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Wednesday, December 11, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Clark: Abandon hope, all ye who would be our police chief

Well, well. Time again to welcome the sad, misguided suckers who think they want to become our next Spokane police chief.

Hey, I realize why any outsider would want to call my hometown home.

Spokane is not only a wonderful place to raise kids, but we’re also fourth in the nation for car thefts.

But coming here to be Spokane’s police chief?

That’s a different proposition.

So allow me to take a moment to give these deluded dreamers a few helpful words of advice.


Not that I expect any of the 13 or so applicants to take my warning to heart.

I’m just going through the motions. That way, in a year or two, when Chief Whositz is indicted or up to his or her neck in bat guano, I can say:

“Ha! Told you so.”

Columnists live for that sort of stuff.

Speaking of which, it was almost six years ago to the day when I attempted to warn off the last batch of chief wannabes.

“The poor souls,” I wrote. “They remind me of those brave soldiers in the ‘Aliens’ movie who stormed into dark tunnels on a rescue mission only to discover they had unwittingly wandered into a hive of giant acid-belching space insects.”

And so I ask you …

Was I right? Or was I right?

Anne Kirkpatrick won the job, largely due to having the most adorable Southern drawl.

The woman also vibrated with energy like a tuning fork. She came in with these grand ideas for the department like No Lying and No Scandals.


All this high standards talk immediately set Kirkpatrick at odds with the Spokane Police Guild, which bases its own values on the Corleone family in the first two “Godfather” films.

Kirkpatrick was mugged from the get-go. Her attempts to discipline cops that got out of line usually ended up with huge court settlements for the cops.

The Guild sabotaged her at every turn, once holding a fake vote of no confidence.

Kirkpatrick finally quit to hopefully find a less-stressful line of work, like lion taming.

It was a deflating experience. Already a diminutive woman, poor Kirkpatrick slinked away looking like a sock puppet minus the hand.

Oh, I know. But everything’s so different now, you say.

True, we do have this young and exciting new mayor, David Condon.

He’s off to a grand start, too, consuming himself with important civic priorities like lowering our water rates and raising enormous piles of cash for his upcoming re-election three-plus years from now.

But one of Condon’s promises was to rebuild the public’s faith in the Spokane Police Department, which, on a scale of difficulty, is just below rolling a peanut all the way up the Clocktower with your nose.

Condon remains determined, however, and he has spent a lot of time talking about adopting the metro model of policing.

Under this design, police forces from the county and city would operate as a single agency.

Interesting. But given Spokane’s cowboy cop history, I think we’d be better off adopting the metrosexual model of policing.

Under this system, police officers would exchange their paramilitary uniforms for less-threatening cardigan sweaters and man purses.

It’s still way too early to predict a front-runner for the chief’s job. One name that has emerged, however, is Indianapolis safety director Frank Straub, who was invited to apply by Condon himself.

Straub has reportedly run afoul of his police union back home in Indiana. This should give the man an enormous advantage in knowing exactly what to expect here if he starts harping about any of that “reform the department” nonsense.

Straub, who has reportedly submitted his resignation back in Indy, has described himself as not easy to work with.

So adding it all up, Straub seems like the ideal candidate who, if hired as chief, will provide the citizens of Spokane with scores of entertaining future Clark columns.

A win-win, I’d call that.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at

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