City leaders create a new step to deal with SPD complaints



Posted on December 4, 2013 at 7:20 PM

SPOKANE, Wash.--Spokane City leaders announced another step to provide an independent review of complaints about the Spokane Police Department.

City leaders are trying to meet the requirements voted by the public to have an outside group look over investigations of City officers.  City leaders said this is as far as it can go to give the public what it wants.

The Mayor of Spokane said his plan would be the highest level of public involvement to watch over police complaints in Washington State. The City of Spokane has had an ombudsman for years to review internal investigations and sit in on interviews for police complaints.

Voters approved giving that position more independent investigative authority. The change to City policy also created a commission to oversee investigations.

The City Council rejected the mayor’s plan in November. They wanted the ombudsman to be more independent.

The Mayor said the ombudsman will report to a separate commission than him. It is a move the police union supports.

"We helped select this ombudsman, we helped create the commission in the ordinance, in the TA, I don't know how anybody can say we're holding up the process. We've been involved from the very beginning,” said Officer John Gately with the Spokane Police Department.

If voters and the council do not like the changes then City leaders said they have reached their limit.

The police chief said the department has improved dramatically in the past 12 months and deserves more credit for the progress it has made.

"After 9/11, when we applauded our public safety people, the police officers, the firefighters, the EMTs, well I think we need to applaud the men and women who work for this city a little bit more often,” said Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub.

The Spokane City Council will have its first chance to review the ordinance a week from Monday.