OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE FROM THE CITY OF SPOKANE: Spokane Mayor David Condon has announced a plan to implement the recommendations of the Use of Force Commission that includes technical assistance and support from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office.
“We are committed to making changes that will improve public trust and confidence in our Police Department; that goal has not changed since I took office more than a year ago,” says Mayor Condon. “The Use of Force Commission has provided us with a comprehensive list of recommendations on how to make our department better, and we will follow through and implement those actions.”
Chief Frank Straub has developed an implementation plan and timeline for the action items laid out by the Commission. Most of the work will be completed in 2013.
Importantly, the U.S. Department of Justice’s COPS program has agreed to provide technical assistance to the SPD as part of the implementation plan. The COPS program will provide a plan on how to conduct Use of Force investigations and complete a cultural diagnostic of the SPD. The SPD will be required to implement the recommendations made by the COPS program. Representatives from DOJ are expected to be in Spokane this month to gather information and will consider use of force cases going back four years.
Meanwhile, the Police Department will proceed with the Commission’s other recommendations.
The work will require a significant investment by the City.
The Mayor will request that the City Council approve the use of $1 million from the City’s reserve accounts to pay for investments in:
- Tools: These include new collapsible batons, smaller tasers, and dashboard cameras.
- Training: Training will be added on de-escalation, officer-involved shootings, crisis intervention, internal affairs, use of new equipment, and more.
- Technology: Among other things, investments are proposed in a new firearms training system (called VirTra) and improved internal affairs software.
Additionally, the department will review and revise policies, become more transparent in its operations, and seek accreditation, among other things.
The Use of Force Commission recommendations are consistent with the work the department completed in the last year that was detailed in the Mayor’s Immediate Police Action Plan. Work under that plan has either been completed or is included with the actions recommended by the Use of Force Commission.
Additionally, the department is working under a new strategic plan that was released in late December. That plan provides an overarching direction and serves as a guide to the future for the Spokane Police Department. It is designed to create a more responsive organization focused on reducing crime and enhancing community safety. The plan is available on the SPD’s website at www.spokanepolice.org/documents/MakingSpokaneASaferCity.pdf
The Use of Force Commission released its draft report in late December. With its charge of broadly considering the issue of police use of force, the Commission developed 26 recommendations divided into four topical areas: culture, Spokane Police Department policies and practices, civilian oversight, and city administration.
The report is the result of a nearly year-long process that included nine public meetings, multiple interviews, on-site visits, consultation with experts, the development of two additional reports by specialized consultants, and significant work to engage citizens in the process. The Commission accepted public comments on its draft report through the end of January. A final report is anticipated soon.