Commission’s Wish List: 26 Changes In Spokane Police Department

By Paige Browning

Thursday the City of Spokane and the police department were given a wish list of sorts, of over two dozen policies or changes for them to implement.  The Use of Force commission released their report after meeting on the topic for eleven months.
 
Commission chair Earl “Marty” Martin explained the four topics of recommendation: culture, department policies and practices, civilian oversight, and city administration. 

Use of Force Commission members. Photo by Paige Browning.Martin said the police department needs to be clear in its values in all that it does.
 
Martin: “It has become apparent to us over the course of our work that a significant number of Spokane citizens lack trust in their police department.  The commission’s position is that greater transparency in the department would go a long way towards rebuilding that relationship.  Some of our recommendations that attempt to address that issue include our second recommendation, to bring greater transparency to the city’s negotiations with the Spokane Police Guild and the Spokane Police Lieutenants and Captains Association.”

The commission gave 26 recommendations overall.  Including, that officers wear body cameras, and that the department look into standardizing the weapons carried by officers.  They recommend that the police ombudsman have the independent authority to investigate the department, or any police case.  

Use of Force Commission members. Photo by Paige Browning.

Police Chief Frank Straub. Photo by Paige Browning.They also suggested conducting a culture audit of the SPD, spefically, to look at the overall work environment, unwritten rules, and barriers to effective work practices.
 
New Chief of Police Frank Straub was pleased to note that his department has already implemented some of the recommendations, including training staff in Crisis Intervention Training.  But, Straub says there is a correlation between actual use of force, and the number of officers available.
 
Straub: "You know I’ve said publicly before that I think our numbers are too low.  We need more police officers.  I’m confident that as 2013 goes forward we will have meaningful conversations about what is the right number of officers.”
 
The commissions report is a draft at this point, with public comment is welcome until January 30th. The commission will hold two public meetings, on January 16th and the 30th.  The final version will be submitted to the Mayor shortly after.

Copyright 2012 Spokane Public Radio


Police Chief Frank Straub. Photo by Paige Browning.
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