SPOKANE, Wash. — Mayor Nadine Woodward announced Thursday that Spokane police officers will start working out of the former East Central Library on Friday, July 1.
According to a press release from the City of Spokane, officers who previously worked out of a small, donated space at St. Ann's Church on the lower South Hill will serve the East Central neighborhood from the former library location.
The MLK Center, East Central Neighborhood Council, the East Sprague Business Association, and neighbors visited by SPD expressed their support for the new location. The space also gained momentum after ThoughtExchange, a virtual community, discussed their support with City Council in December.
“Neighbors have overwhelmingly welcomed police officers working in their neighborhood,” Woodward said. “This gives officers the opportunity to expand the community policing model and get to know their neighbors on a more meaningful level.”
Ultimately, Woodward decided to move the police to this location based on community feedback and support, public safety considerations and police operational needs.
The City of Spokane says that the Spokane Public Library transferred the asset to City ownership as part of a partnership arrangement that resulted in the construction of the new library branch at Liberty Park.
According to the release, the City identified the former library location as a police precinct after the MLK Center requested it more than three years ago.
The City says co-locating behavioral health services with the police department remains planned for the East Central location. This model is based on a successful partnership between police and behavioral health specialists at its downtown location, which brings critical services to people in crisis and provide resources for other calls.
The partnership reportedly called 4,090 people in crisis, which was a 10% increase from the previous year. According to the City, of those encounters,0.8% were arrested and more than 4,500 calls were diverted from patrol and freed up those officers to respond to other needs.
The City reported that they are also looking into a similar pilot program in Hillyard and exploring an opportunity in the West Central neighborhood.
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