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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Long wait by armed driver also at issue

Spokane Police Ombudsman Tim Burns also declined to certify an investigation regarding a driver who had a permit to own a handgun but was given the gun back in pieces following a traffic stop. The man, whose name was withheld from the report, informed police upon being stopped for a minor traffic offense June 27 that he had a loaded and holstered handgun. Police handcuffed the man and placed him in the back of a patrol car while they verified his gun permit.

Use-of-force case leaves questions

Brian Greear remembers the sirens that prompted him to stop his car. But the 27-year-old Spokane man says he can’t remember what happened before he awoke face down in a South Hill street with a police officer’s knee in his back. “I just heard ‘Stop resisting! Stop resisting,’ ” he said.

Verner takes lead in longevity

In the decade since Spokane began electing strong mayors, none had served more than three years – until this week. Mayor Mary Verner didn’t even need to finish her term to become the city’s longest-serving strong mayor.

Editorial: It’s prudent not to rush to judgment in shootings

Public safety suffers when healthy skepticism devolves into corrosive cynicism. Please note that we were 100 percent behind a new system of police oversight and the hiring of an ombudsman. We supported the push to expand the powers to allow for independent investigations into officer-involved shootings. We’ve weighed in with deep concern over the handling of several police-related incidents, especially the in-custody death of Otto Zehm.

Baumgartner and Marr: Police ombudsmen

Washington state Sen. Chris Marr, a Democrat, and his Republican challenger Michael Baumgartner answer the question, "Should state law be changed to allow cities to fire fully independent police ombudsmen without seeking approval from police unions?"

ACLU argues city denied rights

The American Civil Liberties Union says the Spokane city attorney’s office violated the constitutional rights of a local attorney. In a letter to city officials last week, Michael Kipling, an attorney representing the ACLU, said that Assistant City Attorney Rocky Treppiedi violated Breean Beggs’ rights by telling Beggs he was prohibited from talking to City Council members about proposed changes to the city’s police oversight law.

Vestal: Kirkpatrick’s ‘protocol’ lecture missed the point

Earlier this week, 13 days after a cop fatally shot a citizen on his own property, Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick appeared before the public. Basic information about the shooting of Wayne Scott Creach has been slow to emerge and shamefully scarce. Just days earlier, Kirkpatrick’s department had issued a news release describing the Aug. 25 event as a “close encounter” with a “verbal exchange” – paltry, insufficient generalities that could have accurately been stated the morning after the shooting.

Police supervisors criticize news media

An association of Spokane police supervisors is speaking out about perceived bias and negative press coverage of Spokane officers. Released to Spokane media and city officials Wednesday, a letter – written by the Spokane Police Lieutenants and Captains Association to commissioned officers on the force – states that “The time has come to tell the citizens of Spokane in plain language that their police department is a good one.”

Ombudsman gains power

Almost a year after he was hired, Spokane’s police ombudsman on Monday was granted the power to investigate cases of officer misconduct. The Spokane City Council voted unanimously to increase the ombudsman’s authority after the third hearing on the topic in two months.

Arrest of teacher still churns

Her friends remember Beverly Saruwatari as a model citizen – an honored public school teacher, a goodwill ambassador on Spokane’s Nishinomiya Sister City Committee and a devoted single mother. She died suddenly one year ago today of a brain hemorrhage – 20 days after a confrontation with police in the doorway of her South Hill home.

Editorial: Ombudsman ordinance should only get stronger

Though we must wait another week, the Spokane City Council looks to be on the verge of adopting a stronger police ombudsman ordinance. This is good news, because the community had grown skeptical of the current version, which doesn’t allow the ombudsman, Tim Burns, to conduct independent investigations. Because the original ordinance was watered down due to worries over a police union challenge, the audience that attended Monday night’s council meeting grew wary when they heard that a new draft had been produced earlier that day. As the meeting stretched into Tuesday morning, the council voted to postpone a decision.

Spokane council postpones vote on police ombudsman

The long debate over the power of Spokane’s new police ombudsman will last at least one more week. Early Tuesday morning, the Spokane City Council voted 6-1 to delay a decision on a plan giving Ombudsman Tim Burns the power to conduct independent investigations into police misconduct.

Police ombudsman debate runs late into night

The Spokane City Council Monday night debated late into the evening about a plan giving the city's police ombudsman authority to conduct independent investigations into police misconduct.

Spokane police ombudsman wants to investigate

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.

Editorial: Look beyond YouTube on complex police issues

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.

Editorial: Guild blocks opportunity to enhance police trust

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.