Police 5-Year Plan Changes Department Hierarchy, Zooms In On Danger Zones

By Paige Browning

The Spokane Police Department is taking its first big steps on a journey to reduce crime and improve overall department functioning.  Friday the Chief of Police released a five year strategic plan that includes major changes in the hierarchy of the police force. 
Police Chief Frank Straub (r) and other officers discuss 5 year plan. Photo by Paige Browning.New Chief Frank Straub made bold commitments for 2013, like placing body cameras on each officer, and obtaining state accreditation for the department.
Straub: “Crime has been going up in the city of Spokane.  That can’t happen. If we were a private sector business looking at our profit margin, sales have to go up, they can’t go down.  Well for us the converse is true.  Crime can’t go up, it has to go down.”

The police department will redirect the efforts of patrol officers and detectives to focus specifically on high crime areas.  As part of this, nine officers will patrol downtown, a boost from the current two.  Straub says the department needs more officers.  There are currently 273, and he suggests 300, more or less. The mayor’s 2013 budget cut 19 officer spots.  Mayor Condon said Friday he was not comfortable asking to increase personnel without making sure the current officers were used effectively.
Also on the horizon are changes in the organizational structure.  With Straub as chief, interim chief Scott Stephens returns to his role as captain.  Major Craig Meidl will take over as assistant chief.

Straub says the department has been distracted with things like the Otto Zehm and Karl Thompson case, and they will now work on restoring trust in the department by reducing crime.
Copyright 2012 Spokane Public Radio
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