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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sirens & Gavels

Police accountability director goes through law enforcement academy

Tim Schwering, the civilian director of the Spokane Police Department's accountability office, won't be a civilian much longer.

Schwering is joining new recruits in the police academy, which starts next week. He'll graduate in June as a commissioned police officer.

Schwering, a former fraud investigator with the federal public defender's office, was hired by former Chief Frank Straub in 2013 to serve as a point of contact between the police department and city attorney's office.

He currently runs the Office of Professional Accountability, which is responsible for records management, Internal Affairs, the body camera program and implementing Department of Justice recommendations.

Department spokeswoman Teresa Fuller said training Schwering as an officer would make it easier for Schwering to make policy changes and understand why officers are trained the way they are.

“All the way around it will make him a better leader in our department,” she said.

Schwering said he completed a civil service exam, background investigation, polygraph examination and all other required tests to enter the academy with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office last year, when he was considering switching agencies. He made the decision to remain with the police department and transferred his paperwork over.

Attorney Breean Beggs, a longtime advocate for police reform who represented Otto Zehm's family in a suit against the city, said training Schwering would benefit the city.

"It will give him in the long run more credibility in the long run if he’s a commissioned officer," Beggs said. “He wants to go that way in his career so if we didn’t do it here in City of Spokane, he would probably go someplace else.”

Rachel Alexander
Rachel Alexander came to the Spokesman-Review in 2014 after working for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. She covers social services, health and science for the City Desk and writes a monthly data-focused column, Know Spokane.

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