Spokane Mayor David Condon's first major policy decision was to give the embattled police department a chance to rebuild its relationship with the community it serves.
At a press conference at the Neva-Wood Police Substation Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Condon named Major Scott Stephens the new interim police chief.
"I'm naming Major Scott Stephens to serve as Spokane's interim police chief. We'll continue with a national search however for a permanent chief but Scott is the right choice to lead the department today," Condon said.
Condon chose a neighborhood substation for his news conference because this is where he wants to deliver better police services in the communities where we live, with police and residents working closer together to better fight crime.
Stephens practically grew up in the police department. During the past 26 years he has headed up just about every aspect of the department including the SWAT team, patrol and investigative units.
"What I'd like to stress is every decision I make will be predicated on one guiding principal and that is to provide efficient, effective and unbiased policing to the citizens of our community," Stephens said.
To make sure that happens, the mayor is considering having patrol officer wear body cameras during their calls for service. The audio and video recordings were an idea offered up by the Spokane Police Guild two years ago.
"We got to test them out and see if they work for us and we are more than happy to sit down with the mayor, the city council, the new chief at any point and time and see if we can work stuff out," John Gately with the Spokane Police Guild said.
While Major Stephens received a promotion Tuesday, others were not so lucky.
Assistant City Attorney Rocky Treppiedi, who defended the police department in misconduct complaints, has lost his position as an advisor to the department. Mayor Condon says the way Treppiedi handled the Otto Zehm case was the last straw.
"Immediately today Rocky is now longer the police advisor. I am meeting with outside counsel to discuss the civil case and who will be representing the city in the civil case," Condon said.
The mayor said he's not familiar enough with the Otto Zehm lawsuit to say if he's inclined to settle the case out of court but says resolving the matter is critical to getting his police department moving forward again.
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