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Friday, August 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Commission renews Spokane Police Ombudsman Bart Logue’s contract

UPDATED: Tue., Aug. 13, 2019, 8:38 p.m.

The Office of the Police Ombudsman Commission unanimously voted Tuesday to renew the contract of Bart Logue, shown here in 2016, to serve as the civilian watchdog of the Spokane Police Department for three more years. JESSE TINSLEY jesset@spokesman.com (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
The Office of the Police Ombudsman Commission unanimously voted Tuesday to renew the contract of Bart Logue, shown here in 2016, to serve as the civilian watchdog of the Spokane Police Department for three more years. JESSE TINSLEY jesset@spokesman.com (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Bart Logue will be the civilian watchdog of the Spokane Police Department for three more years.

With glowing praise, the Office of the Police Ombudsman Commission unanimously voted on Tuesday to renew Logue’s contract as the city’s police ombudsman.

“I sense that the citizens are feeling listened to, respected, and that Mr. Logue will do everything in his power to advocate and do what is right and will not give up easily – if ever, for that matter,” Commissioner Ladd Smith said. “His integrity is also exceptional.”

Logue, who has frequently battled the police department and Spokane Police Guild on the scope and level of his oversight, held the position on an interim basis for seven months, before he was appointed and signed a three-year contract in 2016.

His new contract takes effect next month.

“Our office, as along as I’m there, we will give our best every single day,” Logue pledged following the commission’s vote.

The ombudsman’s office was established during a wave of citizen outrage following the death of Otto Zehm at the hands of city police in 2006.

Although he does not have the authority to dole out discipline, the ombudsman’s role includes oversight of the police department at several levels. He receives citizen complaints and chooses whether to forward them to the department’s Internal Affairs unit; participates in Internal Affairs investigations and certifies that an inquiry was sufficient; and makes policy and procedure recommendations to the police department.

Logue’s current efforts include collaborating with Spokane police Chief Craig Meidl to rewrite the department’s use of force policy, which could be published as soon as September.

Earlier this year, Logue fought the police guild for the right to participate in an internal affairs investigation into a February incident in which Spokane police lifted a police dog into a vehicle in an attempt to apprehend a suspect. The dog bit the man in the leg, requiring stitches.

Three members of the public spoke in support of renewing Logue’s contract at Tuesday’s commission meeting, and none advocated against it. The Spokane Police Guild did not offer any comment to the commission at the meeting or in writing.

Robert Esseltine worked with Logue in filing a complaint, later resolved through mediation, against an officer he said laughed at him while writing a ticket for violating the city’s sit-lie law in 2017. The process, he said, “gave me a sense of dignity I never had coming from a government entity anywhere.”

“I got dignity and respect from Bart,” Esseltine said.

Dainen Penta, executive director of the Spokane Center for Justice, also praised Logue, saying that recent events regarding police conduct “would not have come to light” if not for his office.

Logue thanked members of the public for their support, saying the relationships he has built help to keep him “moving forward when the going gets tough.”

Commissioner Elizabeth Kelley praised Logue for his passion for the job, as well as his support for those who work in his office.

“He is accessible virtually 24/7,” Kelley said.

Logue has pushed for broader authority to publish closing reports following an investigation into officer conduct and for his office to be notified about a broader range of officer-involved incidents.

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