What Spokane residents, businesses want from next police chief

SPOKANE, Wash. - While Mayor David Condon announced his qualifications for finding Spokane's next chief of police, city residents and businesses alike have their own ideas on what will make a good police chief for the Lilac City.

A city can change a lot in 125 years: New roads, new businesses, new challenges. The family that has owned Dodson's Jewelry for all that time has seen it all.

"A lot of chiefs and a lot of crime," Dodson's owner Penn Fix said.

Fix has welcomed countless customers to his jewelry store. He's also had a few crooks try to rob him.

The talk of a new police chief reminds him of former chief Terry Mangan, who started in 1987. Fix said Mangan was a model for what the city should be looking for.

"We need someone who is not going to take sides, but is going to do what's fair for everybody," he said.

While downtown businesses want more emphasis patrols to crack down on crimes in the city center, Spokane residents want the police force to tackle property crime and violent crime.

Public reaction to police chief finalists

Shelly Gleason, who works downtown, said she hopes the new chief will crack down on the kids who hang out downtown after dark and assault people and vandalize buildings.

"I hope they amp up their presence in downtown Spokane. We notice there are a lot of kids hanging out all the time that destroy the parking lots, they destroy the areas around downtown," Gleason said.

Andrew Berger wants whoever is selected to be the next chief of police to be an open book, saying the new chief needs to be, "[s]omeone who will bring some accountability to the office, some transparency, someone who will let people know what's going on as far as complaints and things like that."

At the Center for Justice -- the advocate for police accountability -- Tom Connor -- wants the new chief to be more transparent. He said that Scott Stephens has done a good job as interim chief and hopes he'll work with the new chief to help in the transition.

Connor also likes that one of the candidates -- George Markert -- is the director of a department focused on complaints and issues with corruption.

"No question that it has to be a strong well-oriented police chief who's seriously committed to reforming not just the practices in the Spokane Police Department, but the culture as well," Connor said.

No matter if its downtown business owners or South Hill residents, everyone is hoping for something better from the next chief of police. The consensus among some is they are glad the finalists all have one thing in common: None of the finalists have ever served in the Spokane Police Department, which several said Wednesday is important for a city learning to trust it's police force once again.