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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Lichty takes aim at mayor for “broken promise” on police oversight

Mayoral candidate Shar Lichty is taking aim at Mayor David Condon for what she says is a failure to provide independent police oversight in Spokane.

Lichty, an organizer with the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane, sent out a news release Wednesday criticizing Condon's administration for being "a consistent obstacle to bringing true oversight to the Office of Police Ombudsman, as mandated by the City Charter."

At a public forum Tuesday night, she also urged police ombudsman commissioners to reject all three ombudsman candidates offered by the city.

She said online comments made by finalist Allen Huggins about protests in Baltimore and the Black Lives Matter movement should have eliminated him from consideration.

"It is painfully obvious that the selection committee did not do their due diligence," she said.

She told commissioners to ask the ombudsman selection committee to forward names for an interim ombudsman candidate instead, then do a new search for a permanent ombudsman. 

The full text of the news release is below:

Mayor Condon has not only broken his campaign promise to bring accountability and transparency to the police department but has been a consistent obstacle to bringing true oversight to the Office of Police Ombudsman, as mandated by the City Charter.

  • Despite 69% of the voters mandating independent investigative authority for the OPO through a Charter amendment, Condon’s administration failed to negotiate the issue with the Police Guild in 2013.
  • Condon’s administration failed to staff the OPO in a timely manner despite requests from the Ombudsman Commission and Council to put an interim in place.
  • Failure to have an OPO in place directly led to the situation with OPO staff that led to the dismissal of three OPO Commissioners.
  • Lack of transparency between the OPO selection committee and the OPOC has led the public to question whether the three finalists for OPO are truly the best qualified for the position.
  • Condon’s administration failed to provide staffing capacity to do community engagement concerning the OPO interviews and thus providing a more accurate public perception of the candidates to assist the OPOC in making a decision.

“Condon’s actions, or lack thereof, concerning the Ombusdman are like a slap in the face of the voters, put the City in violation of the Charter, and leave the City susceptible to lawsuits. Even our three finalists for OPO clearly understand that the current ordinance is not in compliance with the Charter and the will of the voters,” said Shar Lichty. “As a community leader who has worked on this issue for six years, I have done more to give the Ombudsman independent investigative authority than Mayor Condon ever has, ever will, and ever intended to.”

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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