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Tuesday, February 18, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane releases new batch of finalists for police chief; names include finalists from last list

Spokane police chief candidates Robert Lehner, left, and Dominic Rizzi, right listen to Mayor David Condon open a public meeting to introduce them to a packed room of citizens, July 20, 2016, at the West Central Community Center. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane police chief candidates Robert Lehner, left, and Dominic Rizzi, right listen to Mayor David Condon open a public meeting to introduce them to a packed room of citizens, July 20, 2016, at the West Central Community Center. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane officials have announced four finalists to lead the city’s police department.

The list includes the two finalists who were considered by Mayor David Condon earlier this summer before he rejected them in favor of assistant police Chief Craig Meidl, who hadn’t applied for the job.

Meidl, a surprise pick, was about to be rejected by the Spokane City Council when Condon agreed to redo the selection process.

The two returning candidates are Robert Lehner, chief of the Elk Grove, California, police department, and Dominic Rizzi, chief of the Yakima police department. The new names on the finalist list are Meidl and John Bruce, chief of police in Frisco, Texas.

Bruce has held his current job since 2013 and has been a police officer since 1986. He’s been with the Frisco Police Department since 1996. He did not return a message seeking comment.

Councilman Breean Beggs, who was a member of the selection committee, hopes Condon gives each candidate a fair chance, but he said “there is no mandate for the mayor to have an open mind.”

After Condon agreed to redo the selection process, four of the 10 candidates who originally applied dropped out. The current four were selected from a pool of six, Beggs said.

Although Bruce wasn’t one of the original four finalists, Beggs said he’s still a good candidate.

“The question wasn’t whether Craig Meidl or any other individual was qualified, the question was, when you compare all the remaining people in the pool, who is the most qualified to provide the leadership we need now,” Beggs said.

Lehner, of the Elk Grove Police Department, said the added complexity of the situation has made him more interested in the job.

“Spokane went from being one of the more challenging police chiefing jobs in the country to being possibly the most challenging police chiefing job in the country,” he said, adding “it’s that challenge that really does interest me.”

If Meidl is selected, Lehner said he wouldn’t see that as a “stacked process.”

In an email, Meidl said he is taking the process seriously and looks forward to answering community members’ questions at Tuesday’s forum. Meidl has been with the Spokane Police Department since 1994.

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