May 1, 2010 in Washington Voices

New job, same beat

Lyons precinct commander for Spokane Valley
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Jesse Tinsley photo

jesset@spokesman.com Lt. Matt Lyons is the new precinct commander for the Spokane Valley Police Department.
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The Spokane Valley Police Precinct has a new second in command, but Lt. Matt Lyons didn’t have to go far to take his new position. He just had to switch desks.

Lyons has worked with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, which provides policing for the city of Spokane Valley through a contract, for almost 17 years. He’s been officially assigned to Spokane Valley since the city incorporated. “I’ve predominantly worked a Valley district even before they incorporated for the majority of my career,” he said.

He was promoted to lieutenant in 2003 and was the graveyard shift commander, splitting his time between Spokane Valley and unincorporated Spokane County. Prior to that he was a platoon sergeant for four years.

Lyons, 46, said he’s happy to be able to stay in the Valley. “I do like working out here,” he said. “I like the community. There’s a quicker pace to the work in Spokane Valley.”

Since he began his new position on April 1 Lyons has been taking some of the scheduling load off of Police Chief Rick Van Leuven, which was extreme. “I can’t imagine how many hours he must have worked before I came on,” he said.

Lyon’s job is to attend various meetings, manage the city’s new alarm ordinance and handle administrative items that work their way up from patrol units, such as paperwork required for use of force during an arrest.

Van Leuven requested that the Spokane Valley City Council fund a new precinct commander position because he was overwhelmed. A law enforcement study requested by the city council and completed last year also recommended that a second in command be hired. Before Lyons began work, Van Leuven said he constantly had to choose between meetings. “I’m turning down meetings constantly,” he said. “There’s just not enough of me to go around. Now we can split off those duties. You just need someone to help out at the precinct. There’s more than enough work for us.”

Van Leuven said he still works between 55 and 60 hours a week in addition to taking work home. But now he’s relieved that he has help in running his large urban department of 103. “I can delegate,” he said. “It’s going to be very beneficial to us.”

Lyons studied electronics at SCC and Eastern Washington University and worked for an electronics company for several years before he tired of doing the same work day after day. “It just didn’t seem to matter,” he said. “I wanted to do something with a little more meaning and a little more fun.”

He had a brother-in-law who was a sheriff’s deputy and got hired on. But that education in electronics has not been wasted. Lyons is the co-commander of the regional bomb squad and teaches his team what he knows. “There’s a lot of electronics in the IED (improvised explosive device) world,” he said. “It actually has come in handy.”

During his first month on the job Lyons has been so busy that he hasn’t had time to hang any pictures in his new office, but he is enjoying the work. “I think it’s going good,” he said. “I like the change. I’m learning new stuff every day and I like that.”

One thing he hasn’t had to deal with is the usual time a new boss spends getting to know the employees. Since he’s worked in the Valley for so long, he already knows everyone. “They all know me, tool. They know what to expect.”

The only struggle he has is listening to the radio and still feeling the urge to respond and help out. “I want to go be a part of that,” he said. “I can’t do that anymore.”

While he works long hours, Lyons is excited about taking on a newly-created position and molding it to be what he envisions. “Isn’t that awesome? Within certain boundaries, I can make it what I want.”


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