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Spokane’s police ombudsman has reversed his stance and is asking city leaders for the right to examine allegations of police misconduct independent of the Police Department’s own probes. When the topic was debated last year, some city leaders, including Mayor Mary Verner and City Council President Joe Shogan, had questioned the need to expand the ombudsman’s powers, in part, because Ombudsman Tim Burns wasn’t requesting it.
A Seattle policeman is the latest law enforcement officer in the region to attain YouTube celebrity over a confrontation. Maybe you’ve seen it. He’s trying to cite a 19-year-old woman for jaywalking, and she’s unhappy about it. Actively unhappy. Her 17-year-old friend joins the fray and gets slugged in the jaw. A crowd gathers, cell phone cameras roll and onlookers taunt the lone officer, who finally gets his suspects subdued.
Spokane’s Police Ombudsman has a new tool to make it easier for people to file complaints against officers.
The Spokane Police Guild joined the “Make a Splash” campaign this week by donating $250 to help cover swimming fees for children at the city’s pools. That’s a nice gesture of community outreach, but the union could make a bigger splash by agreeing to more credible oversight of the Police Department. The City Council is considering ideas for expanding the powers of the police ombudsman to allow independent investigations. Currently, the ombudsman, Tim Burns, reviews police reports but cannot conduct his own inquiries. In April, Burns issued his first report, which showed that 18 out of 19 cases he examined were “timely, thorough and objective.” No details of these reviews have been released.
For the record, I am all in favor of elevating our police ombudsman into something more than a Spokane Police Guild sock puppet. But do I think giving Tim Burns broader investigative powers is the solution to healing our troubled city law enforcement?
Two dozen people urged the Spokane City Council to let the city police ombudsman listen to someone other than police about police misconduct, but a confidential legal memo stood in the way Monday. Councilman Bob Apple was the lone opponent of an effort to delay for a month any decision on his proposal to let ombudsman Tim Burns conduct his own investigations into complaints of police misconduct.
An effort to expand the powers of the city of Spokane’s police ombudsman may go before the City Council on Monday night. The proposed ordinance would allow Ombudsman Tim Burns to go beyond simply observing internal police probes and allow him to publish reports on those investigations – with a few exceptions – and contact the people who make complaints against police officers. He would also be allowed to interview witnesses of the incidents that led to complaints.
There’s been so much crazy cop news around here lately that it’s hard to keep track of the mayhem. So I designed today’s helpful quiz as a way to test your knowledge of local law enfarcement.
So what should the public think of the Spokane Police Guild’s no-confidence vote for Chief Anne Kirkpatrick and her administration? Not much. When the union thinks it has a story that should worry the general public, it will release the tallies. In the meantime, there isn’t much to go on. Guild President Ernie Wuthrich, a Spokane police detective, says the trust level of officers is “at an all-time low.”
The first 18 of 19 internal investigations into police actions to be reviewed by Spokane’s police ombudsman have been labeled “timely, thorough and objective.” Spokane’s first police ombudsman, Tim Burns, released data about his first few months on the job this week as part of his annual report to City Council.
The first 18 of 19 internal investigations into police actions to be reviewed by Spokane’s police ombudsman have been labeled “timely, thorough and objective.”
A coalition of organizations called on Spokane City Hall last week to create stronger oversight of its police force, but some elected leaders say they want to give the new ombudsman system time before changing it. Last fall, the Spokane City Council unanimously passed a resolution asking Mayor Mary Verner to push during union contract negotiations to give the police ombudsman the power to independently investigate reports of law enforcement abuses.
A coalition of groups fighting for stronger police oversight said Tuesday that a new police contract shouldn’t stop the city from giving the new police ombudsman more authority.
City Hall’s largest union will give up half of its promised 2010 pay raise to prevent layoffs, if the Spokane City Council signs off on a new agreement. Officials last week released details of the city’s concession deal with Local 270 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. That deal, which affects more than 1,000 city workers, won more than 90 percent support from membership in a vote earlier this month.