SPOKANE, Wash. - The Spokane City Council voted Monday to give the Mayor more power to hire and remove top administrators in several city departments. The move was driven by Police Chief Frank Straub's proposed reorganization and a use of force commission recommendation to change the department's culture. The changes will also affect the Spokane Fire Department. At one point there was talk that there might be 26 new managers between police and fire, but the reality is there will only be four new directors in police and there will not be any in the fire department.
Police Chief Frank Straub compared the move to when someone takes over a big company like "IBM." He said when they start they get to assemble their management team and bring in or promote whoever they feel will do the best job. In the SPD, Straub says there are many things that could stop him from promoting the people he believes would be best qualified. The passage gives him the opportunity to form a team that is similar to the private sector in the sense where he can hire whoever will do the best job.
Chief Straub is confident with the new director positions available he will be able to change the direction of the director positions based on the need at the time. He says that is not a luxury he had with positions that had to go through civil service.
This flexibility allows him to hire and replace people if they are not right for the director position. He said some people are great street cops, but they might not do well in a management type role. He says now he can figure that out and if they aren't working out he can replace them. If he replaces them, most of the soon to be appointed directors can then go back to their old role. In the end Frank Straub said even after these appointments there are only six departments heads leading a police force of 275 officers and 90 civilian staff.
On the fire side their organization is in place and will not be changed for the foreseeable future. As of right now they are not appointing anyone because everyone is already in place, but down the road they might make changes and they too are supportive of the ordinance that was passed on Monday night.