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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Spokane

Investigator chosen to examine turmoil at police department, City Hall

Kris Cappel, a principal in the Seattle investigation consulting firm the Seabold Group and a former federal prosecutor, has been chosen by Spokane Mayor David Condon and Council President Ben Stuckart to lead an investigation into the recent turmoil in the police department and City Hall.

City Hall has been engulfed by the problems in the aftermath of the forced resignation of police Chief Frank Straub. He had been accused of sexually harassing his spokeswoman, Monique Cotton, and of launching into tirades that some of his top administrators said crossed the line to abusive management. Cotton was hurriedly transferred to the parks department, something she demanded with the backing of an attorney. City officials denied for months any troubles between Straub and Cotton, though the mayor knew of the allegations in April.

Cappel was one of three finalists for the temporary position, and she will look into the process, policy and timelines related to sexual harassment and recent personnel moves involving the police department and the release of public records surrounding those personnel moves.

Cappel’s investigative work with the Seabold Group has focused on a number of topics, including sexual harassment and employee misconduct.

Before joining the Seattle firm in 2000, Cappel worked in New York as a federal prosecutor, where she helped prosecute a range of crimes including tax, credit card and bank fraud, as well as murder, bank robbery, kidnapping and extortion. Cappel also worked in San Francisco as a civil litigator, where she focused on employment law.

Michael Hogan, who was previously named by Condon to investigate the matter, is not part of the inquiry. His investigation was scuttled after City Council members questioned its independence from Condon.

A joint committee with members chosen by Condon and the City Council is helping lead the investigation. The committee consists of Councilwoman Karen Stratton; Brian McClatchey, the City Council’s policy adviser; Rick Romero, the city’s utilities head; and Laura McAloon, an attorney. They have agreed to speak publicly on the matter only when they unanimously agree on a statement.

Calls to the committee’s members about the investigation’s duration were not returned Monday.

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