Final four candidates vie for Spokane Police Chief job

Right now the candidates for Spokane Police chief are answering questions from the public about why they are the best fit to lead Spokane's department.

SPOKANE, Wash. - The remaining four candidates for the top Spokane Police job did the media rounds on Tuesday, highlighting their positions on issues facing the community.

The current interim chief is Craig Meidl, who has been with SPD since 1994. He was not in the initial pool of candidates, but became the surprise interim chief when Mayor David Condon appointed him last month.

The City Council disputed the move after Condon did not get their confirmation, so both sides agreed to start the process over.

Bob Lehner, the chief of the Elk Grove Police Department in California was one of the original two candidates. Tuesday marked the second time he has been interviewed. He is retiring from his position in California in October, he says, regardless of what happens here.

“I'm willing to stay until the job of stabilizing the Spokane Police Department is done and the reason I put it in those terms is that it depends on what kind of cultural change and how hard it is as to how long it's going to take that may take more than one chief if it's significant ok?” said Lehner on Tuesday. “But, I will stay as long as it's necessary to complete the job for which I've been hired…in both of my previous jobs, I met my commitment before I left.”

Meidl is the only internal candidate and said he believes it is helpful to hire someone who knows the city.

“It does add a certain amount of credibility, they understand you've been there... other candidates may not have coming in,” Meidl said.

“But, if you're looking for a change in the culture.... that's hard to do with an internal candidate,” argued Lehner.

KREM 2 also asked the candidates how they would build community trust.

Dominic Rizzi the current police chief in Yakima says he has a history of building trust and implementing programs to connect with the community.

“What the community is looking for is honest open dialogue,” said Rizzi. “They want to have input, they want to be able air their grievances, they want to talk about what the issues are and if nobody will talk to them, then it looks like there's cover up or hiding and we can't do that.”

The newcomer to the race, John Bruce, who is the chief at the Frisco Police Department in Texas, spoke to his management style, saying he plans to treat everyone fairly.

“I think I have something to offer Spokane, I believe that I can be a good leader here and become the next chief and help the department have some stability and good leadership to set the tone and direction and then ensure that the officers are well trained,” said Bruce. “And once you do that I'm going to have to trust that they know what they're doing.”

Former Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub resigned almost exactly a year ago, an act that prompted an internal investigation

Candidates answered public questions at a community meeting on Tuesday night.

(© 2016 KREM)


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