Spokane’s police chief, sheriff upset about sexual predator being released here
SPOKANE, Wash — Spokane’s top law enforcement officers expressed anger and frustration Thursday over the upcoming release of a sexually violent predator to Spokane.
57-year old David Durbin is scheduled to arrive Wednesday, February 19th. He’s spent the last 10 years at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island, classified as a sexually violent predator.
According to court documents, Durbin still meets the criteria for sexually violent predators, but a judge in Clark County, Washington is allowing his release under a Less Restrictive Alternative. That’s a way of keeping predators under strict supervision without having to house them on McNeil Island.
“There’s no way you should be comfortable with this if you’re a citizen of this community,” said Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. Sheriff Knezovich and Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl expressed their frustrations with the release in an exclusive interview with KXLY4 News on Thursday.
“There is a very small voice at the table,” Chief Meidl said. “What about the victims, what about the community?”
The chief and sheriff says these releases from McNeil Island have to do with two things: a growing desire of lawmakers and state officials to rehabilitate every offender and the cost of housing offenders at McNeil Island.
“The reason they’re getting out is that nobody wants to pay to house them anymore,” Sheriff Knezovich said. “This is an economic issue.”
It’s a community issue as well.
Offenders and sexual predators are supposed to be released to the county in which they offended, unless there are specific concerns about victims. Under the LRA releases, predators need to be placed in pre-approved housing. Clark County doesn’t have any housing like that; some counties and cities prohibit it.
Spokane, however, has no restrictions on this type of housing and some property owners have chosen to accept sex offenders and other felons whose rent is paid for by the state. Because of that – and, because there’s a counselor in Spokane who contracts with the state to provide sex offender treatment – Sheriff Knezovich believes Spokane County will be disproportionately affected.
“They are going to empty McNeil Island and these violent sexual predators are going to end up in our communities,” Sheriff Knezovich said. “These are people who should never see freedom again.”
Chief Meidl is also concerned that, although Durbin has a laundry list of restrictions that govern his release, local law enforcement has no real role in his release.
“There’s no requirement that the state notify local law enforcement if there is a violation,” Chief Meidl said. “So, if this individual goes out and violates any of the pages and pages of requirements, we don’t have any way of knowing that.”
Chief Meidl said that means his patrol officers could spot Durbin on the street after curfew, for example, and not have any way of knowing that he shouldn’t be out of his home.
The chief and sheriff say they sit in meeting after meeting where the consideration of the victims and community are not heard. They believe the only way to solve this issue is to change the law governing LRAs and the release of sexually violent predators.
“The number one priority should always be the community,” Chief Meidl said. “And, if there’s any doubt if the community will be safe, I’m always going to lean towards keeping the community safe.”
Sheriff Knezovich said the state has told him eight of these sexually violent predators will be released to Spokane this year. We have yet to independently confirm that information.
“The only way we’re going to make a change is that the law is going to change,” Sheriff Knezovich said. “We’re going to have to have our state legislature step up and say there are certain things we’re willing to pay to protect.”
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