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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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Details of tentative agreement between Spokane, city police officers released

There is broad consensus that, in comparison to the proposed agreement voted down last year, the new proposal announced earlier this month would enhance the powers of the department’s civilian watchdog while improving officer salaries. But whether it matches the level of oversight called for in the City Charter remains up for debate.

Police body camera: Ellerman arrest

The Feb. 12, 2019 arrest of Lucas Ellerman included a police K9 being placed in the vehicle. The body camera video was released 10/30/2019.

Shawn Vestal: There’s hope for more independent oversight of Spokane police

The bad news regarding police reform in Spokane is that three years after voters demanded “independent investigations” of police misconduct, we’re still debating the meaning of “independent,” as if it is a puzzling and difficult notion. The good news is that there are signs of a re-energized push for more independence in the city’s ombudsman’s office. Part of this comes from a proposal that may be on its way toward the City Council that would attempt to untangel the ombudsman from the department’s internal affairs process. And part of it comes from the guy who is filling the ombudsman’s job right now, Bart Logue.

With Spokane police chief Frank Straub out, reforms must continue

Former Police Chief Frank Straub described his management style as direct, honest and blunt, but denied Wednesday that he had been abusive or obscene while managing sometimes difficult changes in the Spokane Police Department. Straub also said he believes a wide-ranging series of reforms and new initiatives – including federal oversight of the department’s practices and a shift toward a more precinct-oriented model of community policing – are established firmly enough that his successor can move forward with them.

Speakers favor Florida candidate for Spokane police ombudsman

Spokane residents at a public forum Tuesday expressed strong support for hiring Robert Breeden as Spokane’s new police ombudsman, but some speakers said they’d prefer the city continue the search process rather than picking one of the three finalists. Breeden is a longtime police officer who was most recently the second-in-command for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Miami office. 

Speakers favor Florida candidate for Spokane police ombudsman

Spokane residents expressed strong support for hiring Robert Breeden as Spokane’s new police ombudsman at a public forum Tuesday, but some speakers said they’d prefer the city continue the search process rather than picking one of the three finalists.

Long wait to hire Spokane police ombudsman nears end

Three finalists for Spokane’s police ombudsman will be in town this week for community interviews, signaling an end in sight for a hiring process many say has left the position vacant for too long. Since the start of the year, the Spokane Police Department has received 71 complaints and classified more than half as inquiries, meaning further investigation is not warranted, according to data provided by the department’s Office of Professional Accountability. They’ve also completed 21 Internal Affairs investigations and had three officer-involved shootings, one fatal.

Shawn Vestal: Law enforcement accountability a worthy aim

The latest report posted online by the citizens board charged with reviewing the performance of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office consists of three paragraphs. It involves the case of Will Berger, who died after a confrontation with deputies in 2013 at Oz Fitness on the South Hill. Berger’s family has sued the county for $20 million. The report of the Citizens Advisory Board, written in the form of a letter to Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, noted that the panel had reviewed the investigative files, and that it had followed up with questions that the department’s “subject matter experts” answered. None of the questions or answers was specified. The letter concluded that deputies had acted in “full compliance” with their training and department policies.

Shar Lichty to challenge Condon for Spokane mayor

Spokane Mayor David Condon gained his first challenger Tuesday in his race to be the first re-elected mayor since the era of Expo ’74. Shar Lichty, an organizer with the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane, said Monday she is running for Spokane mayor, declaring that she is “one of the people” and drawing a contrast with Condon, whom she called the “millionaire mayor.”

Shawn Vestal: Seattle Police Department lawsuit justifies reason for DOJ reforms

The Department of Justice went to Seattle and examined the police department. It determined that the department had a pattern of using excessive force and biased tactics. It imposed a series of reforms, through a court-ordered agreement in 2012 with the city leadership, that limited and more clearly defined when officers could use physical force. It established more specific limits on when a cop can hit someone with a club or shoot them. The reformed policy says when officers use physical force, it must be because the circumstances are objectively threatening and the level of the force should be proportionate to the threat.

City Council approves new Spokane police contract, oversight law

Three more months of public debate, news conferences and negotiations have led to the Spokane City Council’s approval of a new police oversight law and union contract. After unanimously rejecting a proposed Spokane Police Guild contract in November, the council approved a five-year labor contract Monday in a 6-1 vote. It also unanimously approved a law governing police officer oversight.