City leaders to create board for ombudsman advisory board

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by SHAWN CHITNIS & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on April 28, 2014 at 5:41 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 28 at 7:53 PM

SPOKANE, Wash.-- City of Spokane leaders were looking for people at the end of April to sit on an independent commission that an ombudsman would report to.

City leaders said five people would be on the board and have the final say on holding the Spokane Police Department accountable. The leaders said they expected plenty of applicants for the board. They said they wanted people on the board who would represent all members of the community.

People thinking of applying said it is important that the people on the board are aggressive and use their power to hold SPD in line.

An ombudsman position was created in 2008 to look over complaints against the Spokane Police Department. Leaders voted for the ombudsman position to have more power in 2013.

"If I was a police officer in Spokane, I would want good oversight because I would want a system that ensures the public that we have overcome the culture of violence,” said Deb Conklin, an applicant for the commission.

 There would be five members on the board that the ombudsman would report to. City Council leaders would pick three of the members and the Mayor would pick two.

“Having a diversity of viewpoint, inclusive of all voices and members of the community is important for the commission to be taken seriously,” said City of Spokane attorney Nancy Isserlis.

Some of the people looking to join the commission said it is important to change the image of SPD.

"The police were a people you went to as a child, if you needed help, you found your corner police officer,” said Isserlis.

You must be a citizen in Spokane, be at least 21-years-old and not have a felony on your record in the past seven years in order to apply to be on the commission. You would also need to complete a background check.

"I think instead of having too few, we may have too many to choose from, that's my hope that we have a long list to choose from,” said Isserlis.

City leaders were set to have another meeting about the ombudsman commission on Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. They hoped to have members of the board selected by middle July.

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