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In brief: Former interim chief on administrative leave

Spokane’s former interim police chief Capt. Scott Stephens is on indefinite administrative leave.

Chief Frank Straub placed him on leave Dec. 20, the day before Straub announced Stephens would head the department’s efforts to earn state accreditation, police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe confirmed Friday night.

DeRuwe said he was on leave due to an internal issue, not a criminal one, but declined to go into further detail.

“We need to afford him the opportunity to let the matter run its course,” she said.

It is unknown how long he will be on leave, she said.

As part of a planned departmentwide reorganization, Straub announced Dec. 21 that Stephens would be demoted to captain from assistant chief and would be in charge of seeking state accreditation.

Stephens, who has been with the Spokane Police Department since 1984, was a major before Mayor David Condon named him interim chief in January 2012 following the departure of former Chief Anne Kirkpatrick. Straub appointed Stephens assistant chief when he became chief in October.

Slight warm-up, touch of snow forecast today

Most of the Inland Northwest is likely to see some snow tonight into Sunday, but accumulations should be less than an inch, National Weather Service forecasters said.

The greatest chance of snow is from 10 p.m. tonight until about 10 a.m. Sunday.

Temperatures should warm by several degrees, with highs of 33 today and 34 on Sunday.

Tonight’s snowfall will likely be followed by more snow as early as Monday morning. One to 2 inches of snow are expected through the day Monday.

The second storm will have enough warm air wrapped into it to bring a chance of rain to lower elevations as early as Monday night.

A high of 41 on Tuesday will lead to rain in lower elevations as the storm continues into Tuesday night, forecasters said. A cold front Wednesday will cause snow levels and temperatures to drop again.

Leg work, new paint among Carrousel repairs

As the seasons go round and round, the painted ponies are getting a break from going up and down.

Riverfront Park’s Looff Carrousel is closed for maintenance until the end of February.

Riverfront Park assistant manager Debby Dodson said the Carrousel closes every year at this time for annual repairs.

“What we do depends on the need of the Carrousel,” Dodson said.

This year’s repairs will include mending one horse’s broken leg, sanding and painting the horses and new coats of paint on the floor and benches.

Dodson said this year’s maintenance will cost about $5,000.

The Carrousel, built in 1909, is one of only 45 operating antique carousels in the nation and averages more than 200,000 riders every year.

Other activities in Riverfront Park will remain on schedule.

Holiday DUI patrols result in 219 arrests

A holiday season crackdown on drunken driving led to 219 arrests across Spokane, Pend Oreille and Ferry counties.

That’s up from 197 arrests during the same period a year earlier, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. The increase is attributed to the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement effort from Nov. 21 to Jan. 1 targeting drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Statewide, 3,446 motorists were arrested during the crackdown.

Participating in the Eastern Washington crackdown were the following law enforcement agencies: Cheney, Airway Heights, Eastern Washington University, Republic, Spokane and Spokane Valley police departments; the Spokane, Pend Oreille and Ferry County sheriff’s offices; and the Washington State Patrol, with the support of the Spokane County Target Zero Task Force.

The extra patrols were funded by a grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.


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Then and Now: Comstock Park

James M. Comstock, born in 1838 in Wisconsin, arrived in Spokane in time to witness the great fire of 1889 and start Spokane Dry Goods with Robert Paterson. It became the Crescent, Spokane’s premier department store for a century. He also worked in real estate and owned other businesses. He served a term as Spokane mayor, starting in 1899. James Comstock died in 1918.