City Of Spokane Press Release:
SPOKANE, Wash. - In light of concerns expressed by City Council Members and other citizens, Spokane Mayor David Condon today is announcing that he will retain Police Ombudsman Tim Burns through the end of 2012, past his contract expiration date, to help smooth the transition to an enhanced model of civilian oversight for police. Burns' three-year contract expires this Friday, Aug. 24. Council President Ben Stuckart confirmed that the City Council will take action at its regular meeting tonight, Aug. 20, to authorize the continuation.
"We are on track to enhance civilian oversight of the Spokane Police Department, and this new timeline will allow for greater discussion and thoughtfulness," says Mayor Condon. "I want to work with the Council and the community to develop the best path forward."
Enhancing civilian oversight was one of four priorities outlined in the Mayor's Immediate Police Action Plan, which was released early this year. Among other things, the plan calls for pursuing independent investigative authority for civilian oversight of Police.
Work already under way will help inform the process. The Mayor is awaiting recommendations from the Use of Force Commission on oversight, and he expects to name a new Police Chief by the end of the month. Additionally, current negotiations with the Police Guild include the topic of enhanced oversight.
Under the City's Ombudsman ordinance, the ombudsman is hired for a three-year term. After that, the City has the option of appointing an ombudsman to a second and final term or seeking out a new individual to serve in that role. Burns was appointed to the position in 2009 and was the first person to hold the position of police ombudsman for the City of Spokane.