March 16, 2013 in Letters, Opinion

Police reform encouraging


Kudos to The Spokesman-Review’s thoughtful March 7 editorial, “City leaders on right path to improve police culture,” describing a panel tasked with gathering public input and making recommendations to the Use of Force Commission to improve public trust in the Spokane Police Department. Noteworthy in good-news/bad-news ways:

Good: Commission acceptance of the panel’s recommendation to assess progress made in six months, one year and two years, leading this reader to believe this is no one-time shout-and-out deal with low expectations of real change.

Bad: Disclosure that from 2007-11, 492 incidences of officer-reported force reviewed internally by the SPD resulted in zero cases where excessive force was ruled to have been used, and that the department’s definition of excessive force would have allowed it to sign off on the Otto Zehm incident as well.

Good: Solid panel recommendations for future procedural changes.

Really good: A police chief who acknowledges that a problem exists and who is hitting all the right notes, particularly when he is humble enough to say his department’s goal is to earn back public trust a day at a time.

David Fietz

Springdale, Wash.

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