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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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Ombudsman can’t polish police image

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?

Spokane City Council delays police oversight decision

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.

Council to consider plan for stronger ombudsman

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.

When it comes to cop shenanigans, answers often lacking

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.

Editorial: Police Guild complaint about chief rings hollow

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.”

Police ombudsman issues first report to city

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.

Police ombudsman clears 18 of 19 cases

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.”

Greater ombudsman powers urged

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.

Groups criticize police oversight

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.

Union releases deal’s terms

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.

City Council backs strong police oversight

The Spokane City Council sent a message Monday to Mayor Mary Verner: Push for stronger independent oversight over police. In a unanimous decision, the council requested that Verner negotiate with the Spokane Police Guild to give the new police ombudsman the power to conduct independent investigations into police misconduct.

Verner foresees police cuts

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner’s annual state of the city address Monday made a dire prediction about the likelihood of winning police concessions to prevent job losses next year. “We will see 22 commissioned police officer positions eliminated from the budget,” Verner said.

Spokane’s police ombudsman ready to listen, earn trust

Spokane’s first police ombudsman, Tim Burns, started work late last month, nearly a year after the City Council created the position amid public outcry over police conduct. Burns, 55, moved to Spokane from Visalia, Calif., where he enforced codes as a neighborhood preservation manager. He also spent 22 years as a police officer in Los Gatos, Calif. For now, he’s working out of a temporary office in Spokane City Hall, but he plans to set up office space at community centers around the city. He discussed his plans in an interview last week. Q.What are you doing to get started?

Officer on desk duty pending trial

The Spokane police officer facing federal charges in connection with the 2006 death of Otto Zehm will remain on the city’s payroll but has been reassigned to desk duty while awaiting trial. The move, announced Thursday by City Administrator Ted Danek, comes two weeks after a federal grand jury indicted Officer Karl Thompson on charges of using unreasonable force and lying to prosecutors about the confrontation with Zehm on March 18, 2006.

Spokane City Council OKs police overseer

After years of debate, Spokane on Monday hired its first independent police ombudsman. But exactly how independent and effective the new overseer can be remains part of a contentious debate.