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Police ombudsman search thins field to 9

Fri., March 13, 2009

Times are tough out there.

One hundred and twenty-eight people applied to be Spokane’s first police ombudsman.

“We’ve got quite a lot of quality in that group, and I think we’re going to get a good ombudsman out of that,” said Spokane City Administrator Ted Danek.

Of those who applied, about 95 were deemed qualified and nine were picked by the five-member selection committee for phone interviews next week, said Spokane Human Resources Director Dave Chandler.

The city has declined to release the names of those who were picked for phone interviews. Danek said names of the applicants who make the next cut will be made public. Those candidates will be brought to Spokane for interviews.

Names of the top three will be forwarded to Mayor Mary Verner for a final pick.

The City Council approved the creation of the ombudsman last year after questions arose about police actions related to high-profile cases, including that of Otto Zehm, a mentally ill janitor who died from injuries he suffered in a police confrontation in 2006.

Danek said even with concerns about revenue, the city will move ahead with the hiring. If staff cuts are necessary, it’s possible the position could be re-evaluated, like any other.

“It’s unquestionable,” Danek said. “The ombudsman will be hired.”

Members of the selection committee are Danek, Spokane Ethics Committee Chairwoman Nancy Isslerlis, Spokane Police Guild President Ernie Wuthrich, Capt. Steve Braun of the Lieutenants & Captains Association and George Critchlow, a Gonzaga University associate law professor.

The job will pay $77,130 to $94,628 annually.

Jonathan Brunt can be reached at or (509) 459-5442.

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