SPOKANE, Wash. – Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl recently spoke with the New York Times in support of a policing program that dates back to the Obama administration.
Back in September, the Trump Administration announced it would scale back the program. The idea was to focus more on cracking down on violent crime, not regulating the police departments that fight it.
At the end of 2012, the Spokane Police Department reached out to the Department of Justice to help reform things like training, policies, procedures and use of force. It was a collaborative process that resulted in several recommendations our police department implemented. Meidl said a lot of good changes came about thanks to their partnership with the Department of Justice.
"That basically will flag officers if they cross a threshold of use of force, complaints, pursuits, collisions, and it doesn't mean they necessarily did anything wrong, it just means this person is outside what's a normal threshold," Meidl said.
Spokane was the second police department in the nation to voluntarily take part in the collaborative reform process. Instead of a one size fits all for police departments across the country, recommendations were tailored to fit each departments' needs.
“They didn't just come out with here's how you do it, go forward, and now every agency follows it, that's not realistic. What they said is each agency is different, each community is different so we're going to come in and work with you on what will fit your community," Meidl explained.
But under new policy, that process is changing.
"Now, they're not going to come in and tell you what you need to work on. They're going to have departments tell them, ‘We need help in this area, we don't have the resources. Can you please help us with resources,’" Meidl said.
The process is a little more hands off because the Department of Justice will not get involved until a department asks for help. Since Spokane was one of the first to benefit from the process, Chief Meidl was interviewed about the changes in The New York Times.
"To have a national organization recognize the things that we have achieved has been a real great recognition of not just the Spokane police department, but the Spokane community," he said.
The police department was also supposed to get a final report now that they have gone through the collaborative reform process but, because of the policy change, they are not getting one. Chief Meidl said he plans to have his staff complete their own report to have a complete picture of how things are working.