Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sirens & Gavels

A few more Spokane police policy changes

Last week, I got copies of the final two policies the Spokane Police Department has created or changed during their 18-month review by the Department of Justice. My last roundup on changes to the use of force policy and a few others is here.

The major change is a new policy on the department's Early Intervention System - a protocol designed to flag officers who are using force frequently to review whether they need additional training.

The department has had an informal system in place to alert an officer's chain of command to patterns of behavior, but that system is now formalized and includes automatic alerts from the internal affairs software system. 

Any officer with more than four reported uses of force in one year will generate an alert, which triggers a review. Canine applications are not included, since the department counts every time a canine touches a suspect as a use of force and canine incidents are reviewed separately.

Other incidents can also trigger review of an officer, including:

  • Two preventable vehicle collisions
  • Two legal interventions
  • Three vehicle pursuits
  • Two firearm discharges
  • Three citizen complaints or
  • Two internal complaints within a 12 month period

Supervisors can also be reviewed if the group of employees they supervise has 12 use of force applications in a year or meets other thresholds for the events listed above.

When an officer hits the threshold, the early intervention system notifies the Office of Professional Accountability, which is responsible for viewing all reports related to the alert. The OPA also notifies the officer's supervisor and the training group responsible for the area the officer was flagged.

Once everyone has been notified, the officer will meet with their supervisor to discuss the alert. The supervisor is responsible for coordinating with training staff to make sure the employee receives any extra training that's needed. 

Lt. Justin Lundgren, who oversees Internal Affairs, said the new policy serves as a redundancy. Supervisors and OPA staff will notice a pattern of problematic behavior before an alert and take action to identify training problems, he said.

“By the time that there’s any alert, it’s really not a surprise to anybody that’s in the chain of command," he said. The new Use of Force Review Board, which meets monthly, will also flag issues with individual officers, Lundgren said.

A revised SPD training policy also requires annual review of the training plan and establishes a new committee to oversee that process. Previously, those updates were made only by the training lieutenant, and no time frame for review was specified.

The training plan should also include information about crisis intervention training, the new policy says.


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.

Follow Rachel online: