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Chief: COPS shops could be City Hall outposts

The 27 Spokane neighborhood councils each send a representative to the monthly meeting of the Community Assembly on the first Friday of every month at City Hall.

The tightly structured meeting moves through a large agenda between 4 and 6 p.m.

This is where neighborhood councils share updates on projects, and have a chance to ask questions of city staff as well as receive updates from the City Council.

On Friday Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub stopped by with an update from the Spokane Police Department. Straub said he would like to get officers out of their cars and more involved with the community, for instance on foot patrols.

Straub revisited the idea that neighborhood Community Oriented Policing Services shops could become outposts for City Hall.

“I would like to have COPS volunteers be able to help citizens with some city issues,” Straub said. “That would also add more life and energy to the COPS shops.”

This idea has caused some concern among COPS volunteers who fear they won’t be able to keep up if more tasks are added to their volunteer schedules.

Straub clarified that city staff would be doing city jobs, they’d just be doing it at the COPS shops rather than at City Hall, and he explained that this decentralized model worked well in his former jurisdiction in Indianapolis.

COPS used to report to the SPD but was recently moved under the umbrella of the Office of Community and Neighborhood Services, and it’s currently negotiating with the city to clarify any changes in its role.

Jonathan Mallahan, director of Community and Neighborhood Services, reminded everyone that the deadline for applications for traffic calming funding is March 1.

“The city wants the applications earlier this year so they have more time to look through them over summer,” Mallahan said, when he was asked why the deadline was earlier than last year.

He also announced that the city is looking for volunteers for a downtown cleanup day on April 20.

“It’s called Cleaning from the Core, and it’s about cleaning up our downtown area before the big summer festivals,” Mallahan said.