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The appointment of the final member of the committee that will help select the next Spokane police ombudsman was delayed after questions arose about the NAACP's lack of support for finalists.
Former Spokane Mayor Dennis Hession is among three finalists under consideration to serve as the Spokane police ombudsman commission’s attorney. Hession was an early advocate to create a police ombudsman position during his two years as Spokane mayor from 2005 to 2007. He told commissioners that he’s well-equipped to offer legal advice because of his past experience, and stressed the importance of believing in the commission’s mission of providing oversight.
Former Spokane mayor Dennis Hession is among the three attorneys the police ombudsman commission is considering contracting with for independent legal advice.
In his last days in office, outgoing police ombudsman Tim Burns said ongoing mistrust of Spokane police is rooted in past events, and that it’s time for the community to acknowledge the large strides that have been made in police reform. “Oversight will always be on the agenda, from Otto Zehm’s day forward,” he said.
After formally accepting the resignation of police ombudsman Tim Burns on Wednesday, members of the Police Ombudsman Commission appointed one of their own to serve on the selection committee to find Burns’ replacement.
After five and a half years on the job, Spokane’s first police ombudsman announced Friday he’ll retire in early 2015. Tim Burns announced his resignation after informal talks earlier in the week with city officials, and said he’s been considering stepping down for several months.
After five and a half years on the job, Spokane's first police ombudsman announced Friday he'll be retiring in early 2015.
The feds are getting ready to give the Spokane Police Department a report card of sorts – a wide-ranging set of recommendations arising from a two-year review of department practices. It will be several weeks before the public is allowed to see the details. But next week, the team from the Department of Justice’s COPS program will be back in town to go over the preliminary recommendations with city officials and to establish a schedule for how and when the department will meet what are expected to be about 40 recommendations.
Spokane’s new citizens commission charged with overseeing police complaints opened its first meeting with many of the dreadfully dull but important questions that government work is made of: scheduling meetings, deciding leadership duties, learning the ropes of Robert’s Rules of Order and the state public meetings law. But before the night was over, the Office of the Police Ombudsman Commission was already engaging serious issues, formally asking the Spokane Police Department to more thoroughly investigate two complaints, including one that has been the most significant point of disagreement between the ombudsman, Tim Burns, and police Chief Frank Straub.
Depending on whom you ask, the timing of Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich’s request for the Spokane police ombudsman to assume a similar role for the county may be perfect, or politically motivated. Discussions between Knezovich and Tim Burns, the man who’s conducted internal reviews of police cases since 2008, have ramped up in recent weeks to formalize a long-standing relationship between the two agencies, the two men said. Knezovich said his pitch to county commissioners Tuesday morning is the culmination of months of discussions he’s had with Burns and the Center for Justice to develop an oversight structure of the department similar to the one in place at the city.
Idaho typically elects conservative officeholders with skeptical views of government and then allows them to lower the blinds on public information. One would think voters would want the government closest to them to be the most open, but that’s not how it works in the Gem State.
A five-member advisory board to give further oversight of the Spokane Police Department will include the former director of a human rights organization and a retired military official who most recently served at the Pentagon. Voters approved the creation of the citizen oversight commission in early 2013, and members are expected to begin their work within a month, after they pass criminal background checks and the City Council officially approves their appointments.
BOISE – Gov. Butch Otter seemed a bit surprised that he’d already received a public records request for documents related to his move to create a public records ombudsman position in his office, before he’d even formally announced the move. “Did you hear about that?” he asked reporters before his press conference in the governor’s office, referring to the request from AP reporter Rebecca Boone. “She asked for public records on the executive order I’m signing about public records today!” When a reporter – OK, it was me – responded, “What a great idea!” a laughing Otter said, “You guys – get outta here.”
BOISE – Idaho Gov. Butch Otter signed an executive order Wednesday creating an Idaho public records ombudsman to manage concerns and complaints. The new ombudsman will collect information about state agencies’ compliance with Idaho laws requiring disclosure of public records and work with the governor, stakeholders and the public to improve Idaho’s system.
Members of the Spokane Police Guild voted overwhelmingly Friday to accept a five-year labor contract that includes new provisions for investigations by the police ombudsman. The contract, already approved by the Spokane City Council, should take effect immediately, said Council President Ben Stuckart.