City: Western Spokane County, Wash.
Occupation: Spokane County sheriff
Education: Graduated from Rock Springs High School in Wyoming. Graduated from Weber State College with an integrated studies bachelor’s degree in 1985.
Work experience: Became town marshal in Superior, Wyoming in 1990. Joined Rock Springs, Wyoming police force in 1991. Joined Olympia Police Department in 1995. Joined Spokane County Sheriff’s Office as deputy in 1996. Became sergeant in 2004. Appointed Spokane County sheriff by county commissioners in 2006 and won election to the post in November of that year. Re-elected while unopposed in 2010.
Political experience: Former president of the Spokane County Deputy Sheriff’s Association. Former president of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. Named to the FBI’s Law Enforcement Executive Development Association in 2008. Served as president of that group in 2012.
Military: U.S. Army airborne medical specialist and combat medic, served in Korea, 1987-90.
Family: Married, three grown children.
I remember the moment I became an Ozzie Knezovich fan. It was June 2006. That’s when Knezovich showed Joseph “Cuppa Joe” Mastel and the citizens of Spokane County what being a real leader is all about.
The deputy who fatally shot a Spokane Valley pastor and business owner last week was identified Monday as Brian Hirzel, a two-year veteran of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office who also has held law enforcement positions in Kootenai County and in Southern California. Hirzel, 41, has agreed to meet Thursday with detectives investigating the shooting death of 74-year-old Wayne Scott Creach, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich confirmed. The investigation is being conducted by the Spokane Police Department.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich extended condolences Friday to the family of slain pastor Wayne Scott Creach and asked for the community to be patient as investigators determine why he was shot by a Spokane Valley police officer. Knezovich said he wants to assure residents that a “full and complete” investigation will be performed and that all the details will eventually come out. However, he offered no new details and did not name the officer who shot the 74-year-old pastor.
Spokane County Jail inmates will start returning today to cells they flooded with toilet water Saturday evening. Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich plans to seek felony charges against those who were responsible if an assessment confirms the damage was as costly as county officials expect.
Penalties against four Spokane County Jail deputies who allowed an inmate’s death to go undetected for eight hours range from dismissal to a reprimand. Workplace charges in the Nov. 11 death of Fredrick James Juhnke were filed in February and March. Video surveillance and interviews revealed that Kenneth Downey, Lloyd Nolan, David Hatton and Jeff Way failed to make required half-hourly checks on inmates’ welfare, but there was no allegation that they caused or could have prevented Juhnke’s death.
A testament to the popularity of Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich may be the level to which candidates for Spokane County prosecutor are seeking his support. The situation came to a head last week when incumbent Steve Tucker announced during a debate that he had the support of Knezovich. Asked to clarify that support, Tucker made it clear that the sheriff has not endorsed his candidacy.
A Spokane County Jail corrections deputy is challenging his dismissal in March for alleged failure to discover an inmate’s death and then lying about it. The deputy, Kenneth Downey, is one of four who were implicated in the Nov. 11 incident, in which an inmate lay dead in his cell for eight hours before his death from natural causes was discovered.
The Geiger Corrections Center will soon become an interim version of the treatment-focused “community corrections center” that is to be part of a jail-construction bond measure next April. Although Geiger will be available for overflow from the Spokane County Jail, its new mission will be to provide 144 beds for offenders who are nearing release. Jail officials already have started rearranging inmate populations to conform to Geiger’s revised role.
The Geiger Corrections Center will soon become an interim version of the treatment-focused “community corrections center” that is to be part of a jail-construction bond measure next April.
An arbitrator is reviewing the case of a Spokane County corrections deputy fired after sheriff’s officials determined he used excessive force on an inmate. Wayne Green was fired last summer after an investigation into claims that he beat an inmate inside the Spokane County Jail booking area. Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Green “made a very rude comment” and provoked the situation.