City Council member wants more police officers in Northeast Spokane

SPOKANE, Wash. — It’s getting harder to run a business in Hillyard these days; just ask Melissa Niece.

She’s the owner of Vintage Mercantile & Auction, which is a shop she’s owned for about a year now. She said the shop is becoming a hub for the homeless to linger around.

“I kind of fear for my own safety if I go out there and say ‘okay it’s time to move on’,” Niece said.

That’s where the lack of police presence is hurting her business. She said it took three calls and a total of 45 minutes for officers to respond to a distressed man right outside her shop.

“It’s the common joke around here, like if you call in and you better hope you don’t need anything, because it’s going to be 45 minutes to an hour before we get any response whatsoever,” Niece said.

That’s why City Council member Michael Cathcart wants to utilize the Cop Shop on Market Street in Hillyard more as a northeast precinct. He’s asking to see more officers on the ground interacting with businesses and people. Niece said that’s not happening right now.

“We see detectives and officers driving by on a regular basis, but nobody stops in to say hi or ‘Let’s chat and see how we can help in any way,'” Niece said.

Spokane Police has been open to an increased approach, but resources may be a problem.

Cathcart said he’s aware of that, but he believes a pilot program can at least be started by reallocating some city funds.

“Northeast Spokane, District 1, Hillyard, we’ve notoriously been under resourced and under-served in a number of ways,” Cathcart said.

He said once a pilot program begins, then he would allow Chief Craig Meidl to decide how many officers or how much resources are necessary for the program.

Cathcart also said he has met with Chief Meidl about these plans, and he’s optimistic those conversations will continue.