Chief Straub shakes up, reorganizes Spokane Police Department

Maj. Frank Scalise also demoted to captain

SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub is reshuffling his command deck, demoting Assistant Chief Scott Stephens and promoting Major Craig Meidl to assistant chief.

At an 11 a.m. press conference Friday, Police Chief Frank Straub announced that Stephens was being reassigned to the rank of captain, and that Meidl was being promoted to Assistant Chief of Police, effective after the start of the year.

In addition to Stephens, Major Frank Scalise is also being reassigned to captain.

The moves are part of Straub's restructuring of the Spokane Police Department as part of a strategic vision for 2013 that the city, through its Twitter account, said would be a "model for policing in our region and beyond."

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The department's strategic vision for 2013 includes focusing police efforts on neighborhoods; the department will concentrate on eight districts across the city.

"Fundamentally that has to do with the safety of your city and how your citizens feel in their city and that they need to feel safe, that they should be expected to feel safe and how do we do that," Spokane Mayor David Condon said Friday morning.

Stephens, who served as acting chief of police during the transition between former chief Anne Kirkpatrick's retirement and Chief Straub's hiring, will now be in charge of improving training techniques within the department.

The city said that crime is not just a police problem, but a community problem that will require a collaborative effort between residents in those neighborhoods and the police officers patrolling those districts.

The number of officers assigned to patrol downtown Spokane is jumping from two to seven and under the reorganization plan, the officers who patrol the city and the detectives who investigate crimes will be working for the same leader, Commander Brad Arleth. Together the two outfits will fight crime in the neighborhoods, from block to block and house to house.

"Where are those really hot spots of crime? Who are the people driving the crime in this neighborhood right here? What are they doing, who are their associates?" Chief Straub asked, adding that his intent is to go after criminals across the city with "laser-like focus" and get rid of them.

Citing a 14-percent increase in property crimes over the past two years, Straub also plans to target the buyers of your stolen goods.

"Because those people buying stolen property in the city, we're going to take you out of commission. We're going to put you out of business. Because if the people buying stolen property have no place to sell it, there's going to be less of a reason to steal your property," Straub said.

Straub thinks this new approach to fighting crime can make a difference.

"What we've looking for is not crime down by one or two percent, what we really want to see is crime going down, so instead of going up next year what you're gonna see is crime taking a significant decrease," he said.