Proposition 1 would establish within the City Charter a Police Ombudsman Office with the authority to independently investigate alleged police misconduct. It also would create a Police Ombudsman Commission.
Jurisdiction: City of Spokane
Cases where people die at the hands of police officers should be examined in a public forum, Spokane Police Ombudsman Tim Burns says in his annual report. Burns made the recommendation to hold coroner’s inquests in a report that he presented to the Spokane City Council this week. Other supporters of the idea include Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich and representatives of Spokane’s Center for Justice, a public interest law firm.
Spokane voters easily approved a City Charter amendment giving the police ombudsman more authority and a tax to ensure that branch libraries won’t close.
The Spokane City Council has tried several times over the past two decades to craft a police oversight system with teeth. Now it’s the citizens’ turn.
Spokane voters will have a lot to consider on their February ballot, including a proposal to require supermajority votes by the City Council to raise taxes and some fees. Other measures headed for a special February election include: • A property tax increase for the Spokane Public Library to prevent branch closures and increase open hours. City taxes would increase by 7 cents for each $1,000 of property value – $7 for the owner of a $100,000 property.
City officials have a new strategy to achieve independent police oversight after multiple failed attempts: Let the voters decide. Spokane City Council members Steve Salvatori and Mike Allen want to ask voters in February to approve a city charter amendment creating a police ombudsman position with the ability to investigate alleged police abuse separately from the Police Department’s internal affairs division. The plan also would create a citizen board that would oversee the ombudsman.
Here’s where we stand, in terms of policing the police: One of the most hopeful signs about the latest proposal for true independent oversight is that it’s all bark and no bite. That’s right. All bark and no bite – that’s the selling point.
Advocates of greater police accountability are again pushing to give Spokane’s police ombudsman independent investigative authority. The Center for Justice presented a proposed ordinance during a news conference Thursday, noting that the time is right to push for the expanded authority because the city’s labor contract with the Spokane Police Guild has expired and a new one is being negotiated.
The bombshell caught Spokane by surprise. Mayor David Condon says he WON’T renew Tim Burns’ contract as the city’s so-called police ombudsman. The mayor is not without a heart, however.
The Spokane City Council appears ready to challenge Mayor David Condon’s decision to dismiss the city’s first police ombudsman. Tim Burns, who helped pioneer Spokane’s still-fledgling police oversight program, was informed on Monday by City Administrator Theresa Sanders that his three-year contract would not be renewed. His last day is Oct. 31, though he’ll be using up vacation for the last month.
Spokane’s first police ombudsman will soon be out of a job, and the city may be without a permanent replacement for several months. Mayor David Condon has decided not to renew Ombudsman Tim Burns’ three-year contract that expires Aug. 24, said City Administrator Theresa Sanders. He will keep his job, however, until Oct. 31.
A disagreement between the interim Spokane police chief and the ombudsman about how a police misconduct allegation should be investigated has been resolved after witnesses came forward with new information. A meeting scheduled last Friday between Interim Chief Scott Stephens, Ombudsman Tim Burns and Mayor David Condon never happened because Stephens informed Condon of his intention to investigate the accusation that police bruised a woman’s arms while handcuffing her at her home in early April.