SPOKANE, Wash. - The City of Spokane's Use of Force Commission released its initial recommendations to improve the Spokane Police Department (SPD) on Thursday afternoon. The recommendations include a culture audit, more independent authority for the police ombudsman, and body cameras for officers, to name a few examples.
The draft report is the culmination of months of research, consultations, interviews, and citizen input to improve the department's use of force policy as well as bolster trust within in the community.
The commission was formed in January at the request of Mayor David Condon in order to consider new ways to handle use of force issues following the investigation into former Spokane Police Officer Karl Thompson Jr. for the beating of Otto Zehm. Thompson was sentenced last month for using excessive force in Zehm's death as well as lying to investigators to cover up the crimes.
In a press briefing Thursday, Use of Force Commission Chair Earl "Marty" Martin identified 26 recommendations for the department, which it broke down into four categories. The first is to improve upon the culture of the department, including conducting a culture audit and re-writing SPD's mission statement. The second is to work on policies and practices like improving upon officer training at all staff levels. The third category is to improve citizen oversight. Finally, the fourth category calls for changes in the way city administrators interact with the police force.
Martin said the recommendations were listed in order of how they arose within the commission and does not reflect their level of importance.
Martin was also careful to point out that these recommendations should not distract from what commission leaders described as a hard-working, professional, and brave police department. Rather, Martin said, these recommendations were designed to improve the department.
USE OF FORCE COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS:
Recommendation #1 - Conduct a culture audit of the SPD.
Recommendation #2 - Bring greater transparency to the City's negotiations with the Spokane Police Guild and the Spokane Police Lieutenants and Captains Association.
Recommendation #3 - Rewrite the SPD Mission Statement.
Recommendation #4 - The SPD should secure WASPC accreditation.
Recommendation #5 - Ensure corporate ownership of the SPD Policy Manual.
Recommendation #6 - Explicitly link SPD Canons and Ethical Standards to hiring decisions and all force management actions.
B. SPD Policies and Practices
Recommendation #7 - The Chief of Police and his command staff should actively engage the community in an ongoing dialogue about the department.
Recommendation #8 - Ensure complete understanding of the governing legal standards for the use of force.
Recommendation #9 - Update and maintain certifications of the department's defensive tactics instructors.
Recommendation #10 - Review current officer staffing levels and practices to ensure that sufficient patrol officers are available to maintain public safety.
Recommendation #11 - Improve training plans and practices.
Recommendation #12 - Establish a continuing Crisis Intervention Training program and adopt protocols for the deployment of CIT officers.
Recommendation #13 - Affirm the de-escalation of potentially violent encounters as a primary goal of the department.
Recommendation #14 - Improve the use of force reporting system.
Recommendation #15 - Improve investigation practices in use of force incidents.
Recommendation #16 - Improve the administrative review of the use of deadly force by officers.
Recommendation #17 - Create and deploy a fully developed Early Intervention System.
Recommendation #18 - Equip officers with body cameras.
Recommendation #19 - Explore standardizing the weapons carried by officers in the line of duty.
C. Citizen Oversight
Recommendation #20 - Invest the Office of the Police Ombudsman with the authority and discretion to open and conduct independent investigations concerning the operations, actions, or omissions of the SPD.
Recommendation #21a - All City employees and those acting on behalf of the City should be required to cooperate fully and truthfully with the Office of the Police Ombudsman.
Recommendation #21b - Subject to legal privilege, the Office of the Police Ombudsman should be given full, unrestricted, and complete access to any and all City information, files, evidence, or other material which the Ombudsman deems necessary to the performance of his/her duties.
Recommendation #22 - Create a Citizen Advisory Board for the Office of the Police Ombudsman.
D. City Administration
Recommendation #23 - The Mayor should maintain an active and visible role in SPD oversight and administration, and in promoting the department to the community.
Recommendation #24 - The City Attorney's Office should maintain separation of duties and functions between litigation support, employment law representation, and police legal advising.
Recommendation #25 - The CAO should adopt strict policies and procedures that ensure the office maintains appropriate distance from all criminal prosecutions of SPD personnel.
Recommendation #26 - The CAO should take an active role in the development and updating of the SPD's use of force policies, and the department's use of force training materials and program.
The full report is available on the city's web site at www.spokanecity.org <http://www.spokanecity.org>.
PUBLIC COMMISSION MEETINGS:
* Wednesday, Jan. 16, from 2 to 4 p.m. in the council chambers in the lower level of City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.
This meeting also will be shown live on City cable 5 and on the city's web site at www.spokanecity.org. The meeting also will be replayed on City cable 5 on Sunday, Jan. 20, at 1 p.m.; Monday, Jan. 21, at 8:30 p.m.; Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 12:30 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 27 at 9 a.m.
* Wednesday, Jan. 30, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Northeast Community Center, 4001 N. Cook. Citizens may send their comments to email@example.com.
Comments are due by Jan. 30.
MAYOR, CHIEF STRATEGIC PLAN BRIEFING:
Spokane Mayor David Condon and Police Chief Frank Straub will hold a news briefing today, Friday, Dec. 21, at 11 a.m. to discuss a new strategic plan for the Spokane Police Department. The briefing will be held in the Mayor's office on the 7th floor of City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.