Two front-runners have emerged in the search for the next Spokane police chief, however one panel has decided none of the candidates are qualified and are asking Mayor David Condon to continue his search.
KXLY4 sources say panels that interviewed the three finalists gave the highest marks to Frank Straub of Indianapolis and Daniel Mahoney of the San Francisco Police Department.
However the Law Enforcement Panel, made up of past and present law enforcement leaders from across the region, decided none of the candidates were qualified. Among the members of that panel who want Condon to continue searching for a qualified candidate are former Spokane Police Chief Roger Bragdon, acting Spokane Police Chief Scott Stephens, former US Marshal Mike Kline, Spokane sector Chief Border Patrol Agent Gloria Chavez, Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg, Spokane Tribal Police Chief Claude Cox and Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.
It was obvious to people who watched the candidate interviews at city hall that Straub and Mahoney were able to give specific examples of how they had dealt with some of the problems facing our police department. Now it's a matter of what type of chief the mayor is looking for.
"We all have to be fair, professional, ethical and competent. Our number one job is public service my standard line is it's not public entitlement. It's public service," Mahoney said during his interview.
Mahoney knew about our recent upswing in violence downtown and knew what crime-busting tactics had worked for him in San Francisco, where he serves as the commander of the Ingleside Police Station.
"Any time you have [an] increase in violence that calls for a two-pronged approach. It calls for an immediate response and then it calls for preventative education for how other people not to become [a] victim," he said.
Frank Straub was recruited by Mayor Condon for his experience with metro policing, but Straub also conceded that sometimes mistakes are made in fast-paced police work and that sometimes departments have to offer apologies.
"You have to find the biggest critics of the police department and engage them in the process, you can't run away from your critics. Instead you have to engage them and listen to their concerns," Straub said.
Straub also said he feels winning the war against crime starts with our kids by shaping their perceptions of police and staying with in the limits of the law.
"We need to be in the schools. I think that is critically important. We need to connect with our young people, really from late grammar school, middle school and high school and have that connection," he said.
Some of the panels made specific recommendations to the mayor. One group wrote if city hall seeks reform he should offer the job to Straub. If the mayor thinks healing the community is important then he should hire Mahoney for his people skills.
The third candidate, George Markert, a former deputy chief for the Rochester, New York Police Department, gave answers so brief the panel ran out of questions.
Mayor Condon has indicated an interest in flying to one or several cities to gather more information about the finalists. He could release his travel itinerary, which will confirm the front-runners for chief of police, as early as Wednesday.