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Saturday, October 24, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Spokane seeks a ‘stabilizing’ police chief

Spokane seeks a police chief who can be a “stabilizing leader” for a challenging department, according to a job description posted this week.

The city opened applications for the chief job Monday, more than seven months after former Chief Frank Straub was forced out. Strategic Government Resources, a search firm hired by the city to assist with the search, will begin reviewing applications May 18.

The search process thus far has been marred by conflict among members of the volunteer advisory committee tasked with providing input on the job description and hiring process, ultimately resulting in chairwoman Mary Ann Murphy’s resignation in March.

But the published job requirements appear to include most of the recommendations made by the committee, including a commitment to community policing, a bachelor’s degree and excellent leadership skills including a “command presence.”

The only clear difference is a minimum qualification of 10 years of law enforcement experience. The committee had recommended 15, but city spokesman Brian Coddington said it was changed after talking with the search firm.

“It is the minimum qualification. It just allows for a bigger applicant pool to be considered,” he said.

The posting describes Spokane as a “demanding and complex policing environment” and notes that Straub only held the job for three years. It also mentions the community and activist groups that regularly weigh in on local politics and policing.

“Relationships with these groups and cultures have become strained and rebuilding rapport and an atmosphere of trust that leads to establishing productive alliances will be an important focus for the next Chief,” the description says.

Mayor David Condon said in February he plans to hire a new chief by July 1, the expiration date for the city’s current contract with former U.S. Attorney Jim McDevitt, who is serving as temporary law enforcement director.

Coddington confirmed Friday the city expects the search firm to forward the names of finalists this summer, though he said the process may not be complete by July 1. He said Condon has not yet decided who would lead the department if McDevitt’s contract expires before a permanent chief is in place.

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