Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now
News >  Column

Doug Clark: A police chief who understands Spokane

City spokeswoman Marlene Feist poses with columnist Doug Clark on Friday.
City spokeswoman Marlene Feist poses with columnist Doug Clark on Friday.

After devoting literally minutes to examining the three final Spokane police chief candidates, I have come to a career-altering decision.

I’m taking the job.

But first, let me assure everyone that I have nothing whatsoever against those three finalists: George Markert, Daniel Mahoney and Frank Straub.

Fine fellows one and all, no doubt.

I’m sure they all pay most of their taxes and would never stoop to resume padding, especially now that they can see how easy it is to get caught.

In Thursday’s front-page photograph of these three gentlemen, they struck me as – and I say this with all due respect – more worn out than Randy Johnson’s pitching shoulder.

Do any of these men have what it takes to drag our scandal-plagued police department into the 20th century?

I fear not.

See, the Spokane Police Department is a grinder.

The hours are lousy and there’s the constant stress of having to deal with criminal minds like burglars and Police Guild officials.

This job calls for a chief with vim and vigor and skin thicker than hippo hide.

So, all together now …

“Three cheers for Chief Doug!”

Makes perfect sense when you do the math.

I have, after all, written thousands of columns concerning SPD abuses of power.

And those are just the ones about Otto Zehm.

I also have experience dealing with red-faced, irate citizens or, in my case, editors.

Plus, I do love donuts.

I have big plans, too.

As my first act as chief, I am giving the department my new “Spokane: These Things Happen” badge that will soon be a mandatory part of all police uniforms.

I wish I could claim credit for the slogan, but that goes to city spokeswoman Marlene Feist.

She uttered the words to a reporter the other day after chief finalist Brian Ulring chickened out of the chief search for “personal reasons.”

Personal reasons, my rump.

Ulring’s vanishing act came after this newspaper uncovered compelling evidence that two of the former Stockton, Calif., chief’s claimed college degrees came from a diploma mill with standards lower than a hillbilly’s outhouse.

These things happen.

Has there ever been a more apt slogan?


CHIEF: “Officer, why did you bludgeon that civilian?”

OFFICER: “These things happen, sir.”

CHIEF: “Very well. Dismissed.”

My friend Matt Monroe made up some prototype badges combining the city of Spokane’s bridge-and-falls logo with a splash of color reminiscent of Expo ’74.

(Want a cool badge of your own? All it takes is a donation of $5 or more to the Second Harvest food bank. Send it to me in care of the S-R, 999 W. Riverside, Spokane, WA 99201, and make sure to include your address and phone number so that I can mail a badge back to you.)

A bag of these beauties in hand, I dropped into our City Hall of Indecision on Friday afternoon to deliver free badges to City Council members and Mayor David Condon.

That was the plan, anyway.

Should have figured the seventh floor on a summer Friday afternoon would be deader than Gerald Ford.

Nobody was home at the City Council clubhouse. I think the sign on the door might have said “Gone Fishing,” but I didn’t get close enough to be sure.

Boy Mayor wasn’t to be found on his side, either.

I did manage to locate Feist. She not only accepted one of my badges but pinned it on and even posed with Chief Doug for a photograph.

You know, sometimes this city is too weird for even me.

Doug Clark can be reached at (509) 459-5432