‘Keep the community safe’: Violent Crimes Task Force targets repeat offenders

SPOKANE, Wash. — A new Violent Crimes Task Force is going after repeat offenders. The Spokane Police Department wants to see the people committing the most crime in the community stay in jail.

Seven officers are part of this new task force. Their job will be to track repeat offenders and follow their trial so a judge has the full story of their criminal behavior. Crime victims say a change can’t come soon enough.

“I don’t know anyone happy with the situation downtown,” said Greg Hess. He works downtown and had car window shattered.

All that’s left is a hole in his back window. The piles of glass from when it was broken are still sitting in the downtown parking lot by the Steam Plant he parks in all the time.

“My car just has a hole in the side right now, so it’s a pretty common sight down here unfortunately,” he added.

Hess has seen piles of glass from shattered windows before, but this is the first time he’s been a victim himself. He says replacing the broken window window will cost him $650. He’s frustrated about losing money but really just wants to see something change.

“Before the pandemic, downtown was totally fine, but for the last two years — the situation’s been getting worse,” Hess said.

The police know there’s a problem and were asked to start a new task force by Mayor Nadine Woodward.

“We have a very small percentage of the population that continues to repeatedly violate our laws,” said Craig Meidl, the police chief for the Spokane Police Department.

The new Violent Crimes Task Force will target that group of people and hold them accountable.

“Our goal is not only to arrest them, to protect the community and keep the community safe but also to really demonstrate to the judge, this person is doing a lot of damage,” Meidl said. “They are a big threat to the community, so that will be the goal of the task force.”

It’s a hefty goal because keeping people behind bars won’t be easy.

“It’s going to have to be a community conversation because our jail right now is just way too small,” Meidl added.

While it’s a complicated conversation, many are ready for it after having their safety shattered.

“Each of these piles of glass is someone’s vehicle that got smashed in, money that they lost,” Hess concluded.

The Spokane County jail was built to hold just under 500 inmates. Right now, there’s more than 600 people locked up. Chief Meidl says, to get that number down, the county could rent beds from other jails or ultimately build a bigger jail.

READ: Spokane mayor plans to form task force following shootings