Craig Meidl will lead the Spokane Police Department, after thousands of dollars were spent to find a new chief and the relationship between the City Council and Mayor David Condon came close to unraveling.
The council voted 5 to 1 Monday night to confirm the longtime Spokane police officer, with Councilman Breean Beggs abstaining.
“This community has been through so much,” said Councilwoman Candace Mumm, before casting her yes vote for Meidl, 385 days after Frank Straub was forced from office amid harassment allegations. The city spent more than $28,000 to find his replacement.
Councilwoman Lori Kinnear said in an interview before the vote she appreciated the concerns of some community members, stemming from Meidl’s courtroom salute of Karl Thompson, the Spokane officer convicted of civil rights violations in the 2006 death of Otto Zehm. But she said declining Meidl’s nomination would leave the department with an interim chief and continued low morale. Beggs abstained from the vote because he represented Zehm’s family in a civil lawsuit against the city.
“We deserve a perfect candidate,” Kinnear said. “But I don’t think that’s realistic.”
Councilwoman Karen Stratton, the lone vote against Meidl’s confirmation, said the concerns from her constituents were too great to vote yes.
“They matter to me, and on behalf of those volunteers and citizens who put a lot of thought and effort into this process, I’m going to vote no tonight,” Stratton said.
Condon, who was in the audience to deliver an address to the council, shook Meidl’s hand and left the chamber as the panel moved on to other matters.
“It has taken a lot of energy,” Meidl said after the vote. “I am appreciative, and thankful, that it’s over.”
Meidl said the city’s Human Resources Department will convene an independent panel to review promotion decisions made by outgoing Law Enforcement Director Jim McDevitt, including one that placed his wife, Tracie Meidl, as head of investigations. Craig Meidl said he has no involvement in that panel or in selecting its members, and that command staff decisions should be finalized by the end of October.