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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Police chief candidates down to three

Blair Ulring has withdrawn his name from contention for the next chief of the Spokane Police following questions about his academic credentials. The former chief of the Stockton Police listed on his resume a bachelor of science and a master of science that he may have purchased from a notorious diploma mill called “LaSalle University” in Mandeville, La. Ulring’s resume states that he earned the degrees at “La Salle University,” a 149-year-old Catholic school in Philadelphia. Though, the university registrar confirmed Monday that the school has no record that Ulring was ever a student there.

Watch Justin Runquist talk about this story with KHQ’s Dave Cotton

The Spokesman-Review reported on the matter Tuesday morning. Ulring declined multiple requests to speak with the paper about his academic record for the story. City spokeswoman Marlene Feist issued a news release making the announcement Tuesday morning. In an interview, Feist said Ulring cited “personal reasons” for dropping his candidacy. “These things happen,” Feist said. Prior to Ulring’s decision to withdraw, city officials had not reached the point in the vetting process where they would validate each candidate’s education credentials, she said. The Mayor’s Advisory Board on Policing recently completed a review and ranking process that included phone interviews with seven top candidates for chief. Then, the board whittled the list down to four finalists. Five officials sit on the board: former Police Chief Roger Bragdon; Jim McDevitt, a former U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington; former Police Guild President Cliff Walter; Interim Chief Scott Stephens; and Nancy Isserlis, a city attorney. The FBI raided LaSalle in 1996 and found just three faculty members for the 15,000 students registered at the unaccredited distance-learning institution. In reality, it was an operation in which faculty graded class papers by their weight on a scale instead of the quality of the work, diploma mill experts say. The school offered students credit for life experiences rather than coursework. LaSalle went under new ownership after the raid, but it failed to ever receive national accreditation. Those running the school changed its name to Orion College in 2001, a year before it finally shut down. The remaining police chief candidates are Daniel Mahoney, Frank Straub and George Markert. Each will have a 50-minute televised interview Wednesday on Comcast channel 5. Mahoney will be on at 11:10 a.m., Markert will be on at 1:15 p.m. and Straub at 2:20 p.m.

The Spokesman-Review will continue to provide updates as this story develops.
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