July 17, 1997 in Washington Voices

Nevawood Cops Hopes To Move Soon

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Volunteers of the Nevada-Lidgerwood COPS station hope to move into their permanent home on Sept. 6.

If all goes as planned, it will mark the end of four years of temporary housing for the police substation.

“We’ve been ready for a home for a long time,” said president Shirley Henry.

For now, the NevaWood station is housed on the main floor of NorthTown Mall between The Barking Frog and Baskin-Robbins.

Volunteers moved there in October after their temporary lease at Franklin Park Mall expired. NevaWood was in that mall from July until August of 1996.

The new volunteer station will set up shop in a 5,200-square-foot building at the intersection of Addison and Wellesley.

Despite temporary housing and controversy last fall, Henry said volunteer spirit never waned. “We just recorded 1,072 volunteer hours for last month.”

Henry said it is hoped a NevaWood block party on Aug. 9 from 3 to 8 p.m. will get more people enthusiastic about neighborhood volunteering. The party will be at Lidgerwood Evangelical Church, 228 E. Gordon.

Nevawood’s 45 active volunteers have been eagerly awaiting a permanent home for some time. They’re also looking for a renewed sense of stability.

Last September, longtime president Deborah Wittwer was forced to resign for allegedly making statements that cast doubt on community policing efforts. Police also said she mismanaged important paperwork.

Dennis Kuhl replaced Wittwer in October as temporary president until he unexpectedly resigned in the middle of a meeting the same month he was appointed.

What ensued was an arm-wrestling match between NevaWood volunteers and the Spokane Police Department over control of the substation.

Spokane Police Chief Terry Mangan described the entire situation as a “misunderstanding.”

“Like many of our neighborhood cop shops, NevaWood went through developing stages and growing pains that any volunteer organization goes through,” Mangan said.

“What some volunteers didn’t understand was that a substation is an extension of the Public Safety Building,” he said. “We are responsible by law for it. Substation volunteers are volunteers for the police department.

“They are subject to the same rules and regulations of the police department,” Mangan said. “This is a great group of volunteers, but we must be responsible for them.”

After an outcry from COPS volunteers, Wittwer was reinstated as a volunteer by Mangan two months after she was removed.

Today, Mangan said NevaWood volunteers and the police department understand each other.

“This is a viable neighborhood cops organization,” Mangan said. “The new substation will be unique in itself because it is a result of community development funds.”

The new substation building is city property but will be leased by the police force for substation use.

The brutal winter delayed its opening by seven months.

“We want to see something happening in there every day,” Henry said. “It’s a neighborhood place, a place the neighborhood can use for things it wants to do.”

, DataTimes

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