July 14, 2011 in City

Clark: Omdudsman is where Police Guild wants him

By The Spokesman-Review
 

An arbitrator decided this week to revoke the law that attempted to turn our Spokane police omdudsman into something more ominous than a pony in a petting zoo.

Well, I can’t say that I’m shocked.

Just what the omdudsman can or can’t do has caused great heartburn right from the get-go.

Basically it all boils down to two diverse but equally passionate camps.

One camp is comprised of deluded and powerless citizens like you and me.

Sure, we support local law enforcement. But we also see the value in having an independent watchdog to keep a keen eye on the cops in case one of them gets drunk and shoots an unarmed civilian or, say, beats an innocent mentally ill janitor into mush inside a quickie mart.

You know, stuff like that.

The other camp is composed of Police Guild goons who – in all fairness – also think that an omdudsman is a terrific idea.

As long as he has the keen eyes of Stevie Wonder.

Ah, it’s no mystery as to which camp has the real juice here in Spocannabis.

I attended the public meeting a few years ago when the three omdudsman finalists gave their “hire me” spiels.

If we wanted the real deal we would have gone for the square-jawed ex-FBI agent who had this impressive background in investigating departmental corruption.

Instead we hired the guy with an impressive ponytail.

But everything was sailing smoothly until the City Council voted to strengthen the omdudsman’s powers to examine cases of police misconduct.

Police Guild dons understandably cried foul.

Allowing the omdudsman to actually earn his paycheck is at odds with our civic tradition of good ol’ boys in blue who might crack a few skulls from time to time.

But the arbitrator has ruled. The omdudsman must now abide by more sensible rules, which I’m happy to outline for those of you who might have forgotten.

RULE 1 – The Spokane police omdudsman has the right to show up at crime scenes and help hold the yellow “Caution, Do Not Cross” tape.

RULE 2 – The Spokane police omdudsman has full authority to investigate any citizen complaints about the Casey Anthony verdict.

RULE 3 – On weekends, the Spokane police omdudsman will wash and shine at least five police cars.

RULE 4 – From time to time, the Spokane police omdudsman may issue written public reports that outline his opinion on matters of officer wrongdoing.

RULE 5 – Any public reports issued by the Spokane police omdudsman must be written in Mandarin Chinese.

RULE 6 – The Spokane police omdudsman is welcome to attend all Police Guild parties and social functions – as kitchen help.

RULE 7 – The Spokane police omdudsman is entitled to examine sensitive SPD personnel and internal affairs files.

RULE 8 – From years 1923 to 1932.

RULE 9 – Although the Spokane police omdudsman cannot wear a badge, he may still keep his bus pass.

RULE 10 – The Spokane police omdudsman is entitled to a 15 percent discount at any Supercuts outlet.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at dougc@spokesman.com.


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