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From the Spokane police chief

Interim Spokane police Chief Scott Stephens weighs in on some issues facing the department:

On the city’s request for the Department of Justice to investigate Spokane Police Department practices:

“It might provide some comfort for the citizens of this city to have this department’s practices and patterns viewed by an outside body who can put perspective in it to say, based on what we see nationwide and looking at current trends in policing, either we’re doing everything the way we’re supposed to be doing or we need to change a couple of things.”

On how the force feels about a proposal to wear body cameras to record their interactions with the public:

“In principle they think they are a very good idea. (Officers are) very welcoming of them but also want to know how will you precisely implement this program. They just want to make sure that however we choose to implement is basically fair and balanced toward them.”

On a proposal to give the police ombudsman the power to investigate allegations of misconduct separately from the department’s Internal Affairs division (the city was forced to repeal such investigatory power last year after the law was successfully challenged by the Spokane Police Guild):

“I believe the officers actually developed kind of a favorable opinion of that (the stronger police ombudsman ordinance that was repealed). The guild of course is taking a look at this and just saying, ‘We don’t have objections to that in principle. Again we just want to make sure that if you’re going to do this we want to be at the table.’ They felt like things were being done to them without their input and I think that’s why they threw the roadblock up there.”

On a proposal to allow the police chief to consider ombudsman investigations when considering officer discipline:

“The chief needs to be the one that has the final discipline authority, but I have no objection to looking at whatever information the ombudsman would provide and considering that in the overall picture of the discipline.”

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