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Friday, September 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sheriff offers three nominees for Spokane Valley police chief

Spokane Valley Police Chief Rick VanLeuven will retire this summer, and Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich has announced three potential replacements.

The Spokane Valley Police Department is operated under contract with the sheriff’s office.

VanLeuven’s last day is June 30.

He said his only reason for leaving is that it’s time.

“This has absolutely nothing to do with the City Council or the city manager,” VanLeuven said, referring to strife on the Spokane Valley City Council over the effort to replace City Manager Mike Jackson. “It’s just that 35 years is a long tenure in law enforcement. I want to spend time with my family now.”

The new police chief will be chosen by the city manager from the three candidates selected by Knezovich.

In Jackson’s absence - he’s on paid leave after the city council asked him to resign in February - Deputy City Manager Mark Calhoun would pick the new police chief.

But Calhoun said since there’s plenty of time before a new chief has to be appointed, he’s working on a process that will involve other people.

“I will at some point talk to the council about the process,” Calhoun said. “I don’t think this will be a matter of one person making the decision.”

VanLeuven is a frequent guest at City Council meetings and Councilman Chuck Hafner said he’s known him for many years.

“He has excelled in every position he has served within the Sheriff’s Department, especially as the chief for Spokane Valley,” Hafner said. “Under his direction, we are a safe city and I, as a citizen and councilman, will miss his leadership and his friendship.”

Councilman Bill Gothmann said he always found VanLeuven fair and open-minded.

“I’ve seen examples of people who turned their lives around and got back on track, and the chief always recognized that,” Gothmann said, adding that he was always amazed by how much VanLeuven knew about crime statistics. “I think he’s been an outstanding police chief.”

VanLeuven has been with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office since May 1979.

He became Spokane Valley’s second police chief when he was appointed in 2007, following Cal Walker in that job.

VanLeuven, 56, is intensely private and didn’t share much about how he’s going to spend retirement other than pursuing his hobbies.

“I’m just going to be pretty generic with the personal information,” VanLeuven said.

VanLeuven said he’s grateful Knezovich gave him the opportunity to be police chief.

“I will stick around and help make the transition to the new chief as smooth as possible,” VanLeuven said.

Knezovich has chosen three candidates for Spokane Valley to consider as VanLeuven’s replacement:

Investigations Cmdr. Capt. John Nowels, who’s been with the sheriff’s office for more than 17 years. He’s the overall supervisor of the major crimes, sexual assault, property crimes, drug crimes and forensics units. And he’s the commander of the multi-jurisdictional Spokane Regional Safe Streets Task Force.

Patrol Cmdr. Capt. Mark Werner, who joined the sheriff’s office in 1994. He has served as patrol deputy, field training officer, SWAT team member and a narcotics detective.

Intelligence Cmdr. Capt. Dave Ellis, who joined the sheriff’s office 2002, after serving with the Post Falls Police Department since 1998. Highlights from his career include stints as a patrol deputy, regional training coordinator, tactical flight officer and supervisor of the Air Support Unit.

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