the Portland Police Bureau, that meant command staff from sergeants and detectives up to the chief had to fill out a four-page test of 25 multiple-choice questions online after reviewing course information, provided on a Web site called

"What this does is create a unified national incident command system, applicable for all federal, state and local jurisdictions on how to respond to emergency incidents ranging from terror attacks to natural disasters, " said Russ Knocke, a spokesman from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Kane said he completed the exams for his sergeants and detectives as a matter of convenience, and then directed them to review the course material. They were to let him know that they had done so and that they understood the information, but he did not require them to take the tests.

In order to fill out the exams for his employees, Kane had to enter each one's name, Social Security number, work phone and e-mail address. Kane said he obtained the Social Security numbers from the Police Bureau.

"I did what I did," Kane said. "We're going to do it differently next time."

Shawn Graff, who was named director of the city's Office of Emergency Management in March, said he hadn't heard of North Precinct's testing process.

"If this is what happened, it's disappointing. It's something I would look into," Graff said. "Each individual is supposed to take the tests, because everybody needs to be familiar with it."

Some supervisors in other precincts said it took them an hour or two to fill out the test and that the information was very basic. The Web site says the online course and test could take up to three hours.

North Precinct sergeants and detectives received a memo from the chief's office last year about the upcoming exam, and they were awaiting more information when Kane told them he had already taken their exams for them.

Several supervisors in the precinct would not talk publicly, but privately said they were "appalled" by the lieutenant's action. They said they suspected that if a lower-ranking officer had completed another's test, he or she would have been the subject of an internal affairs investigation. Some precinct sergeants and detectives said they decided to take the exams themselves once they learned what Kane had done.

North Precinct Sgt. Charlie Brown would only say, "I've taken the test. I read through the information and did the test, sent it in by computer."

Sgt. Kim Keist, who took the test on duty at Southeast Precinct, said the test was time-consuming and that it was difficult to concentrate on because of interruptions at the precinct. But, she said, she did it because she knew it was a federal requirement for every supervisor.

Madison said Kane's handling of the test was "not the best route obviously" but he thinks his lieutenant was simply trying to make it easier for his sergeants and detectives to review the course information without cutting into their work.

"I still don't believe he was thinking, 'Let's get around the system.' It was done in his mind to be a timesaver," Madison said.

Kane, who has taken a test to be a captain and is awaiting the results, said he took the tests for his sergeants and detectives partly so they'd avoid the "hassle" and "confusion" he experienced logging onto the Web site to take the test.

"I don't have any concerns that they don't know the material. It's real simple material," he said.

Kane also said he wasn't worried about typing in his co-workers' Social Security numbers, "considering it was going on a Web site to the federal government."

According to the Web site, the test is run by the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Web site also says that evidence of "unauthorized attempts to defeat or circumvent security features, use the system for other than intended purposes, deny service to authorized users, to access, obtain, alter or destroy information, or otherwise interfere with the system or its operation is prohibited and could result in criminal prosecution under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986, and the National Information Infrastructure Protection Act."

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