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UPDATE: County officials say the Regional Drug Task Force is "fully funded" through 2015, and any budgetary issues would not rear their heads until next year.
"The County’s portion of the Drug Task Force is fully funded for 2015. In very general terms it is supported 25% General Fund and 75% seizure/grant money," wrote Marshall Farnell in an email to county commissioners today.
Farnell added that there are "no plans" to disband the task force this year.
Original story follows:
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich put pressure on county leaders yesterday to fund the Spokane Regional Drug Task Force, a multi-agency unit responsible for several recent narcotics busts in the area.
At a news conference, Knezovich said the task force faces possible disbanding by June if $250,000 isn't added to its budget. Knezovich made a similar pitch to county commissioners in November, which was met with some uneasiness. Several area TV news stations ran stories last night as a result of the news conference, including KREM, KXLY and KHQ.
The backdrop of Knezovich's call for more money from county commissioners, who are wary to add money to the Sheriff's Office budget until binding arbitration is completed over back pay for deputies dating back three years, is a call by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to drastically scale back a federal money-sharing program that distributed cash taken from suspected criminals.
The Washington Post launched a six-part investigative series late last year that questioned the methods employed by local law enforcement used in asset seizure. The fourth part of that series dealt specifically with the Equitable Sharing program, the technique targeted by Holder and responsible for much of the Spokane Regional Drug Task Force's bottom line over the past several years.
The Post also published its reports from various law enforcement agencies, listing the amount of federal money they received form the program and what that money was spent on, obtained through a public records request. According to those reports, the drug task force received $807,506.31 between 2008 and 2013 for its operations from the Equitable Sharing program.
The reports also show the task force's expenses have grown considerably in the past several years. The group spent more than $30,000 on buy money for confidential informants in 2013, the same year the task force assisted in the break-up of a major OxyContin ring running out of California.
It remains to be seen whether the county or some other agency will pony up the cash necessary to keep the task force afloat. Knezovich has proposed a 0.2 percent sales tax increase in the county that he says would add $9 million to the kitty, enough to fund the task force and hire enough deputies to make up for belt-tightening that began in earnest in 2008.
Michael Poulin, left, and Jeffrey Brandt, right, hold signs along Sprague Avenue during a protest Saturday by self-labeled constitutionalists in the parking lot of the Spokane Valley Police Precinct. Jesse Tinsley, SR photo
Election Day is Tuesday, and if you still haven't decided which candidate for Spokane County prosecutor or sheriff you're supporting, these televised debates that aired last night on KSPS-TV may help you decide.
Check out the videos after the jump.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich released an internal memo this week reiterating that employees who violate office policies forbidding sex while on duty and falsifying official reports may be fired.
Knezovich wrote that “sex on duty is a breach of not only the public trust but also it is a breach of our code of ethics, core values, officer safety, etc.” in the memo released to media outlets Wednesday. He also said providing false reports of any kind “will not be tolerated.”
The memo was prompted by a state arbitrator’s decision to reinstate Deputy Scott Kenoyer last month. Kenoyer admitted in August 2013 to having sex with a woman while on duty, and Knezovich also determined that Kenoyer lied about his actions to dispatchers.
Knezovich fired Kenoyer after an investigation, which the deputy appealed. A state arbitrator from the Public Employment Relations Commission, Starr Knutson, reinstated Kenoyer last month on a probationary basis following a grievance hearing.
Knezovich says in the memo he does not want that decision to “be seen as precedent setting.”
“I know and understand that the vast majority of you do not think this type of conduct should be tolerated at our agency,” Knezovich wrote in the memo, which can be read in its entirety here.
There. Hopefully no deputies will say, "I didn't get the memo!" Seriously, you would think people would know better, wouldn't you?
Sure, I knew the deputy sheriffs union had it in for Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. The sheriff believes anyone worthy of wearing a badge should be able to hold off from doing the dance with no pants until after the shift ends. While the union’s attitude is more like … “Don’t come a-knockin’ if the squad car’s a-rockin’.” Differences this vast are bound to cause, um, friction. Sarcasm aside, never in my wildest imaginings did I think these union reptiles would crawl so low as to try to use the sheriff’s choice of churches against him. But read it and weep, my friends. The ugly truth is found on page 3 of an unfair labor practice complaint that the Spokane County Deputy Sheriffs Association filed recently against Knezovich. The action comes in response to the sheriff’s firing of Scott Kenoyer last summer for having sex on duty/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: I totally agree that an individual office holder's faith — and family, for that matter — are out of bounds? What say you?
Last week’s off-year election isn’t even certified yet, and now 2014 already is heating up.
Spokane police Detective Doug Orr is gearing up for a run against Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.
Orr, who also serves as an adjunct criminal justice professor at Gonzaga University, has filed paperwork with the state Public Disclosure Commission declaring his intent to run for sheriff next year, which enables him to begin seeking campaign contributions.Knezovich also has filed paperwork with the PDC indicating he’ll seek another term, and he’s already raised nearly $35,000 for the campaign.
He was first appointed to the post by Spokane County commissioners in 2006 when former Sheriff Mark Sterk stepped down. Knezovich was elected to his first full term later that year following a bruising GOP primary clash with Sterk’s preferred successor, former Spokane Valley Police Chief Cal Walker. Knezovich was unopposed when he sought re-election in 2010.
A Spokane County sheriff’s deputy caught having sex on duty is now out of a job.
Deputy Scott Kenoyer was fired Thursday by Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich after an internal investigation revealed Kenoyer had sex, while on duty, with the same woman linked to a Spokane police officer who resigned in June.
The Sheriff’s Office discovered evidence of a relationship between Kenoyer and the woman while investigating the case involving Spokane police Officer Jeff Graves, according to a news release. The woman alleged Graves was stalking and harassing her after they met on Facebook and had sex. Graves was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing but resigned his position.
When investigators approached Kenoyer, he admitted to having sex with the woman, according to the release.
“He was honest, he was straightforward,” Knezovich said. “This was sex on duty, and you just don’t do that.” Read more. Kaitlin Gillespie, SR
Leslie Brockman, a crime analyst with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office, says she and her coworkers have been pulled into a political spat by members of a political action committee critical of Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Knezovich appeared on several area television newscasts blasting as politically motivated efforts of Integrity First, a group made up of former sheriff's department employees, to obtain public records related to residential burglaries occurring in rural Spokane County during the first half of 2012.
Brockman said Thursday the requests imply that crime analysts somehow cooked the books, a charge she called "insulting."
"They're insulting the whole department," Brockman said.
To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.
A chosen tactic of outgoing leaders in the Spokane Police Department: talk highly about the sheriff’s plan for regionalizing police forces.
Documents recently released from last December’s investigation into reports that former Assistant Police Chief Scott Stephens had threatened to go “postal” after hearing of his impending demotion contain a line from a “confidante and friend” of Stephens describing the tactic.
In her account of Stephens’ behavior the day he’s alleged to have made the threats, Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said Stephens told her he “wanted to talk to Sheriff Knezovich about becoming his undersheriff. [Stephens] said he would push the sheriff for a regional agency and be a part of that team. (This was very similar to previous Chief Kirkpatrick’s ‘threats’ when she was leaving her position a year ago.)”
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, however, said it's news to him.
“I never had those conversations,” Knezovich said Thursday. “I feel honored that they felt that way, that they wouldn’t mind working for me. But I didn’t talk to them.”
For her part, former Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said in an email Thursday that as the department continued to lose credibility with the public over various misbehavior, she told officers that “if they did not start taking control of themselves … then a good argument could be made for the Sheriff's Office to take over the police department and become a regionalized force under the Sheriff and I would advocate for it.”
Kirkpatrick, now working as the chief deputy sheriff in King County, said she assumed this potential advocacy for regionalization “is the ‘threat’ Officer DeRuwe is referencing.”
Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Mike Padden talk before the autopsy bill is signed.
OLYMPIA – Spokane County’s medical examiners should feel free to talk about the results of investigations into deaths that involve actions by law enforcement officers. Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill Monday allowing county medical examiners and coroners to discuss the results of autopsies and post mortems of people who die in encounters with police or while in jail.
To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.
A confidential informant led Spokane County Sheriff’s Office detectives to a married couple dealing meth out of a Spokane apartment, according to criminal complaint filed in United States District Court Tuesday.
Spokane County Sheriff’s detectives arrested Mark W. Bush (pictured left) and Crystal K. Peterson on the morning of April 4 after serving a search warrant to their apartment at 1717 E. Mallon Avenue.
Court documents describe the informant as a felon with several convictions including theft, burglary, and lying to authorities. The informant was compensated financially for the information leading to the arrest of Bush and Peterson, documents show.
The informant bought meth from Bush three times during the investigation, they told detectives, but Peterson was only present during a deal on one occasion.
Investigators seized 11 ounces of meth from the home during the search including four small bags inside a box of Nilla Wafers. Additional bags of meth were found in the bedroom in a black bag, a dresser drawer and in the kitchen freezer.
Investigators also found a purse under a mattress in the master bedroom with a cell phone and a spiral notebook with a variety of names and phone numbers.
Although the Drug Enforcement Administration was not present at the time of the search warrant last week, a special agent is filing the complaint against Bush and Peterson after Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich pushed for federal charges to give him a longer prison sentence if convicted.
Knezovich compared Bush’s criminal record to convict Eddie Ray Hall who was sentenced to a 16 years in a federal prison last year. Bush is in custody at Spokane County Jail for his 39th arrest in Washington state.
Pursuing federal charges against a repeat offender is a common tactic, Knezovich said, because it can give them a longer prison sentence and keep them off the streets.
Knezovich described this drug ring as localized and the meth was most likely not produced in Spokane.
Related content: Sheriff exasperated with repeat offender
OLYMPIA — Medical examiners would have permission to discuss their conclusions from the autopsies for people killed during law enforcement actions under a bill that passed the Senate unanimously Friday.
The proposal, prompted by several high-profile cases in the Spokane area with fatalities involving local law enforcement, gives a medical examiner or coroner permission to talk about the results of their investigations, said Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, the bill's sponsor. Confidentiality restrictions would also be lifted when a person dies in law enforcement custody.
The formal autopsy report, which can include graphic photographs of the victim, would remain confidential.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich had pushed for the bill after complaining that he was unable to clear up "misinformation and myths" about some controversial cases. One such case involved the Sept. 5 death of Edward Gover, who returned to the home of a woman he'd held hostage and encountered deputies who thought he had a weapon. They said they fired when he charged them, but no weapon was found and two of the bullets struck Gover in the back.
Knezovich said the deputies responded appropriately, but he couldn't discuss the autopsy findings because of orders from the county medical examiner's office.
The organization representing lthe state's county officials dropped its objection to the proposal after it was amended to ensure confidentiality of the formal report, Padden said. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich asked the Legislature last month to change the laws to make it harder for cops who get fired for breaking the law to be reinstated by an arbitrator.
Police organizations argued that the current systyem works just fined.
A Senate committee listened, but didn't do anything, and the bill died.
Today Knezovich made his case on a national stage, as CBS Morning News looked at cases of arbitrators ordering cops back to work after egregious activity. Interesting to note that Knezovich is the sheriff who gets the most air time, but the videos of bad cops all come from elsewhere.
OLYMPIA – The fight over who decides what can get a police officer fired prompted a legislative hearing that pit beat cops against their chiefs and prompted Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich to say a state senator was attacking his character.
“It was very insulting,” Knezovich said of questions from Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, about whether he’d ever used publicly funded fuel for his personal use, an allegation he denied.
Roach said she was just asking a question someone else had suggested and if he thought she was challenging his integrity, “he doth protest too loudly.”
The exchange came in a hearing over Senate Bill 5668. . .
To read the rest of this item, or to comment, go inside the blog.
OLYMPIA – Medical examiners would be able to discuss the results of autopsies in case involving police shootings, giving them a chance to clear up what Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich refers to as “misinformation and myths” in some controversial cases, under a bill being considered by the Senate.
The proposal, sponsored by Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, is designed to lift some confidentiality restrictions on autopsy reports when a death occurs in the custody of a law enforcement officer or during police contact.
Confidentiality restrictions, which under state law cover most autopsy and post-mortem investigation reports, also would be lifted for deaths that occur in a prison or jail.
If the proposed law were in effect, Knezovich said he’d be able to explain details of cases like the Sept. 5 death of Edward Gover . . .
To read the rest of this item, or to comment, go inside the blog.
Special Olympics Washington honored Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich for his support of the program.
Knezovich received the 2012 Special Olympics Washington Law Enforcement Torch Run Campaign, Sheriff of the Year Award. Special Olympics Washington gives the award to one Washington sheriff and police chief each year.
Sheriff Knezovich was awarded, in part, for serving with the Law Enforcement Torch Run Campaign for more than eight years. He also participates in Special Olympics Washington events such as Tip a Cop, the Polar Bear Plunge, Cops on Roof Top and the Plane Pull.
“It’s a privilege to be involved with Special Olympics Washington and have the opportunity to meet and support such great athletes,” Knezovich in a Wednesday news release from the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.
Knezovich has “remained supportive of the movement and most specifically the campaign,” said Tukwila Police Officer Ted Rutt, who presented Knezovich with the award.
”He has lead by example though his active involvement in every Special Olympics related event community wide and has continued to make a difference in lending any assistance available to him,” Rutt said.
The chairman of the Spokane County Republican Party is standing behind state Rep. Matt Shea’s decision to post a picture of himself standing on his election opponent’s property on Facebook.
But Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, a Republican, says he wishes Shea would have pulled the picture at Biviano’s request.
Shea, a Republican from Spokane Valley, posted a picture of himself standing in front of the home of Democrat Amy Biviano on Aug. 4. Along with the picture of himself in her driveway, he wrote that he was doorbelling in the area and wanted to welcome the precinct to his district. The neighborhood was placed into the 4th Legislative District as part of the state’s redistricting in response to the 2010 Census.
Two men arrested after a SWAT team standoff in Otis Orchards Wednesday have been identified as Michael Francis Hicks, 55, and David Ray Galland, 58.
A sheriff's detective was driving east on Interstate 90 near Sullivan Road when he saw a red truck in front of him with what appeared to be an invalid or modified license plate. The detective advised dispatchers, who confirmed there was no record of the plate.
A sheriff's deputy and a Liberty Lake police officer, both in uniforms and riving marked patrol cars, responded to assist the detective in stopping the vehicle. They followed it northbound on Harvard Road in Liberty Lake, then eastbound to the 25600 block of East Kildea Road in Otis Orchards where they attempted to stop the vehicle.
The truck pulled into a circular driveway "in an attempt to return westbound on Kildea Road," according to a news release, but the patrol cars blocked it. Hicks, the driver, and Galland refused to exit the vehicle. The deputy, detective and officer didn't approach the truck because of its sovereign license plate and the occupant's refusal to cooperate. The SWAT team was called because law enforcement believed "there was a high probability the occupants may be armed," according to a news release.
The men's truck had stickers and signs indicating they were part of a growing “sovereign” movement that questions government authority
Hicks and Galland were eventually cut from their seat belts and taken into custody, ending the three-hour standoff. Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich joined SWAT team negotiators because self-proclaimed sovereigns typically recognize the sheriff as the highest law enforcement authority, he said.
“They were, thank goodness, nonviolent and it ended very well,” Knezovich said.
Neither man spoke with police. They were booked into jail for obstructing a public servant and refusal to cooperate. Hicks also is charged with third-degree driving while license suspended.
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. SR file photo.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich will host a town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. today at the McIntosh Grange in Rockford. The meeting is open to anyone living in Spokane County and people are encouraged to come and ask questions about law enforcement. The grange is located at First and Lake. To get there head south from Spokane Valley on Highway 27. Once you reach Rockford, take a left on Emma, then a right on First St.
I’m hotter than a car hood baking under a July sun over the rehiring of Travis Smith, that disgrace of a deputy who was rightly canned last year by Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. Smith racked up three internal investigations in one year, which could be some sort of record. His many infractions, including the mishandling of seized painkillers, established what Knezovich dubbed a poor performance pattern. No, duh. But the real nugget came when Smith committed malicious mischief by stabbing the seat of a truck he was searching like Brutus skewering Caesar. Claimed he thought it was funny. Et, tu, Travis? The bottom line is that Ozzie did the right thing for humankind by firing this clown. But apparently we have gone through the looking glass/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: Which is harder to do — can a cop in Spokane County or properly discipline a Republican lawmaker behaving badly in the Idaho Legislature?
A Spokane County sheriff’s deputy who was fired after he damaged a suspect’s car and mishandled drugs from a crime scene has been rehired following a state arbitrator’s ruling.
Deputy Travis Smith was terminated last January for what Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich called a “pattern” of poor work performance, but he was rehired after the arbitrator found that while there was just cause for disciplining him, he should keep his job.
Spokane County's three Republican county commissioners are asking Mayor-elect David Condon to strongly consider Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich's offer to be the city's interim police chief.
The three signed a letter to Condon's transition team saying that with Chief Anne Kirkpatrick retiring, it makes sense to consider consolidating the Spokane Police Department with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. If Knezovich is selected as interim chief, it would allow the concept to be studied, they said.
The search to replace Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick hasn’t even begun, but there’s already a high-profile candidate: Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.
Knezovich confirmed Thursday that he’s willing to serve as the city’s interim chief, an administrative role he believes he could fill while continuing to run the sheriff’s office.
“It wouldn’t be any different than leading a bigger force,” Knezovich said.
The deputy who shot a 74-year-old Spokane Valley pastor will face no disciplinary action over the fatal encounter. Deputy Brian Hirzel (of Hayden) properly followed all departmental policies and procedures during the fatal Aug. 25 encounter with Wayne Scott Creach, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said today in announcing the results of his internal investigation. He met with members of the Creach family earlier in the day to advise them of the findings as well. The decision disappointed the Creach family. In an e-mail prior to his briefing with the sheriff, Alan Creach — the pastor’s son — again called for the sheriff to stop using unmarked cars on private property, a point of contention that family members believe contributed to the fatal encounter/Thomas Clouse, SR. More here.
Question: Are you surprised by the decision?
Deputies were prepared for the worst as they stood by in a Spokane County courtroom earlier this month during routine hearings for mostly low-level felonies.
Their focus was on one of the more benign cases – possession and distribution of marijuana.
But it wasn’t the nature of the allegations that got their attention. It was the defendant, a self-proclaimed “sovereign” who doesn’t consider himself a citizen of the United States even though he was born and raised here.
Adrian B. Shannon, 30, is among a growing number of people who question the legitimacy of federal, state and local government agencies and employ a series of legal maneuvers they believe exempt them from driver’s licenses and birth certificates, paying taxes, or even criminal charges.
“People call it a movement, but it’s individuals, literally sovereigns, that are all learning, ‘Hey we don’t have to put up with these ridiculous laws, because we are the government,’ ” Shannon said.
"I'm 4," says Aidan Cameron to Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick at the YWCA Thursday. Kirkpatrick, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich and County Prosecutor Steve Tucker read to children at the YWCA to support continued federal and state funding for early childhood programs.
Education experts describe children as sponges of learning, soaking up language and information from those around them.
"They, like adults, learn languages best in an environment where learning enhances their self-esteem and reinforces their sense of who they are and who they are becoming," according to the International Children's Education.
A revelation Thursday by largely inaccessible Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker could serve as Exhibit A in that theory.
Tucker, who joined Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick and Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich to support early childhood learning programs at the YMCA, shared a humorous vignette about his 3-year-old grandson's impressive vocabulary, including the toddler's unprompted uttering of this all-too-familiar phrase: "I am not availabe to answer that question at this time."
For police agencies, cameras that record officer encounters with the public can help prove suspects are guilty and set the record straight if officers are wrongly accused of misconduct.
“It tells you the facts,” Post Falls police Capt. Pat Knight said. “It keeps us out of trouble.”
Over the years, law enforcement officials in Spokane County have largely dismissed cameras as not worth the cost. But as agencies deal with high-profile cases of alleged misconduct, the cameras are getting a new look.
Spokane police Ombudsman Tim Burns recommended in his annual report to City Council earlier this month that cameras be installed in police cars to provide definitive evidence in cases that otherwise would be mostly the officer’s word against the accuser’s.
A Spokane County sheriff’s deputy was fired recently after multiple investigations into allegations of criminal misconduct and poor work performance revealed a pattern of bad behavior.
“If you’re a law enforcement officer, you shouldn’t be committing crimes,” said Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.
The latest internal investigation of former Deputy Travis Smith’s behavior began last year after Smith stuck a knife into someone’s seat while searching their vehicle.
He had initiated a routine traffic stop and, after finding some marijuana, obtained a search warrant for the vehicle and seized it. A search the next day turned up brass knuckles with a three- to four-inch knife blade attached and a bandanna with a swastika on it.
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich and state Rep. Kevin Parker will hold a town hall meeting Saturday to discuss public concerns over the bomb found along the parade route in downtown Spokane Monday.
The one-hour forum, “Understanding threats in our community”, will allow area residents to discuss their concerns and share ideas about the bomb that rerouted Spokane’s Martin Luther King Day parade as well as the Tucson shootings, Parker, R-Spokane, said.
“As a survivor of the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999, I have learned it is essential we come together to talk about the safety of the community,” said Parker, who was a youth counselor talking with a student when those shootings occurred.
The town hall begins at 10 a.m. Saturday in Room 122 of the Phase 1 Building, WSU Riverpoint Campus, 412 E. Spokane Falls Blvd.
Longtime Spokane County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan is being transferred to the office’s internal affairs staff.
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said today that he wants to hire a civilian to handle spokesman duties because he needs to fill a sergeant’s position in the division that typically undertakes internal investigations into deputy actions.
Reagan’s transfer won’t be completed until the sheriff hires someone to replace him. The position is being advertised as having an annual salary of $55,000, Knezovich said.
The sheriff hopes to have the move completed by mid-February to mid-March, he said.