SPD hopes to expand downtown presence, homeless outreach with levy funding

Homelessness and downtown safety have been two major talking points for those in the running to become Spokane’s next mayor — but it turns out, some of their proposed solutions are already on the table, thanks to the $5.8 million public safety levy approved by voters in February.

Voters knew that money would go toward hiring more police officers and firefighters, but they didn’t have a clear-cut picture of what exactly that would look like — until now.

Here are some ways the Spokane Police Department plans to use the public safety levy funding, according to its prioritization plan submitted to the Public Safety Committee:

Stationing five officers and one sergeant downtown: SPD says it will address downtown safety concerns by stationing more officers there to cut down on response times and increase visibility.
Adding two homeless outreach officers: The department plans to build on its partnership with Frontier Behavioral Health to safely respond to calls of those having a mental health crisis.
Hiring another Special Victims Unit detective: SPD says adding an investigator with specialized training to this unit will cut down on burnout and overflow assignments.
Hiring another Major Crimes detective: An additional detective will investigate homicides and robberies and bring Major Crimes Unit staffing to where it was years ago, according to SPD.
Adding three property crimes detectives: The department’s plan says only 20 to 25% of all workable felony property crimes are assigned due to staffing levels — the new detectives will focus on chronic and repeat offenders.

Other suggestions include adding a Targeted Crimes Unit detective, two records staff employees, two neighborhood resource officers, a criminal intelligence analyst and an administrative sergeant.

The department plans to use $1.18 million of the $5.8 million approved by voters to pay for vehicles, equipment and training for the new officers over the course of five years. SPD says the additions will cut down on response times and eliminate hours of overtime.

The Spokane City Council will vote on SPD’s plan at its June 24 meeting.

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