May 23, 2014 in City

Straub: Police reorganization a necessary ‘series of changes’

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Chief adds fewer departments

Last year, the City Council approved Police Chief Frank Straub’s request to create six departments within the police department, allowing the city to hire administrators to lead those departments. Straub has backed off on the number of departments and says he won’t hire assistant directors. Directors of the departments, who weren’t affected by Straub’s most recent reorganization, are:

• Operations Director: Assistant Chief Rick Dobrow, a member of the department since 1994.

• Investigations Director: Assistant Chief Selby Smith, a former Drug Enforcement Agency official.

• Strategic Initiatives Director: Tim Schwering, a former investigator for the Federal Defender’s office.

• Communications Director: Monique Cotton, former owner of DMC Communications.

Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub this month launched his second major reorganization of the police department this year and said he may not be done making changes.

“I’m not going to lock into anything,” Straub said in an interview last week. “I can’t. We have to get the right people in the right places.”

Straub, named chief in August 2012, announced the reorganization last week. It follows a reorganization earlier this year and a complete overhaul of leadership positions last year.

“As new demands come up, you look to your good people,” he said. “It’s not just one change. There has to be a series of changes to make that one change work.”

The frequent changes are concerning, said Lt. Dave McCabe, Spokane Police Lieutenants and Captains Association president.

“We would like our members to have some sense of stability,” he said.

Some of those being transferred have raised concerns, McCabe said, but he believes those issues can be worked out with Straub. He said Straub needs to be nimble enough to address issues as they come up.

“We’re 100 percent behind the chief’s vision for the department,” McCabe said.

City Councilman Steve Salvatori said experimentation sometimes is needed to get the right staff in place.

“I’m not critical at all,” Salvatori said.

Councilman Jon Snyder, who leads the city’s public safety committee, also backs the new leadership changes. “He knows his personnel,” Snyder said.

Capt. Judi Carl is leaving the downtown police precinct and will oversee training and internal affairs. She led the department’s accreditation application, which was approved this week, and will lead accreditation renewal, Straub said.

“Judi is a seasoned professional who has proven her ability to take on new projects and drive them to success,” Straub said.

Capt. Brad Arleth will take Carl’s place downtown. Straub said Arleth has the experience in investigation and patrol that the position demands and he also has worked to coordinate police coverage at large community events like Bloomsday and Hoopfest.

Downtown is the centerpiece of the department’s new efforts to reduce crime, Straub said.

Salvatori said Arleth is an excellent choice for the downtown area, where Salvatori owns three buildings. “He has a great way of communicating with people,” Salvatori said. “That’s important working downtown.”

Capt. Eric Olsen, who previously oversaw training and internal affairs, will be the captain of investigations. Olsen has experience as a patrol lieutenant and a bomb technician, Straub said.

Lt. Joe Walker was the commander of investigations prior to February, when he chose to step down to become a patrol lieutenant. He will lead the newly created Civil Enforcement Unit, which will focus on seizing property and assets used in the commission of crimes.


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