Spokane’s Police Chief hosts community forum

Spokane’s Police Chief was answering questions and listening to concerns from neighbors at a community forum at the West Central Community Center on Tuesday.

The event was a casual way for neighbors to connect with Chief Craig Meidl and find out what’s being done to keep Spokane safe.

“What is so important about these types of events is that it allows us to come out and talk about issues that are very specific to people that attend this event,” said Chief Craig Meidl.

One neighbor asked about the increased population of sex offenders living in the west central neighborhood. Others asked about the increase in human trafficking in Spokane.

“My concerns at this time are drugs, homelessness, human trafficking, it seems like it’s growing more and more in our community,” said Yolonde Powell-Collins, a concerned neighbor who attended the event.

Chief Meidl said just last week the FBI, with help from the Spokane Police Department rescued seven kids from a human trafficking situation along Sprague Avenue in Spokane.

“Human trafficking is just exploding across the entire country. Spokane is no different- so we are constantly working it. Working with the FBI, the sheriff’s department.- we actually work with other law enforcement agencies as well,” said Chief Meidl.

Chief Meidl also addressed changes coming to the department use of force policy. Meidl said the policy will focus on de-escalation techniques.

“What we are looking for is doing everything we can to minimize the necessity of using force and gaining voluntary compliance. Most of us are already doing it, we’ve been doing it for years, but we never memorialized it or put it into policy as this is the official stance and expectations of the Spokane Police Department,” said Chief Meidl.

The new use of force policy will take a few more months to finalize. Meidl said he’ll be seeking input from the department and community on the policy.