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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: City of Spokane

Police chief candidates down to two

Mayor David Condon said Wednesday that he is “very confident” one of two remaining finalists will be the next Spokane police chief, despite a law enforcement panel’s recommendation that he restart the search.

Either Daniel Mahoney, the commanding officer of the Ingleside Police Station within the San Francisco Police Department, or Frank Straub, director of public safety in Indianapolis, will be the city’s next top cop.

Read the rest of my story here.

July 26: Read a summary of the candidates' interviews last week here.

Zehm lawsuit settled for $1.67 million

A $1.67 million out-of-court settlement has been reached in the civil suit against Spokane police filed by relatives of Otto Zehm, the mentally ill janitor who died following a violent confrontation with officers after being mistakenly implicated in a possible theft.

The deal also includes a formal apology by city officials, a recommendation to the Spokane Park Board to name a pavilion after Zehm, crisis intervention training for all police officers and $50,000 for a consultant to advise the city about updates to its use-of-force policy.

Read the rest of the story here.

City’s risk management plan under fire

The City of Spokane may sever its contract with its risk management firm following allegations that the firm pressured police and a city employee to hide potentially incriminating details surrounding a 2010 collision that paralyzed a pedestrian.

According to documents obtained by lawyers representing the paralyzed woman, the city’s contracted insurance adjusters were able to influence the removal of certain details from the official press release about the crash, and reportedly sought to influence the police investigation.

The adjusters, in fact, were able to interview crash witnesses before the investigating officer, who was later advised that “if you guys want a raise” he should work with the risk managers to save the city some money, the documents show.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Public comments invited on police chief

Anyone with opinions on the qualities they would like to see in the new Spokane police chief is invited to attend a committee meeting on Thursday.

Spokane's Police Advisory Committee will hear comments Thursday at its meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the West Central Community Center, 1603 N. Belt St.

The Spokane Police Department and the Officer of Neighborhood Services hopes to provide a second public comment opportunity in April. Citizens can also email comments to the City of Spokane at  policechiefsearch@spokanecity.org.

The City plans to advertise for the police chief position again by the end of this month.

Applications were collected between November and mid-February, but Mayor David Condon said Wednesday that he would like “a larger and more diverse pool” from which to select.

Condon encourages citizens to express their views.

“Restoring public confidence in the Spokane Police Department is my highest priority, and I want to ensure that citizens have an opportunity to tell us what they think is important as we continue with the hiring process,” Condon said in a prepared statement.

New police evidence facility opens

Worker Jeffrey Reeder helps install a high-density mobile shelving system in the City of Spokane's new evidence storage facility aWednesday. (SRphoto/Colin Mulvany)

Spokane-area law enforcement welcomed the opening of a new evidence storage facility Wednesday.

The 66,000-square foot facility at 4010 E. Alki Ave. has fire suppression capabilities not found in the previous 17,000-square foot facility on West Gardner Avenue.

The city announced plans to buy the warehouse in June 2010, more than a year after voters rejected a tax to pay for a new building.

The city borrowed from the main reserve and investment fund while consolidating work space in other buildings to eliminate the need for leased space. The savings went toward purchasing the new building, which cost about $3.4 million with upgrades.

“It's about a 100 percent improvement over our current facility,” said Tom Bell, police evidence technician.

Employees will be transferring evidence to the new facility over the next week.

Mayor Mary Verner said the new facility fills a crucial community need.
“Without the retention of evidence, justice cannot be served,” Verner said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Verner said the new facility should serve Spokane Police Department and Spokane County Sheriff's Office for 50 to 75 years.

City to begin search for new chief in ‘12

The City of Spokane expects to begin a regional or national search for a new police chief by next spring, officials said today.

Spokane Police Department employees are interested in the position but “we also have a desire to look outside the department,” City Administrator Ted Danek told the Public Safety Committee at its monthly meeting. 

Assistant Police Chief Jim Nicks recently announced plans to retire when Chief Anne Kirkpatrick leaves early next year.

Kirkpatrick has said she'll stay until a new chief is appointed, which officials say won't happen until after the mayoral election.

“People are not going to apply until they know who the boss is,” Kirkpatrick said.

Danek said the search, which could take three to six months, could begin in March or April.

Kirkpatrick has always said she planned to stay in Spokane about five years. She said she's looking at other opportunities.

“It's not a retirement, I'm just moving to a different stage in my life,” said Kirkpatrick, adding that neither she nor Nicks will be “lame ducks” in the meantime.

Spokane police majors Scott Stephens and Craig Meidl said after the meeting that they are not interested in applying to be the next police chief.

Past coverage:

Sept. 15: Nicks to retire as Kirkpatrick steps down

April 20: Chief says time in Spokane nearing end


  

Police pension group OKs hypnosis

A retired Spokane police officer will have his hypnosis weight-loss therapy paid for by city tax money.

Members of the Spokane Police Pension and Relief Board unanimously approved the unusual claim from board member Gary Gow at its meeting Thursday.

Gow, who retired from the Spokane Police Department in 1985 after 20 years of service, abstained from voting. He’s been a member of the pension board for 21 years.

Read the rest of my story here.

The story was posted on LawOfficer.com's Facebook page today. The comments are quite interesting.

City: Red-light camera ruling limited

 

Red-light runners caught on camera in Spokane shouldn’t automatically expect a break from a recent court ruling rejecting the city’s method for issuing tickets.

A city official says they’d have to challenge the legality in court, too.

City Attorney Howard Delaney said Monday that Spokane County Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque’s decision affects only the three tickets that were included in the court case. Other motorists who received tickets under the automated system will need to bring their own court challenge before their $124 tickets could be invalidated, Delaney said.

“It’s probably more trouble than it’s worth, frankly,” Delaney said

Read the rest of my story here.

Mayor calls for hiring more officers

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner ordered the hiring of at least six new police officers to fill vacant positions within the department and called for adding more officers next year.

The move comes after Verner, facing a contested bid for re-election this year, sent two plans to City Council members last week that would balance next year’s municipal budget without raising taxes and provide enough money to reverse recent cutbacks to the police force.

“Even in the midst of a Great Recession, the city continues to strive to make Spokane the safest city of our size in the nation,” Verner said. “We are simply having to think creatively about other ways to reach that goal.”

Read the rest of Kevin Graman's story here.

City of Spokane no longer paying Chism

Spokane firefighter Todd Chism has been placed on unpaid layoff status pending the resolution of felony charges that he assaulted Washington State Patrol troopers in Stevens County last month.

City Administrator Ted Danek informed Chism, a lieutenant, of the change during an afternoon meeting at City Hall today, said city spokeswoman Marlene Feist. The change takes effect Friday. Chism earned $93,535 per year.

Chism had been on paid leave from the Spokane Fire Department since April 8, two days after an early-morning confrontation with two troopers alongside Highway 291 just outside the driveway to Chism’s home.

Unpaid layoff status means Chism is no longer employed by the city of Spokane but could be reinstated if felony charges are dropped or reduced to misdemeanors. That happened to Spokane police Detective Jay Mehring and Officer Jay Olsen, but Olsen then resigned before Chief Anne Kirkpatrick fired him.

Mehring and Olsen both received back pay for their time on unpaid layoff status because neither was convicted of a felony.

Past coverage:

April 23: Chism threatened to kill troopers, WSP said

April 9: Firefighter Tasered in DUI arrest

City of Spokane looks at creating new jail

The city of Spokane wants to spend less money housing low-risk inmates and will begin exploring cheaper options, including the possibility of creating its own minimum-security lockup rather than rely on the county jail.

The idea, which could include using a private jail contractor, caused tension this week with county leaders concerned that a city jail could torpedo a four-year regional process aimed at building a new countywide lockup and putting greater emphasis on rehabilitation. The county currently charges daily incarceration fees for housing inmates from the cities.

Read the rest of the story here.

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