Rank And File Vote In Favor Of Ombudsman

SPOKANE – The rank and file of the Spokane Police Department have voted to allow more oversight of their activities.

On Friday during a series of roll calls Spokane police officers voted overwhelmingly to have an outsider begin reviewing the way officers lay down the law.

“We don’t have anything to hide and we’re willing to show the citizens and the city leadership that,” Spokane Police Corporal Jon Strickland.

Pending city council approval an indepedant ombudsman will now have access to all critical incident and deadly force investigations. The ombudsman will also have the authority to sit in and ask questions during all internal affairs interviews and will take complaints from the public directly to Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.

Breean Beggs of the Center for Justice is a vocal critic of the police department’s handling of recent high-profile events like the death of Otto Zehm and last year’s Fourth of July confrontation between police and protesters in Riverfront Park. Beggs sees the ombudsman initiative as a step in the right direction to bridging the gap between the community and the police.

“Police oversight is extremely important here,” Beggs said. “The relationship between the police and the community is somewhat broken and the community is looking for the assurance of independent oversight to heal that relationship.”

If and when the ombudsman feels the department is failing to holds its officers accountable for their actions they are authorized to report their findings to the mayor and it will be up to city leadership to decide whether or not the department needs to take more action to manage the force.