Council questions mayor's Use of Force implementation plan

Published On: Feb 18 2013 03:33:56 PM PST
Mayor David Condon discusses Use of Force implementation
SPOKANE, Wash. -

Tools, training, and technology; that's what Spokane Mayor David Condon says the police department needs to address longstanding use of force issues.

The $1 million pricetag for all of that, and exactly where the money will come from, are just some of the questions being asked by city council.

City councilman John Snyder, chairman of the council's Public Safety Committee, wants to see change in the police department, but he wants it done right. If the mayor's plan is passed by the city council, that will mean paying for it with money from the city's reserve fund.

"Whenever you spend a million dollars, you want to make sure you are spending it on the right things," said Snyder.

According to Mayor Condon and Police Chief Frank Straub, 'the right things' include new collapsible batons, smaller tasers, and dashboard cameras.

"We can't be in the business of waiting, we have to be in the business of making progress everyday to improve the practices of the police department. So, yes, it's an expenditure of funds, but I think it is a worthwhile expenditure of funds," said Straub.

The U.S. Department of Justice is helping the Use of Force Commission to implement change in the department. That includes teaching officers better ways to de-escalate situations, as well as implementing a new state of the art firearms training system.

"One of the big issues is training around how we use force, so the training simulation allows us to do that," said Straub.

Snyder remains cautious about spending that much on new technology, and wonders if adding numbers to the force, might be a better use of funds.

"The high tech expenditures listed in the mayor's press release could have great promise for law enforcement in the city of Spokane, but at some point we have to look at how much personnel we have out in the streets. Even the best high tech additions to the police department can't always make up for personnel," said Snyder.

Condon's plan still has to go before the Public Safety Committee before being heard by the full council. The Department of Justice will be here Wednesday to work with leadership in the Spokane Police Department.