For 30 years, citizens of Spokane have pushed for the adoption of credible, independent police oversight without success. In December, a unanimous City Council took bold steps to get us there by moving to send Proposition 1 to the voters. By amending our city’s foundational document, the charter, Prop. 1 guarantees that our community will have independent police oversight no matter who sits on the council, is in the mayor’s office, or leads our Police Department.
Independent oversight has many benefits, such as increasing public understanding of police policies and providing a mechanism to recommend improvements. Moreover, the results of an investigation are viewed as effective and fair, if conducted independently. Officers also benefit from independent investigations because of the increased trust that builds from the public. This can improve the effectiveness and safety of our officers.
The tragic death of Otto Zehm has shaken public confidence in our police. They have a hard job and deserve our respect, appreciation and confidence. The leadership of our new chief, the recommendations of the Use of Force Commission and the resolution of the Zehm case have done much to rebuild this confidence.
Passing Prop. 1 will get us even further.