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Department of Justice Recommendations

On Dec. 18, 2014, the Department of Justice released their report on the Spokane Police Department, following an 18-month review. Though the department didn't find evidence of racially biased policing or excessive use of force, investigators included 42 recommendations for improving training, policies and community engagement.

The Justice Department worked with Spokane police to implement the recommendations over a six-month period and issued a six-month evaluation on December 14, 2015. A final report will follow in June 2016. Here, we track the Spokane Police Department's progress on implementing reforms.

This page was last updated on Feb. 15, 2016 based on SPD's January report from the Office of Professional Accountability.

Read more coverage of the Justice Department review:

Many of the recommendations concern use of force policies, training and review. For a glossary of commonly-used terms and acronyms relating to use of force, click here.

All findings and recommendations are taken from the Department of Justice's report, but many have been re-phrased to add additional context or expand on the text in the report. This page was created by Rachel Alexander and Dan Gayle and is maintained by Rachel Alexander. Questions or comments? Email Rachel at rachela@spokesman.com.

Recommendation categories

training
These recommendations suggest changes to the way officers are trained.
union
SPD has consulted with or is in the process of consulting the Spokane Police Guild and the Lieutenants and Captains Association about these recommendations.
council
Spokane City Council has identified these recommendations as ones that may require council action to fully implement. Councilman Jon Snyder, who chairs the city's Public Safety Committee, said in many cases he's flagged recommendations because a city ordinance or resolution carries greater weight than an administrative policy.
ombudsman
These recommendations involve the duties, policies or practices of the police ombudsman's office or the police ombudsman commission.
community
These recommendations suggest changes to SPD or police ombudsman communication with the public, or will require community input to implement.
complete
These recommendations have been fully implemented.
in progress
These recommendations are in progress.
partially complete
These are recommendations the police department does not intend to continue working on that the Department of Justice does not consider completed. As of the six-month review, no recommendations fall into this category.
no progress
Documents submitted to the Department of Justice did not sufficiently show progress, according to the six-month review.


Finding 4.1

  • complete
  • in progress
  • in training

Issues with old use of force forms made it difficult for officers to correctly document the tools and tactics they used in use of force incidents.

Recommendation

Though the new forms now being used will potentially solve the problem, SPD should still train officers on proper reporting of tools and tactics when force is used.

Status:

Supervisors received training on Internal Affairs procedures and reporting software in September 2015. Changes have been made to the menus in the reporting software to made it easier for supervisors to enter data. All officers have completed training on the new program as of January 2016.

View the full report »

Finding 4.2

  • union
  • complete
  • in progress

Deadly force incidents are investigated by the independent Spokane Investigative Regional Response (SIRR) team, which means they don't undergo a chain of command review within the department. This prevents the department from fully understanding and analyzing all types of force used by the officer.

Recommendation

The supervisor of an officer involved in a deadly force incident should always complete a use of force report for the incident.

Status:

Both policies have been revised and adopted to reflect this new practice. A use of force report has been completed for officer-involved shootings since the non-fatal May 6, 2015 shooting of Craig Burton.

View the full report »

Finding 4.3

  • in progress

The Spokane Investigative Regional Response (SIRR) team, which reviews deadly force incidents, does not use a common template or consistent format for compiling all information related to its criminal investigation, making it difficult for others to review the file.

Recommendation

The SIRR team should develop a common template for all deadly force incident files.

Status:

A new template was shared with the prosecutor, police ombudsman attorney and other stakeholders, then adopted.The DOJ will need to review case files with the new format before the recommendation is completed, but other agencies are currently using the template.

View the full report »

Finding 4.4

  • in progress

The SIRR team and SPD do not document the case flow of deadly force incidents, making it difficult to track the status of the review of each deadly force file.

Recommendation

SPD should develop a formal way to track the investigatory (criminal and administrative) process and include this tracking sheet with every deadly force file.

Status:

The SIRR team members have agreed to use a case flow sheet created by Lt. Steve Whol. The DOJ still needs to review files where the case flow sheet is used before the recomendation is considered complete, but other agencies are using the tracking sheet.

View the full report »

Finding 4.5

  • council
  • complete
  • in progress

A number of non-deadly use of force incident files did not contain supplemental documentation such as photos, radio transmissions and recordings, and computer-aided dispatch (CAD) logs.

Recommendation

SPD should include all supporting documentation (e.g., photos, radio transmissions) in all non-deadly use of force files, and these complete files should be saved electronically in one location. SPD should audit these files annually in order to ensure that they are complete.

Status:

Photos and links to body camera video can now be saved in use of force files, and completed files are saved electronically in one location. Program manager Kathy Armstrong completed a 2014 audit of use of force files on Feb. 5, 2015 and found no major issues. The department will perform an annual audit of case files to check documentation. Councilman Jon Snyder flagged this as a recommendation that may require City Council action.

View the full report »

Finding 4.6

  • council
  • no progress

The city of Spokane’s Use of Force Commission recommended in 2013 that SPD conduct a cultural audit to better understand the organizational perspectives regarding use of force.

Recommendation

SPD should consult with the city of Spokane’s use of force commission to clarify and define their request for a cultural audit and to determine if a further examination of the department's culture is necessary.

Status:

The Use of Force Commission said in a letter made public on March 23 that an audit had not been completed yet, but applauded the work Chief Frank Straub has done to improve department culture and transparancy. Given that work, the Commission said they'd leave the decision about whether a formal culture audit still makes sense up to SPD. In a six-month progress report released Dec. 14, 2015, the DOJ said, this recommendation has not been started. Mayor David Condon has since fired Straub and formed the Police Leadership Advisory Committee to provide input on selecting a new police chief and guidance on a culture audit. The committee is planning to help SPD program manager Kathy Armstrong create a request for proposals to conduct the audit, which should be completed by the summer of 2016. Councilman Jon Snyder flagged this as a recommendation that may require City Council action.

View the full report »

Finding 4.7

  • complete
  • in progress

The annual analytical review of use of force data, conducted by the SPD’s IA division, is not comprehensive - it's limited to the documentation of the types of tools and tactics used and the number of times force is used per employee.

Recommendation

SPD should analyze use of force reporting data on a semiannual basis, and before and after major policy or procedure changes, in order to identify trends and quickly remedy any issues through remedial training or discipline. Analysis should include data about age, sex, race, mental impairments, geographic location and citizen complaints.

Status:

A comprehensive analysis of 2014 use of force incidents was completed Feb. 10, 2015 and presented to command staff on Feb. 16, 2015. The report's authors received feedback from CNA, a Department of Justice subcontractor, to incorporate into future reports. WSU researcher Steve James is also looking at the data for further analysis over the next few months. Work is continuing on the 2015 analysis.

View the full report »

Finding 4.8

  • complete

Although the SPD has consistently tracked use of force reports in a spreadsheet and posted individual use of force reports on their website, it has just begun producing a formal annual use of force report and releasing the report to the public.

Recommendation

SPD should continue to publish annual use of force reports and release these reports to the public. Reports should include data about officer and subject characteristics, tools and tactics used, and broader context including total number of citizen contacts and calls for service, crime rates and population changes.

Status:

A comprehensive analysis of 2014 use of force was posted to the police website and presented at a Feb. 17, 2015 Public Safety Committee meeting. A mid-year 2015 report was also shared in September 2015.

View the full report »

Finding 4.9

  • council
  • complete

Fifteen SPD officers had 5 or more uses of force in the data analyzed from 2009-2013. While that frequency doesn't warrant an early warning notification, more examination of those incidents is necessary to identify potential patterns of behavior.

Recommendation

SPD should further examine the patterns of behavior of officers with a high frequency of use of force incidents. This additional examination should be conducted every four years.

Status:

Sgt. Steve Braun sent an updated policy to CNA for review on April 23 after incorporating their input and suggestions from training staff. He has also begun an examination of officers for the past four years. Councilman Jon Snyder flagged this as a recommendation that may require City Council action. CNA said at their March 19, 2015 site visit that the recommendation will no longer apply after the early intervention system is updated and considers the recommendation complete.

View the full report »

Finding 5.1

  • complete

Officers noted that changes to the organizational structure and the department’s policies and procedures, which have occurred in rapid succession over the past 18-24 months, have been inconsistently communicated with all members of the department, specifically those most affected by the changes. Many officers interviewed said they had been in their current position for four months to one year.

Recommendation

SPD executive leadership should hold meetings with their personnel to discuss the changes, the intended strategy, the reasoning behind the changes, and the impact of these changes, and to reaffirm the department's overall mission. They should also provide an avenue for officer to submit comments and suggestions back up the chain of command.

Status:

The department has adopted an internal communication strategy, and program manager Kathy Armstrong is working with public information officer Teresa Fuller on internal communication initiatives. All evaluations and rosters from in-service training discussion about internal communications were sent to CNA.

View the full report »

Finding 5.2

  • council
  • in progress

Although the department provides recently promoted officers with a checklist of job requirements, a number of officers expressed concern over the lack of formal processes (i.e., manuals, transition period, mentoring) for officer promoted to the sergeant, lieutenant and captain levels.

Recommendation

Manuals outlining the training and learning requirements, transitional period, and mentoring opportunities for all promotions to supervisory-level positions should be updated or developed.

Status:

Assistant training director Sgt. Dave Overhoff formed committees to provide input for the different supervisory-level positions, starting with Sergeant training. He's currently working on a promotional mentorship program with a syllabus. A draft syllabus has been sent to CNA. Councilman Jon Snyder said City Council may act to direct the city's Human Resources office to formalize a process for Lieutenant and Captain promotions.

View the full report »

Finding 5.3

  • in progress
  • in training

There was a lack of consensus among officers' responses to questions about the use of force on subjects attempting to flee from custody, the use of discretion when issuing a fellow officer a speeding ticket, and the justification in using questionable practices to achieve good ends. This discrepancy is a potential sign of issues in training and the need for additional clarification from department leadership on these topics.

Recommendation

SPD leadership should reinforce fair and impartial policing practices and provide additional training on these topics.

Status:

Lt. Kevin King sent several employees to the Department of Justice COPS office's Procedural Justice training in spring 2014. All officers received procedural justice training as part of April 2015 in-service training. Additional training took place in November 2015. All SPD supervisors were sent to training through the University of Illinois in late January 2016.

View the full report »

Finding 6.1

  • union
  • complete
  • in progress

Notifications from the SPD’s early intervention system (EIS) regarding use of force are only sent to the defensive tactics cadre, though an Internal Affairs lieutenant, executive leadership and members of the Use of Force Review Board have informal access to this information.

Recommendation

SPD should formalize the EIS notification process and include the officer’s supervisor, IA, the officer’s union representative, and executive leadership in this notification process

Status:

Lt. Justin Lundgren met with the Spokane Police Guild leadership on Feb. 3, 2015, to discuss this recommendation. He also provided the Lieutenants and Captains Vice President with a copy of all recommendations and requested input. The draft policy incorporating feedback has been adopted. A revised policy was approved by former Chief Frank Straub on July 31, 2015 and will be included in the SPD policy manual.

View the full report »

Finding 6.2

  • complete
  • in progress

Although the development of an early intervention system is a clear improvement, this system could be further refined by collecting detailed information on the incidents that trigger early intervention.

Recommendation

SPD should expand the type of information its EIS collects, such as sustained complaints, commendations, completed training and absenteeism.

Status:

These changes have been written into the new policy, which was approved by former Chief Frank Straub on July 31, 2015.

View the full report »

Finding 6.3

  • complete
  • in progress

The early intervention system could be further improved by lowering the threshold of the number of use of force incidents before a notification is made.

Recommendation

The SPD should adjust the triggering criteria in its EIS from six to four use of force incidents per officer per year. In 2013, this would have resulted in an alert for 3.4 percent of patrol officers, excluding K9 units.

Status:

The criteria were changed on Jan. 1, 2015. These changes have been written into the new policy, which was approved by former Chief Frank Straub on July 31, 2015.

View the full report »

Finding 6.4

  • complete
  • in progress

The SPD use-of-force policy does not reflect current departmental practices on pointing firearms or on new use of force reporting software.

Recommendation

SPD should establish both periodic and ad hoc procedures to update its policy manual to ensure that it is consistent with departmental practices.

Status:

All revised policies have been reviewed by the city attorney's office. Several SPD officers are working on making ad hoc policy changes and systematic updates. A new policy on the process for policy updates was sent to executive staff in September 2015 and will be incorporated into a revised SPD policy manual.

View the full report »

Finding 6.5

  • complete
  • in progress

The SPD use of force policy lacks sufficient detail on the levels of force, types of tools and tactics available to officers, certification requirements, the importance of de-escalation, and post-use of force review procedures.

Recommendation

SPD should immediately update its UOF policy to ensure that it is comprehensive and consistent with the departmental practices.

Status:

The policy has been updated after discussions between several SPD leaders. Proposed changes have been incorporated into a revised Use of Force policy, which was adopted in late 2015.

View the full report »

Finding 7.1

  • complete
  • in progress
  • in training

The Spokane Police Department's training policy (policy 208) does not reflect the current use of force training conducted by SPD, and documentation on use of force training is lacking.

Recommendation

SPD should revise policy 208 to ensure that it reflects current departmental practices and requirements for use of force training.

Status:

Lt. Kevin King and the Defensive Tactics Cadre are working with WSU researcher Steve James on this recommendation and have developed a new lesson plan for use of force training. A revised training policy has been sent to the unions and executive staff. The training policy has been incorporated into the policy manual.

View the full report »

Finding 7.2

  • community
  • in progress
  • in training

SPD policy requires an annual training plan to inform the department’s training needs for the upcoming year, but the department does not have a training plan in place.

Recommendation

SPD should establish a committee to evaluate and determine department-wide training needs and develop an annual training plan.

Status:

Interim Chief Rick Dobrow established a committee for long-range planning, comprised of external partners, criminal justice training experts, and SPD staff. The committee met twice in February 2015 and is continuing discussion on formatting the plan. A 2016 training plan is in effect.

View the full report »

Finding 7.3

  • in progress

The evaluation and tracking of SPD’s training sessions is limited, and does not include data to look at trends in individual performance, officer behavior, or department-wide practice.

Recommendation

SPD should develop a centralized database to collect information about training and analyze the data to identify and address training deficiencies.

Status:

The city's information and technology officer, Eric Finch, approved purchase of software for training management on July 7, and the sofrware was actually purchased in September 2015. Training on the software began in October 2015, and it is currently being used.

View the full report »

Finding 7.4

  • complete
  • in progress
  • in training

SPD’s documentation on the lateral neck restraint (LNR) control hold is lacking. Limited documentation of training on how to properly conduct an LNR increases the department’s liability if injury or death to the suspect were to occur.

Recommendation

SPD should re-examine its policies, procedures, and training on the use of the LNR and require a deadly force review every time a level 2 LNR, which is intended to render the subject unconscious, is used.

Status:

An updated policy on neck restraints has been added to the policy manual. The new policy requires officers to complete a use of force report for any neck restraint, whether the person it's used on is rendered unconscious or not. The revised use of force policy was sent out to officers in December 2015 and will be covered in additional roll call and in-service trainings.

View the full report »

Finding 7.5

  • complete
  • in progress
  • in training

Although SPD’s rifle policy provides direction on the circumstances in which an officer is allowed to use a rifle, it lacks detailed guidance on how officers should properly deploy their rifles. Analysis of deadly force incidents from 2009-2013 suggests the rifle deployment policy is not strict enough.

Recommendation

SPD should update its rifle policy and provide officers with explicit and more detailed guidance on the proper deployment of rifles, and require greater supervision and communication for rifle deployment.

Status:

Range master Sgt. Rob Boothe is leading this recommendation and made policy revisions after looking at best practices in other law enforcement agencies. A revised policy was reviewed by the city attorney's office and incorporated into the police department police manual with other revised policies.

View the full report »

Finding 7.6

  • council
  • complete
  • in progress
  • in training

Although SPD provides its officers with refresher crisis intervention training (CIT) on a continual basis, there is no formal recertification process.

Recommendation

SPD should update its training policies to reflect the CIT recertification requirement and continue to work with mental health professionals to ensure training is relevant.

Status:

SPD has provided refresher training requiring officers to work at a mental health call center alongside mental health professionals, rather than doing a classrom-based exercise. All officers who needed refresher training have completed it as of June 19. More officers will be recertified by the end of November 2015. Four hours of training will be offered every two years, and the recertification requirement will be included in the finalized training plan. Councilman Jon Snyder said City Council may act to formalize a CIT recertification requirement.

View the full report »

Finding 8.1

  • union
  • complete
  • no progress

The prosecutor’s lengthy timeline to review deadly force incidents creates delays in the administrative review of deadly use of force incidents.

Recommendation

SPD should begin its administrative investigation into deadly use of force after the SIRR team completes its investigation instead of waiting until the prosecutor has made a decision. SPD should formalize this process in its policies.

Status:

A revised deadly force policy says the administrative investigation can begin before the prosecutor has issued a finding, but involved officers cannot be interviewed until a finding is issued or the Chief directs the department to interview them after consulting with unions. SPD is also releasing body camera video and reports from deadly force incidents after the criminal investigations is complete.

View the full report »

Finding 8.2

  • union
  • no progress

The administrative review panel (ARP) has rarely issued disciplinary or corrective actions in use of force incidents, likely because its review is limited to reviewing whether an officer followed the use of force policy.

Recommendation

SPD should expand the scope of the ARP to allow panel members to vote on officer tactics and decision making and policy violations outside the use of force.

Status:

On Feb. 5, 2015, Lt. Justin Lundgren provided the Spokane Police Guild and the Lieutenants and Captains Association with a copy of the Las Vegas Collaborative Reform Process, which explains their voting process. The unions are currently reviewing this information because it changes a component of the disciplinary system. Lundgren said the Chief's Office and unions need to discuss this further before a new policy can be written.

View the full report »

Finding 8.3

  • no progress

SPD’s policy manual does not accurately describe the ARP process or detail the responsibility of the ARP and its members.

Recommendation

SPD should update the policy manual to ensure that it accurately reflects the current ARP process and provides detailed guidance on the roles and responsibilities of each ARP member.

Status:

Lt. Justin Lundgren will be working on developing this policy after implementation of recommendation 8.2, which covers changes in the ARP process.

View the full report »

Finding 8.4

  • complete
  • in progress

SPD’s process for tracking the implementation of the recommendations made by the chain of command, ARP, Use of Force Review Board and Deadly Force Review Board is informal.

Recommendation

SPD should develop a system to track the information exchange between the Office of Professional Accountability and the supervisors who are in charge of ensuring that the recommendations are implemented.

Status:

A tracking system has been designed and was sent out to the entire department in an April 9, 2015 training bulletin. It was included in an update to the Internal Affairs standard operating procedure.

View the full report »

Finding 8.5

  • complete
  • in progress

The Use of Force Review Board’s policies and procedures are not formally documented in the SPD policy manual.

Recommendation

SPD should formally document the UOFRB’s policies and outcomes and should collectively review non-deadly use of force incidents on a monthly basis.

Status:

The Use of Force Review Board's policies are included in the revised use of force policy, which has been adopted and sent out to the department. The board began meeting in January 2016.

View the full report »

Finding 8.6

  • union
  • council
  • ombudsman
  • no progress

SPD Administrative Review Panels for deadly force incidents (D-ARPs) currently lack a civilian presence.

Recommendation

Although civilian members (e.g., the ombudsman, SPD director of strategic initiatives) are included in the Deadly Force Review Board, SPD should also include the ombudsman in the D-ARP.

Status:

SPD says this recommendation will require consultation with the Spokane Police Guild and Lieutenants and Captains Association because it's a change in the ombudsman’s role per agreements with both unions. It's been referred to the Chief's Office for discussion at labor management meetings, which start later in 2016. "To be honest I don't see that happening without a push from us," Councilman Jon Snyder said at a Feb. 20, 2015 council study session.

View the full report »

Finding 8.7

  • complete
  • in progress

SPD’s recent revisions to the Deadly Force Review Board have expanded the scope of the review board’s purpose and goals. While these changes increase transparency, they can also negatively affect tactics, training, and equipment after a deadly force incident if reviews feel they cannot candidly offer recommendations on changes after an incident.

Recommendation

SPD should reassess the purpose and goal of the DFRB to ensure that it both provides transparency and maintains its ability to effectively assess tactics, training, and equipment after a deadly force incident. Public release of facts about an incident should happen after recommendations have been made.

Status:

The Deadly Force Review Board was discussed with executive staff, training staff, captains and unions. A revised policy was included in the department's new use of force policy.

View the full report »

Finding 8.8

  • community
  • complete
  • in training
  • no progress

While the organizational changes to IA are an encouraging sign of progress, many interviewees—both internal and external to the department—noted that they were concerned about the initial lack of training among the newly assigned IA investigators.

Recommendation

SPD should formalize the new IA training requirements and guidelines in the department’s policy manual and communicate these changes to the department and community stakeholders.

Status:

Lt. Justin Lundgren is working on this project, as described in recommendation 4.1, and will communicate the training requirements to other members of the department once they are formally adopted. Director Tim Schwering will share the new requirements with the public during his continuing outreach efforts and public meetings.

View the full report »

Finding 9.1

  • council
  • ombudsman
  • community
  • no progress

The Office of the Police Ombudsman (OPO) lacks formal procedures on the new role and responsibilities of the ombudsman and the newly appointed commission members.

Recommendation

The OPO should formalize the roles and responsibilities of the ombudsman and the commission members into official OPO policies, procedures and bylaws.

Status:

Prior to the removal of three ombudsman commissioners following a city investigation, ombudsman commissioners and staff were working on a literature review of policies and procedures in other communities with civilian oversight. The city investigation concluded some commissioners were overstepping their role by attempting to create office procedures without an ombudsman in place. Since it began meeting in August 2015, the new ombudsman commission has discussed work on policies at several meetings. Shortly after the recommendation came out, Councilman Jon Snyder said a legislative assistant or council member should attend every ombudsman commission meeting so the council can assist as needed. That has not happened regularly since the commission was re-formed.

View the full report »

Finding 9.2

  • ombudsman
  • community
  • no progress

The community lacks a comprehensive understanding of the Office of the Police Ombudsman (OPO)'s current role and responsibilities.

Recommendation

To ensure improved public understanding of, and commitment to the new OPO’s roles and responsibilities, the OPO should collaborate with the SPD to leverage both of their existing community outreach capabilities and to identify new ways to communicate the new OPO's role and responsibilities to the public.

Status:

Prior to their removal from the ombudsman commission, commissioners Rachel Dolezal and Adrian Dominguez were working on outreach strategies for the commission, which may include a web presence, digital and paper surveys and research on best practices for connecting with neighborhood councils and other community groups. The ombudsman's office has been without an ombudsman since January 2015, and without a full-time staff person since May 2015, so little has been done about office outreach.

View the full report »

Finding 9.3

  • ombudsman
  • no progress

The Office of the Police Ombudsman (OPO) is not well integrated into all mechanisms designed to review use of force.

Recommendation

The SPD should continue to integrate the ombudsman into all review mechanisms, including the the Use of Force Review Board and Administrative Review Panels for deadly force incidents. As such, the OPO and the commission members should also participate in all relevant use of force training offered by SPD.

Status:

Former ombudsman commissioners Kevin Berkompas and Rachel Dolezal set up a monthly recurring meeting with former Chief Frank Straub to discuss these issues, but that meeting was cited as an example of commissioners not being transparant in a city investigation which removed Dolezal from the commission and led Berkompas to resign. Some current commissioners have attended use of force training in the past. That training will likely continue, and there's been some discussion of a formal policy on commissioner training since the commission began meeting again in August 2015.

View the full report »

Finding 9.4

  • ombudsman
  • community
  • no progress

Although the Office of the Police Ombudsman (OPO)'s monthly and annual reporting is thorough and complete, a number of community members interviewed were not aware of the reports generated by the OPO.

Recommendation

The OPO should increase the awareness of its monthly and annual report by making these reports more succinct and by actively meeting with community stakeholders to discuss these reports.

Status:

The ombudsman's office has been vacant since January 2015, and the office has not produced a monthly report since April 2015.

View the full report »

Finding 10.1

  • community
  • complete

Although SPD has increased its community outreach efforts over the past 12-18 months, community members interviewed noted a limited understanding of and confidence in several SPD processes and activities associated with use of force incidents.

Recommendation

SPD should sustain and institutionalize these outreach efforts by establishing a continued community outreach strategy and plan.

Status:

Kathy Armstrong is doing community outreach presentations about the DOJ reform process, use of force and recent trainings. Lt. Tracie Meidl, her staff and Armstrong have developed a new community outreach strategy, which can be viewed at bit.ly/spdoutreach. The Office of Professional Accountability has been posting more information on social media and doing community outreach presentations. The Defensive Tactics Cadre has also presented at college campuses and other venues.

View the full report »

Finding 10.2

  • community
  • complete

Although nearly every community organization interviewed noted that SPD outreach and participation in the community has recently improved, nearly all interviewees also noted the need for SPD to initiate more consistent and accessible public forums and meetings.

Recommendation

SPD should leverage existing or past outreach programs to increase its active engagement with the community.

Status:

Lt. Tracie Meidl and Kathy Armstrong emailed outreach contacts to inform them of the March 19 Police Advisory Committee meeting. Meidl and her team are planning a continuation or expansion of all of their current outreach programs, including the Police Activities League and Youth and Police Initiative.

View the full report »

Finding 10.3

  • council
  • community
  • complete
  • in progress

Due to budgetary constraints, SPD has not held a citizen’s academy in several years.

Recommendation

Similar to its media academy, SPD should hold a citizen’s academy on an annual basis.

Status:

A five week citizens academy was held in spring 2015, with topics like police procedures, Emergency Response Unit, K9, Internal Affairs processes, civilian oversight, Office of Police Ombudsman, use of force reality-based training, VIRTRA, body cameras, and Crisis Intervention training. Councilman Jon Snyder said the city council may pass a resolution supporting a twice-yearly academy. A use of force training class for civilians was held on Jan. 22, 2016.

View the full report »

Finding 10.4

  • community
  • in progress

SPD participates in the city’s Police Advisory Committee, but does not have a department-initiated advisory council. SPD personnel and community members say the PAC meetings are ineffective and not necessarily reflective of the entire community, and membership on the committee is stagnant.

Recommendation

SPD should form a chief’s advisory council of about 10-15 community leaders representing various perspectives with meetings held at least quarterly.

Status:

This recommendation has been referred to the Chief's Office. Efforts have been focused on reviving the existing Police Advisorty Committee, which the department says has been more engaged. New members have joined, and more guests are attending quarterly meetings. SPD has also established the Spokane Faith Leaders & Police Community Alliance. SPD is more actively promoting the committee on social media and by emailing community contacts.

View the full report »

Finding 10.5

  • council
  • in progress

Interviewees from both the community and the SPD noted that a lack of adequate staffing directly impacts the SPD’s ability to conduct community outreach and improve police-community relationships.

Recommendation

SPD should conduct a staffing analysis to determine if the department is meeting its operational needs and has an adequate amount of staff to ensure its continued mission, objectives and community policing principles.

Status:

The Office of Justice Program's Diagnostic Center will provide technical assistance to SPD to analyze its workload. The panel studying this met on June 12, 2015 and held additional meetings in July.

View the full report »

Finding 10.6

  • community
  • complete
  • in progress

Although the SPD has improved and increased its community engagement efforts, community organizations noted that they would like to receive more information from SPD about the critical use of force incidents in a more timely manner. Currently, these organizations receive information about incidents via the media.

Recommendation

The SIRR should revise its media relations protocol to ensure that the agency involved in a deadly force incident is allowed to release appropriate information after a deadly force incident. In addition, SPD should continue to utilize and improve virtual and more traditional methods to maintain communications with interested community stakeholders after a critical incident.

Status:

Former communications director Monique Cotton drafted a news release template for the SIRR team to use, along with a list of suggested releasable information. All SIRR team agencies plan to post news releases on their website. The SIRR team will update their protocol to say that a representative is allowed to give an initial statement about an incident and send out an initial news release. When possible, SPD will also reach out to a community organization whose members are affected by the incident.

View the full report »

Finding 10.7

  • community
  • in progress

SPD does not routinely survey the community to gauge changes in the community’s perceptions of the police and its relationship with the police department.

Recommendation

SPD should routinely survey the community to measure increased police-community relationships, increased understanding of police procedures, organizational changes, and to evaluate police-initiated programs, like the Police Activities League.

Status:

The Department of Justice recommended that SPD complete the community and police survey in late 2015 or early 2016. Kathy Armstrong spoke with the survey's provider in February to make arrangements. Smaller scale surveys have been administered with some community partners and neighborhood councils.

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Glossary of terms relating to SPD's use of force
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administrative
review panel
(ARP)
An ARP is conducted to review use of force incidents where supervisors are not sure if force was reasonable. They are also conducted to review misconduct complaints, and for internal review of deadly use of force (deadly force panels are called D-ARPs). ARPs are made up of a bureau commander or captain, who chairs the panel, and other captains and/or lieutenants. Each panel member reviews the report and delivers an opinion via email to the chair. The ARP may investigate an incident, require employees involved in the incident to appear for questioning, and recommend discipline.

chain of command
review
All non-deadly use of force incidents are reviewed by an officer's supervisor, who is required to complete a use of force administrative report when a level 2 lateral neck restraint is used, or when force results in unconsciousness, or apparent or claimed injury. That report is first reviewed by the shift commander or lieutenant, then by the captain and assistant chief. If any reviewer finds the use of force was not reasonable, Internal Affairs conducts its own investigation.

deadly force
The department defines deadly force as "Force reasonably anticipated to create a substantial likelihood of causing death or very serious bodily injury." All uses of deadly force are reviewed by the Spokane Investigative Regional Response team, which investigates and forwards results to the country prosecutor, who determines whether to criminally charge the officers. A separate internal review of deadly use of force also takes place.

Deadly Force
Review Board
(DFRB)
The DFRB does an internal review of all deadly use of force incidents. The purpose is to make suggestions on tactics and training, not to discipline involved officers. The board is chaired by a bureau commander and includes a command representative from each bureau, a training lieutenant, two peer officers, a Public Safety Committee member, a union member, a department expert and a non-administrative supervisor. A city council member and the police ombudsman may also attend the meetings as observers.

Early Intervention
System (EIS)
SPD began using an EIS in 2014 to identify patterns in officer behavior, including involvement in use of force incidents, internal affairs investigations of complaints, pursuits, accidents and officer-involved shootings. If an officer goes over a threshold for any of these events, the defensive tactics cadre is notified. For use of force, the notification limit is now four incidents in a year, per a DOJ recommendation. Prior to 2015, the threshold was six incidents.

lateral neck
restraint (LNR)
A lateral neck restraint involves an officer wrapping their arm around a subject's neck to control them. A level 1 restraint is intended to control a subject, while a level 2 restraint renders the subject unconscious by squeezing the carotid arteries, limiting blood flow to the brain. This is sometimes colloquially referred to as a 'sleeper hold' or 'blood hold', though police dispute these terms. A 'choke hold' occurs when air flow, not blood flow, is cut off, so a LNR is not a choke hold when done properly.

Spokane
Investigative
Regional Response
(SIRR) team
The SIRR team was created in 2009 to criminally investigate deadly force incidents. Thirteen law enforcement agencies are members, including Spokane Police Department and the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. When a deadly force incident occurs, an agency that was not involved in the incident will be designated the lead investigator. (For instance, a shooting by SPD could be investigated by the Washington State Patrol.) Once the SIRR team completes a review, it forwards its investigation on to the county prosecutor, who decides whether to criminally charge the involved officers.

use of force
The department defines force as "the application of physical techniques or tactics, chemical agents or weapons to another person. It is not a use of force when a person allows him/herself to be searched, escorted, handcuffed or restrained." Officers are required to document uses of force in a report, which is reviewed by a supervisor. Examples of use of force include pointing a gun at a subject, manual arrest or takedown techniques, Taser application and lateral neck restraints.

Use of Force
Review Board
(UOFRB)
Similar to the Deadly Force Review Board, the UOFRB does an internal review of non-deadly force incidents with the goal of making recommendations on training and tactics. The board does not review policy compliance or make disciplinary recommendations about officers involved in use of force incidents.