Spokane City Council approves two resolutions for East Central police precinct

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane City Council approved two resolutions to move a police precinct to Sprague in the East Central Neighborhood.

The resolutions were approved with two 4-2 votes. They were co-sponsored by Council President Breean Beggs and Councilmember Betsy Wilkerson.

This comes after Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward moved officers into the old into the former East Central Library, which was met with criticism from City Council members who thought the precinct would be better in a different part of the neighborhood.

READ: ‘Where’s the transparency?’ Mayor, Council at opposite ends of new East Central police precinct

The first resolution specified a community engagement process and timeline for leasing the former East Central Library building. The second resolution approved the new location of the precinct, specifically the East Sprague corridor, no later than January 1st.

“Under these proposals, the East Central Neighborhood can get a medical or mental health clinic on the community center campus AND a new police precinct in the part of the neighborhood where most of the crime occurs and is needed,” said Council President Breean Beggs.

Councilmember Wilkerson was the first to suggest the move to Sprague.

“This puts in place a process for getting community engagement from the people who live in East Central,” said Council Member Betsy Wilkerson.  “It gives the ability for our community to possibly have a medical clinic and a police precinct; that is both critically needed.”

The community equally pushed for both sides of the resolutions though, as some though the East Central Library was a good location for the precinct.

“I implore you to keep the police precinct and the Cop Shop in the library on 5th avenue. It just makes sense to keep it there for ease of access to the community,” said East Central Neighborhood Councilmember Debby Ryan.

Councilmembers Michael Cathcart and Jonathan Bingle were the two who voted against the resolutions.

“I think that’s pretty telling, without giving people options, the responses that came in were we would like police and we would like precincts,” Bingle said.

“If this said immediate, if this said tomorrow we will have a police precinct, tomorrow we’re buying a building? Yeah, sure, fine, I’m agnostic, but we don’t have the money and we don’t have the time, so I can’t support this,” Cathcart said.

With multiple medical facilities expressing interest in the former East Central Library location, Beggs offered a solution to have both.

“We can use the rent that we’re going to charge for a social service or a medical clinic on East Sprague and it’s probably going to be cheaper rent on East Sprague because it’s a smaller footprint, so what you get is a two for one,” he said.

Next week, the council plans to vote on an emergency ordinance to make sure all the locations of major city infrastructure would go through city council, including police precincts.

Police officers at the East Central Library precinct will move once the City Council selects a suitable location on the East Sprague Corridor.