Ideally, the permanent Spokane police ombudsman would come from the community-oriented process created to find one. But despite good intentions, it hasn’t unfolded smoothly. Unraveled is more like it.
The ombudsman commission imploded, losing three of its five members. The former chair, Rachel Dolezal, drew national attention with her peculiar drama.
That isn’t the fault of the current commission, but it’s been 15 months since the city’s first ombudsman, Tim Burns, announced his resignation.
An Aug. 25 article about the three finalists coming to town was headlined, “Long wait to hire new ombudsman nears end.”
It’s nearly eight months later, and the community is still waiting for the permanent ombudsman’s first day on the job.
The top candidate was rejected when an investigator unearthed complaints about his on-the-job behavior in Florida. The ultimate selection, Raheel Humayun, resides in Canada and is struggling to obtain the necessary visa to work in Spokane. The third candidate never had a chance when his indelicate online comments surfaced.
Call the process flawed or snake-bit, but it’s time to call it off.
The delays led to the hiring of an interim ombudsman in early February. Bart Logue is a former diplomat and Marine Corps provost marshal. Commissioners say it’s the city’s fault for not seeking interim oversight sooner.
At this point, it doesn’t matter where blame lies. The city just needs this resolved once and for all.
Mayor David Condon and City Council President Ben Stuckart have been impressed enough with Logue to endorse him for the permanent post.
“Mr. Logue has demonstrated his qualifications, character, and desire to serve in this capacity,” they said in letter to the commission.
Ombudsman Commissioner Scott Richter agrees.
And why not? Logue is here. He’s been performing the job. His qualifications stack up nicely to the three candidates the commission identified.
Waiting for Humayun to arrive from British Columbia at a date uncertain – and perhaps not until October – after already waiting 15 months, does not engender community confidence.
End that process and begin the one needed to hire Logue.
Commission Chair Deb Conklin said she would oppose an effort to fast-track that process. We think speed is of the essence.
The community needs resolution more than additional deliberations. It needs to see someone doing the job. Someone it knows will be around for awhile. With all of the uncertainty about leadership in the Police Department, it’s important to get the oversight position nailed down.
It’s unfortunate events have turned out this way. The commission has made a good-faith effort to follow a process that is inclusive and transparent. But this has dragged on to the point of absurdity.
The city needs a permanent ombudsman. We recommend the one who is in place.
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