Despite being “greatly understaffed” because of a serial killer investigation, Spokane authorities have not asked the Washington State Patrol to provide detectives to help in the case.
State Patrol officials said this week they would do everything possible to help the investigation if a request comes.
The WSP has four detectives assigned to its Spokane office and several dozen statewide, said State Patrol Sgt. Chris Powell.
WSP detectives have been assigned to various task forces across the state in the past, including the group that investigated the unsolved Green River killings of Western Washington.
Locally, State Patrol agents have been assigned to task forces that have broken up methamphetamine and cocaine rings.
WSP Capt. Mike Dubee, who commands the Spokane detachment, said he wasn’t sure how many detectives, if any, he could free up for the serial killer case.
“But we would always go the extra mile for them, realizing that there are limitations,” said Dubee, who has made that known at meetings of the serial killer task force. “It would be easier for us to satisfy a short-term requirement rather than a longer-term one.”
Spokane authorities have discussed requesting WSP detectives for the serial killer task force but decided against it for now, said police Capt. Chuck Bown, a task force commander.
The task force doesn’t have enough clerks and secretaries to support more detectives, and many State Patrol investigators lack experience in homicide cases, Bown said.
“You can only supervise so many people and so much data,” he said. “And (a murder investigation) really isn’t their primary charter. As you well know, a cop is not a cop is not a cop.”
Besides, Bown said, the State Patrol is giving help through its crime lab, which is used by local jurisdictions in all murder cases statewide.
The serial killer task force was created in December to investigate the unsolved murders of 20 women: 19 in Spokane and one in Tacoma. Detectives believe at least six of the murders were committed by the same person.
The task force is made up of detectives from the police and sheriff’s departments. Two detectives from each agency are assigned to the group full time, and they are getting help from other investigators within their agencies.
Earlier this week, Police Chief Terry Mangan and Sheriff John Goldman asked for money to hire more detectives to fill in for those assigned to the serial killer investigation.
“We are greatly understaffed,” Mangan told City Council members last week. “We absolutely have to support this task force operation, even at the expense of the other things that we do.”
The council voted Monday to add two new detectives and an additional sergeant to the department at the cost of $156,000 per year.
Goldman made a similar plea to county commissioners Tuesday, requesting three additional detectives and a sergeant “to have a chance to be effective in this case.”
The board gave preliminary approval to the $300,000 per year request, but Commissioner Kate McCaslin said Friday she didn’t know the State Patrol might be able to provide task force help.
“I do find that interesting,” McCaslin said. “That could help us out. I will raise more questions before we vote on the final resolution Tuesday.”
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: MORE OFFICERS Police Chief Terry Mangan and Sheriff John Goldman have asked for money to hire detectives to fill in for those assigned to the investigation. The City Council voted to add two detectives and a sergeant, and county commissioners have given preliminary approval to Goldman’s request.