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Cultural audit of Spokane Police released

Cultural audit of Spokane Police...

SPOKANE, Wahsh. - If you feel unappreciated where you work and think there's not enough employees on staff, then you know how Spokane Police Officers feel about their jobs.

Graduate students from Gonzaga University's Leadership Studies Program did hundreds of surveys and interviews last fall.

Both police and civilian employees had a chance to spill their guts about morale and demeanor issues, that stuff that can “lead” to inappropriate uses of force.

The audit was launched to determine if there's a culture within the Spokane Police Department that lends itself to racism or abusive behavior.

But Dr. Joann Barbour of Gonzaga University says Spokane cops are mostly hard on each other, especially about being brave and honest enough to wear a badge.

“You're a person of integrity, you're an honest person, and you're a trustworthy person,” said Barbour. “It's part of the job, as we understood it. It's part of what a police officer is expected to do s owe don't want to work with people who don't have that.”

Police want to keep their ranks pure, but would welcome new hires. The audit found officers are frustrated there's still not enough uniforms and support staff to handle all their calls for service.

“I would definitely improve staffing,” said Barbour. “Add police officers and civilian workers because records get backed up because they don't have the person power to be able to get to the records.”

The audit also found the firing of former Chief Frank Straub and a prolonged search for his replacement was a terrible distraction to patrol officers.

The rank and file told researchers they desperately want to be supported and trusted by the public they serve but said sometimes sensational or one-sided media reports undermined that trust.

“It doesn't seem the media is treating us fairly because we don't see the media doing both sides,” said Barbour. “We see the negative side when we do something not so good but we don't always see the positive sides.”

The police department worries it still doesn't have all the answers to providing the public the best customer service possible because it hasn't formally audited the public, so look for a similar scientific survey for citizens coming up this fall.