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Speakers favor Florida candidate for Spokane police ombudsman

From left, Allen Huggins, Raheel Humayun and Robert Breeden take a break from a community forum for the police ombudsman candidates Thursday at the East Central Community Center. (Dan Pelle)
From left, Allen Huggins, Raheel Humayun and Robert Breeden take a break from a community forum for the police ombudsman candidates Thursday at the East Central Community Center. (Dan Pelle)

Spokane residents expressed strong support for hiring Robert Breeden as Spokane’s new police ombudsman at a public forum Tuesday, but some speakers said they’d prefer the city continue the search process rather than picking one of the three finalists.

Breeden is a lifelong police officer who was most recently the second-in-command for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Miami office.

He left that job earlier this year after a personnel investigation found he’d engaged in unprofessional conduct. He said the investigation was part of a smear campaign by his former boss, Addy Villanueva, and has filed a whistleblower lawsuit alleging she retaliated against him after he blew the whistle on her frequent absences from work.

“Bob was the only one that cared enough to do research into our community. The other candidates spoke in generalities,” said Alfredo LLamedo. Others said they were impressed he took the time to attend a police advisory committee meeting, bring his husband to Spokane and speak with a pastor about the community.

All speakers said Allen Huggins, a retired officer from Orange County living in Coeur d’Alene, should be disqualified based on his comments on various Wall Street Journal articles about protests in Baltimore and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Several speakers said the final candidate, Raheel Humayun, an investigator with the British Columbia Office of the Ombudsperson, would be acceptable, but many expressed concerns about his ability to secure a work visa and quickly get up to speed with the American legal system.

Others said the ombudsman commission should go back to the drawing board and get new candidates from the city’s selection committee.

“People are in a big hurry to fill this job but that’s a mistake,” said David Brookbank.

Commissioners said that wasn’t likely, but would not comment on which candidate they favor. The ombudsman commission will meet at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 9 at to pick a new ombudsman.


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