Spokane City Council President lays out ideas for police reform

Breean Beggs posted a list of 17 ideas council members are discussing

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane City Council President Breean Beggs says police reform is a top priority for council members. He posted a list of 17 ideas the council is considering.

1. Empower OPO (Office of Police Ombudsman) to publish non-disciplinary closing reports to comply with the City Charter.

2. Empower OPO to conduct independent non-disciplinary investigations to comply with the City Charter.

3. Renew online publication of all Internal Affairs Investigations with names redacted.

4. Post online all responsive records to all public records requests so that all community members can more easily review the records requested by any other person.

5. Audio record and publish online all police Administrative Review, Use of Force and Deadly Use of Force Panels.

6. Release body camera video within 45 days of request unless there is a current criminal investigation- don’t withhold video during internal affairs investigations per Washington Supreme Court precedent- Sargent v. City of Seattle.

7. Co-deploy 4-6 more behavior health interventionists with patrol officers using currently unused public safety levy dollars.

8. Change City Attorney to an independent position appointed by council for seven year term and only removable for cause during that term.

9. Remove accepted use of force category of “Exceptional Tactics,” which is currently used to justify departure from existing use of force policies.

10. Remove neck restraint/pressure techniques except as a justified use of deadly force.

11. Remove intentional dog bites by K-9 units except as a justified use of deadly force.

12. Conduct robust community conversation process and implement their recommendations regarding use of force policies.

13. Restrict use of armored vehicles to conditions where officers are at imminent risk of gunfire.

14. Restrict use of firing rubber bullets to defensive actions.

15. Publish rules of engagement with large crowds ahead of time so demonstrators and officers know what to expect if things become unruly.

16. Police collect and annually report the data elements on race specified in RCW 43.43.480.

17. Remove qualified immunity as a defense when the City of Spokane is paying for legal defense costs and has indemnified a city employee acting in the course of their duties.

Beggs received applause from a group of protesters outside Spokane City Hall Monday when he came outside to answer questions.

“I think this is a moment and I don’t think people are just saying that. It is a moment, everyone’s attention is here across the nation, and really, hats off to the people that have been demonstrating and rallying for justice,” Beggs said.

He also thanked protesters for remaining peaceful and praised Spokane Police officers for how they handled Sunday’s protest. Officers were on bikes, not in riot gear.

Beggs was asked how he felt about SPD’s response May 31 as windows were shattered in downtown Spokane.

“I’ve talked to police officers who had objects thrown at them and they were scared and I understand that,” Beggs said. “But the part that was challenging to me from video— and again not being there— was watching the tear gassing in Riverfront Park and I just— I didn’t understand that.”

Council members will be voting on a Police Guild contract soon. Beggs said the men and women of the Spokane Police Department deserve to be treated fairly, paid well, and be supported.