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Wed., Aug. 29, 2012

Police oversight must continue

I’m struck by this statement in the Aug. 19 editorial addressing oversight of the Spokane Police Department: “What’s more, the city will have to bargain with the Police Guild before changing the oversight model.”

Six months after Otto Zehm’s murder, Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson Jr. still avoids incarceration for use of excessive force and lying to investigators, with other involved officers getting a free pass. The Spokesman-Review has published numerous articles involving trigger-happy officers and resulting tragedies, and others describing the political cha-cha the city must dance whenever independent review of police activities is requested (and denied). The notion that Spokane police officers are city employees and their actions are thereby subject to review by the city has eroded, until its finest feel no need to answer to anyone but themselves. The June 6 article “Police testing body cameras,” wherein such camera use is apparently viewed as a “key bargaining chip in their latest contract negotiations” by the Spokane Police Guild, is an instructive example of how a common-sense practice becomes negotiable.

Wake up, Spokanites, before you find yourself behind the eight-ball with an unduly accommodated cowboy who fervently believes (“Because my union told me so!”) that anything goes.

David Fietz

Springdale, Wash.

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