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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Ozzie Knezovich

Prosecutor, sheriff candidates debate on KSPS

Election Day is Tuesday, and if you still haven't decided which candidate for Spokane County prosecutor or sheriff you're supporting, these televised debates that aired last night on KSPS-TV may help you decide.

Check out the videos after the jump.

Spokane County crime analyst upset by implications of doctoring numbers

Leslie Brockman, a crime analyst with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office, says she and her coworkers have been pulled into a political spat by members of a political action committee critical of Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Knezovich appeared on several area television newscasts blasting as politically motivated efforts of Integrity First, a group made up of former sheriff's department employees, to obtain public records related to residential burglaries occurring in rural Spokane County during the first half of 2012.

Brockman said Thursday the requests imply that crime analysts somehow cooked the books, a charge she called “insulting.”

“They're insulting the whole department,” Brockman said.

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Playing the Ozzie card

A chosen tactic of outgoing leaders in the Spokane Police Department: talk highly about the sheriff’s plan for regionalizing police forces.

Documents recently released from last December’s investigation into reports that former Assistant Police Chief Scott Stephens had threatened to go “postal” after hearing of his impending demotion contain a line from a “confidante and friend” of Stephens describing the tactic.

In her account of Stephens’ behavior the day he’s alleged to have made the threats, Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said Stephens told her he “wanted to talk to Sheriff Knezovich about becoming his undersheriff. [Stephens] said he would push the sheriff for a regional agency and be a part of that team. (This was very similar to previous Chief Kirkpatrick’s ‘threats’ when she was leaving her position a year ago.)”

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, however, said it's news to him.

“I never had those conversations,” Knezovich said Thursday. “I feel honored that they felt that way, that they wouldn’t mind working for me. But I didn’t talk to them.”

For her part, former Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said in an email Thursday that as the department continued to lose credibility with the public over various misbehavior, she told officers that “if they did not start taking control of themselves … then a good argument could be made for the Sheriff's Office to take over the police department and become a regionalized force under the Sheriff and I would advocate for it.”

Kirkpatrick, now working as the chief deputy sheriff in King County, said she assumed this potential advocacy for regionalization “is the ‘threat’ Officer DeRuwe is referencing.”

Informant led Spokane detectives to suspected drug dealers

A confidential informant led Spokane County Sheriff’s Office detectives to a married couple dealing meth out of a Spokane apartment, according to criminal complaint filed in United States District Court Tuesday.

Spokane County Sheriff’s detectives arrested Mark W. Bush (pictured left) and Crystal K. Peterson on the morning of April 4 after serving a search warrant to their apartment at 1717 E. Mallon Avenue.

Court documents describe the informant as a felon with several convictions including theft, burglary, and lying to authorities. The informant was compensated financially for the information leading to the arrest of Bush and Peterson, documents show.

The informant bought meth from Bush three times during the investigation, they told detectives, but Peterson was only present during a deal on one occasion.

Investigators seized 11 ounces of meth from the home during the search including four small bags inside a box of Nilla Wafers. Additional bags of meth were found in the bedroom in a black bag, a dresser drawer and in the kitchen freezer.

Investigators also found a purse under a mattress in the master bedroom with a cell phone and a spiral notebook with a variety of names and phone numbers.

Although the Drug Enforcement Administration was not present at the time of the search warrant last week, a special agent is filing the complaint against Bush and Peterson after Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich pushed for federal charges to give him a longer prison sentence if convicted.

Knezovich compared Bush’s criminal record to convict Eddie Ray Hall who was sentenced to a 16 years in a federal prison last year. Bush is in custody at Spokane County Jail for his 39th arrest in Washington state.

Pursuing federal charges against a repeat offender is a common tactic, Knezovich said, because it can give them a longer prison sentence and keep them off the streets.

Knezovich described this drug ring as localized and the meth was most likely not produced in Spokane.

Related content: Sheriff exasperated with repeat offender

Special Olympics awards Knezovich

Special Olympics Washington honored Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich for his support of the program.

Knezovich received the 2012 Special Olympics Washington Law Enforcement Torch Run Campaign, Sheriff of the Year Award.  Special Olympics Washington gives the award to one Washington sheriff and police chief each year.

Sheriff Knezovich was awarded, in part, for serving with the Law Enforcement Torch Run Campaign for more than eight years. He also participates in Special Olympics Washington events such as Tip a Cop, the Polar Bear Plunge, Cops on Roof Top and the Plane Pull.

“It’s a privilege to be involved with Special Olympics Washington and have the opportunity to meet and support such great athletes,” Knezovich in a Wednesday news release from the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Knezovich has “remained supportive of the movement and most specifically the campaign,” said Tukwila Police Officer Ted Rutt, who presented Knezovich with the award.

”He has lead by example though his active involvement in every Special Olympics related event community wide and has continued to make a difference in lending any assistance available to him,” Rutt said.

‘Sovereigns’ arrested after SWAT standoff

Two men arrested after a SWAT team standoff in Otis Orchards Wednesday have been identified as Michael Francis Hicks, 55, and David Ray Galland, 58.

A sheriff's detective was driving east on Interstate 90 near Sullivan Road when he saw a red truck in front of him with what appeared to be an invalid or modified license plate. The detective advised dispatchers, who confirmed there was no record of the plate.

A sheriff's deputy and a Liberty Lake police officer, both in uniforms and riving marked patrol cars, responded to assist the detective in stopping the vehicle. They followed it northbound on Harvard Road in Liberty Lake, then eastbound to the 25600 block of East Kildea Road in Otis Orchards where they attempted to stop the vehicle.

The truck pulled into a circular driveway “in an attempt to return westbound on Kildea Road,” according to a news release, but the patrol cars blocked it. Hicks, the driver, and Galland refused to exit the vehicle. The deputy, detective and officer didn't approach the truck because of its sovereign license plate and the occupant's refusal to cooperate. The SWAT team was called because law enforcement believed “there was a high probability the occupants may be armed,” according to a news release.

The men's truck had stickers and signs indicating they were part of a growing “sovereign” movement that questions government authority

Hicks and Galland were eventually cut from their seat belts and taken into custody, ending the three-hour standoff. Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich joined SWAT team negotiators because self-proclaimed sovereigns typically recognize the sheriff as the highest law enforcement authority, he said.
“They were, thank goodness, nonviolent and it ended very well,” Knezovich said.
Neither man spoke with police. They were booked into jail for obstructing a public servant and refusal to cooperate. Hicks also is charged with third-degree driving while license suspended.
  

Fired sheriff’s deputy gets job back

A Spokane County sheriff’s deputy who was fired after he damaged a suspect’s car and mishandled drugs from a crime scene has been rehired following a state arbitrator’s ruling.

Deputy Travis Smith was terminated last January for what Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich called a “pattern” of poor work performance, but he was rehired after the arbitrator found that while there was just cause for disciplining him, he should keep his job.

Read the rest of Chelsea Bannach's story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 10: Sheriff's deputy fired for bad behavior

Knezovich offers to lead Spokane police

The search to replace Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick hasn’t even begun, but there’s already a high-profile candidate: Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

 Knezovich confirmed Thursday that he’s willing to serve as the city’s interim chief, an administrative role he believes he could fill while continuing to run the sheriff’s office.

“It wouldn’t be any different than leading a bigger force,” Knezovich said.

Read the rest of Jonathan Brunt's story here.

Past coverage:

Nov. 12: Chief Kirkpatrick to step down on Jan. 2

‘Sovereigns’ gaining attention locally

Deputies were prepared for the worst as they stood by in a Spokane County courtroom earlier this month during routine hearings for mostly low-level felonies.

Their focus was on one of the more benign cases – possession and distribution of marijuana.

But it wasn’t the nature of the allegations that got their attention. It was the defendant, a self-proclaimed “sovereign” who doesn’t consider himself a citizen of the United States even though he was born and raised here.

Adrian B. Shannon, 30, is among a growing number of people who question the legitimacy of federal, state and local government agencies and employ a series of legal maneuvers they believe exempt them from driver’s licenses and birth certificates, paying taxes, or even criminal charges.

“People call it a movement, but it’s individuals, literally sovereigns, that are all learning, ‘Hey we don’t have to put up with these ridiculous laws, because we are the government,’ ” Shannon said.

Read the rest of my Sunday story here.

Steve Tucker makes public appearance

“I'm 4,” says Aidan Cameron to Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick at the YWCA Thursday. Kirkpatrick, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich and County Prosecutor Steve Tucker read to children at the YWCA to support continued federal and state funding for early childhood programs.

Education experts describe children as sponges of learning, soaking up language and information from those around them.

 “They, like adults, learn languages best in an environment where learning enhances their self-esteem and reinforces their sense of who they are and who they are becoming,” according to the International Children's Education.

A revelation Thursday by largely inaccessible Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker could serve as Exhibit A in that theory.

Tucker, who joined Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick and Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich to support early childhood learning programs at the YMCA, shared a humorous vignette about his 3-year-old grandson's impressive vocabulary, including the toddler's unprompted uttering of this all-too-familiar phrase: “I am not availabe to answer that question at this time.”

Sheriff, ombudsman want patrol cameras

For police agencies, cameras that record officer encounters with the public can help prove suspects are guilty and set the record straight if officers are wrongly accused of misconduct.

“It tells you the facts,” Post Falls police Capt. Pat Knight said. “It keeps us out of trouble.”

Over the years, law enforcement officials in Spokane County have largely dismissed cameras as not worth the cost. But as agencies deal with high-profile cases of alleged misconduct, the cameras are getting a new look.

Spokane police Ombudsman Tim Burns recommended in his annual report to City Council earlier this month that cameras be installed in police cars to provide definitive evidence in cases that otherwise would be mostly the officer’s word against the accuser’s.

Read Jonathan Brunt's full story here.

Sheriff’s deputy fired for bad behavior

A Spokane County sheriff’s deputy was fired recently after multiple investigations into allegations of criminal misconduct and poor work performance revealed a pattern of bad behavior.

“If you’re a law enforcement officer, you shouldn’t be committing crimes,” said Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

The latest internal investigation of former Deputy Travis Smith’s behavior began last year after Smith stuck a knife into someone’s seat while searching their vehicle.

He had initiated a routine traffic stop and, after finding some marijuana, obtained a search warrant for the vehicle and seized it. A search the next day turned up brass knuckles with a three- to four-inch knife blade attached and a bandanna with a swastika on it.

Read the rest of Chelsea Bannach's story here.

Reagan to leave sheriff’s PIO spot

Longtime Spokane County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan is being transferred to the office’s internal affairs staff.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said today that he wants to hire a civilian to handle spokesman duties because he needs to fill a sergeant’s position in the division that typically undertakes internal investigations into deputy actions.

Reagan’s transfer won’t be completed until the sheriff hires someone to replace him. The position is being advertised as having an annual salary of $55,000, Knezovich said.

The sheriff hopes to have the move completed by mid-February to mid-March, he said.

Life-savers honored at sheriff’s dinner

Two Spokane County sheriff’s employees have been honored for saving the life of a suicidal man after he was shot by officers.

Deputy Walter Loucks and Sgt. Dale Golman rushed to Michael E. Young after he was shot Dec. 27 and kept him breathing while medics arrived.

Although the move was later criticized as too risky in an internal investigation, Loucks and Golman were honored for their bravery this week during the annual SCOPE (Sheriff’s Community Oriented Policing Effort) and Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner.

Read my full story here.

Sheriff drops the wait in shooting probes

Investigators probing officer-involved shootings will no longer be required to wait at least 72 hours before interviewing Spokane County Sheriff’s Office employees.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich (pictured) announced the change Thursday, ending a departmental practice common at many law enforcement agencies but seen as contradictory and confusing outside of police circles.

The move comes amid continuing public outcry over the nine-day lapse between the Aug. 25 shooting of Spokane Valley pastor and businessman Wayne Scott Creach by Deputy Brian Hirzel, who was allowed to take a scheduled vacation to Montana and Las Vegas before being interviewed by detectives investigating the fatal encounter.

Read the rest of my story here.

Sheriff ruing flap over deputy’s vacation

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich is frustrated and caught off-guard by the public reaction to the decision to allow Deputy Brian Hirzel to leave for vacation just hours after he shot and killed a Spokane Valley pastor late last month. 

Knezovich acknowledges that everything with his department ultimately is his responsibility. But he believes he’s been unfairly portrayed in the decision to allow Hirzel to leave town before explaining the encounter that resulted in the death of 74-year-old Wayne Scott Creach.

Hirzel “was already on vacation when I found out he was on vacation,” Knezovich said. “How do I un-ring that bell? I could have said bring him back in. But I would have just countermanded everything that the (investigative) team had done. That was not my role in the investigation. My role was to stay out of it and not influence it.”

Read Tom Clouse’s full story here.

Sheriff: Ending vacation could taint probe

The interview that should finally explain why a deputy shot and killed a Spokane Valley pastor will come Friday morning – after the deputy returns from a week-long vacation approved by Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

Deputy Brian Hirzel left town the day after an Aug. 25 encounter with Pastor Wayne Scott Creach at his sprawling nursery business, the Plant Farm at 14208 E. 4th Ave.

Officials have only said that Hirzel and Creach had some sort of “confrontation” that ended when Hirzel shot Creach moments after the shirtless 74-year-old grabbed his pistol and went outside to investigate what he may have thought was a prowler.

Knezovich said at a hastily called news conference Wednesday that he approved Hirzel’s vacation partly because the county would have been on the hook to pay for the plane tickets and travel costs for Hirzel and his wife.

But the sheriff said his greatest concern was that he didn’t want to “taint” the investigation by making it appear he was forcing Hirzel to submit to the interview.

“This case is more important” than a vacation, Knezovich said. “We have to ensure the integrity of this investigation and I’m not about to do anything that looks coercive that would jeopardize this investigation.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

On Tuesday, Alan Creach said his mother heard a shout and what sounded like three shots. But a deputy kept Imogene Creach from approaching her husband and she didn’t see anyone providing medical aid, her son said.

Read more in this story: Son offers insight into pastor’s fatal encounter

Past coverage:

Aug. 31: Officer involved in fatal shooting identified

Aug. 31: Mourners note ‘good example’ set by slain clergyman

Aug. 28: Sheriff offers condolences, withholds details

Aug. 27: Valley officer kills pastor at nursery

Knezovich’s ‘support’ falls in gray area

A testament to the popularity of Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich may be the level to which candidates for Spokane County prosecutor are seeking his support.

The situation came to a head last week when incumbent Steve Tucker announced during a debate that he had the support of Knezovich (pictured).

Asked to clarify that support, Tucker made it clear that the sheriff has not endorsed his candidacy.

But Tucker’s opponents – fellow Republicans Chris Bugbee and Dave Stevens, Democrat Frank Malone and unaffiliated candidate Jim Reierson – all said they believe the average voter may not know the difference between support and an official endorsement.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

Jailer fired after inmate lies dead for hours

A Spokane County Jail corrections deputy is challenging his dismissal in March for alleged failure to discover an inmate’s death and then lying about it.

The deputy, Kenneth Downey, is one of four who were implicated in the Nov. 11 incident, in which an inmate lay dead in his cell for eight hours before his death from natural causes was discovered.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said an autopsy revealed that 59-year-old Fredrick James Juhnke had been dead about 8 hours before deputies discovered his death when they came to serve his dinner about 5 p.m.

Read the rest of John Craig’s story here.

Former sheriff Sterk mulls run for sheriff

Former Spokane County Sheriff Mark Sterk may give his successor, Ozzie Knezovich, a run for his money. 

It’s a daunting prospect, Sterk acknowledges, because state Public Disclosure Commission records show Knezovich already has raised $38,778 and spent $17,959.

“That’s one of the things we will look at very carefully, as to whether we can win it or not,” Sterk said Wednesday after registering his potential candidacy with the state Public Disclosure Commission.

Also Wednesday, Knezovich announced he will kick off his re-election campaign with a $35-a-plate breakfast at the Red Lion River Inn today at 7:30 a.m.

Read the rest of John Craig’s story here.

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