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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Council may fight ombudsman move

The Spokane City Council appears ready to challenge Mayor David Condon’s decision to dismiss the city’s first police ombudsman. Tim Burns, who helped pioneer Spokane’s still-fledgling police oversight program, was informed on Monday by City Administrator Theresa Sanders that his three-year contract would not be renewed. His last day is Oct. 31, though he’ll be using up vacation for the last month.

Police ombudsman to depart in October

Spokane’s first police ombudsman will soon be out of a job, and the city may be without a permanent replacement for several months. Mayor David Condon has decided not to renew Ombudsman Tim Burns’ three-year contract that expires Aug. 24, said City Administrator Theresa Sanders. He will keep his job, however, until Oct. 31.

Chief OKs conduct probe

A disagreement between the interim Spokane police chief and the ombudsman about how a police misconduct allegation should be investigated has been resolved after witnesses came forward with new information. A meeting scheduled last Friday between Interim Chief Scott Stephens, Ombudsman Tim Burns and Mayor David Condon never happened because Stephens informed Condon of his intention to investigate the accusation that police bruised a woman’s arms while handcuffing her at her home in early April.

SPD needs new tack to earn citizenry’s trust

We’re in the “show me” phase of the city’s relationship with the police department. So it’s a problem that the interim chief seems to think we’re still in “trust us” mode.

Complaint going to mayor

A disagreement between the interim Spokane police chief and the police ombudsman about the handling of a recent complaint is getting the mayor’s attention. Ombudsman Tim Burns is asking Mayor David Condon to force the Spokane Police Department to investigate a complaint that arose when officers responded to a report of possible domestic violence at a home in the city.

Council delays ombudsman vote

The Spokane City Council isn’t giving up on stronger police oversight, at least not for two more weeks. The council voted 6-0 this week to delay a decision on whether to repeal the expanded investigative power given to the city’s ombudsman in 2010. The delay will give an outside attorney time to see whether a labor arbitrator’s July decision demanding the city repeal the ordinance should be appealed. The law, which strengthened the city’s original ombudsman rules from 2008, gave Ombudsman Tim Burns the power to investigate accusations of police misconduct separately from the police department’s own reviews.

Panel won’t overturn decision on police ombudsman’s powers

Efforts to expand the Spokane police ombudsman’s authority to conduct independent investigations into alleged officer misconduct have suffered another blow. The state Public Employment Relations Commission has not only rejected a request from the City Council to consider overturning an arbitrator’s decision blocking the expansion; it sent a letter highly critical of Spokane’s legal strategy, noting it was the city that opted for arbitration rather than a commission review.

Council debates oversight rules

Spokane City Council members suggested they may need voters to save the stronger police oversight rules they approved last year, by working to place the concept on the ballot. Passions were high during the council’s Monday meeting as they discussed overturning police oversight rules. The debate included a few shouting matches between attendees and Council President Joe Shogan.

Police ombudsman rules downgraded

An arbitrator this week revoked a law that strengthened Spokane’s police ombudsman powers because the city did not consult the Spokane Police Guild before it was approved last year. The decision by arbitrator Michael H. Beck effectively reverses rules that strengthened the ability of police Ombudsman Tim Burns to investigate alleged officer misconduct independently of police. The opinion was dated Monday; the city received it Tuesday.

Officer’s text message ruled a factor in pedestrian fatality

A Spokane police officer who hit and killed an intoxicated pedestrian in his patrol car in January was typing a message into his onboard computer just before the crash. Officer Gordon Ennis told investigators he sent the message to another officer just before he struck John A. Van Curler at West Montgomery Avenue while southbound on North Monroe Street on Jan. 30.