Spokane Mayor announces new East Central police space

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SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane Police officers will soon occupy the former East Central Library, Mayor Nadine Woodward announced Thursday.

Officers originally worked out at a small space on the lower South Hill, but will now use the building across from the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.

The MLK Center, East Central Neighborhood Council, and East Sprague Business Association expressed support for housing police resources at this location.

“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.”

The city owns the former library building, and Woodward made the decision to move police there based on community feedback, public safety considerations, and police operational needs.

The city identified the former library location as a police precinct at the request of the MLK Center more than three years ago.

Future plans for the East Central building include co-locating behavioral health services with the police department.

The model is based on a successful partnership between police and behavioral health specialists at its downtown location to bring critical services to people in crisis. That partnership contacted 4,090 people in crisis, a nearly 10-percent increase over the previous year. Of those encounters, 0.8 percent were arrested and more than 4,500 calls were diverted from patrol and freed up those officers to respond to other needs.

The City is pursuing a similar pilot program in Hillyard and exploring an opportunity in the West Central neighborhood.

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