Tackling rising crime in Spokane through Violent Crimes Task Force

SPOKANE, Wash. — We’ve gathered new details from the shooting of a Spokane police officer, and the city’s promise to do more to curb violent crime in our community.

That officer has been identified as a 27-year-old veteran of the department. Officer Kris Honaker was investigating reports of a drive-by shooting when someone drove by and shot him. He was released from the hospital Monday, and two convicted felons released from prison were arrested on attempted murder charges.

Two months ago, Mayor Nadine Woodward announced a new Violent Crimes Task Force to tackle situations just like this. Two sergeants and five officers are on the team and their sole focus is handling the most egregious offenders in our community.

Mayor Nadine Woodward was visibly upset Sunday night when she shared the news she says is a Mayor’s worst fear. “This violence has got to stop. we were inches away from losing an officer,” said Mayor Woodward.

Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl said the violence in our community is outrageous, adding, “We have a violent community preying on other community members, and we have a violent community that is now targeting officers, and this absolutely has to stop.”

It’s situations like this the Violent Crimes Task Force would take on. Mayor Woodward said it’s important to give the task force the ability to build stronger cases so they can put people behind bars for a period of time, to keep them off the streets.

A small number of suspects are responsible for the majority of the crimes. “We can aggregate those crimes and say bump up from misdemeanors to felonies and go after these individuals that way so they can get longer sentences and be kept off the streets,” explained Mayor Woodward.

She says having a team focused solely on these types of crimes (drive-bys, gang activity, illegal guns, drugs, etc.)  will make a difference.

“They have to work around the laws that are already in place and the sentencing guidelines that judges have to follow. If there is a discretionary question for judges and they’re not holding people accountable, that’s an issue,” Woodward added.

This new task force won’t be working on this specific case, as the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office was requested to assist in the investigation through a mutual aid agreement.

The Violent Crimes Task Force’s responsibilities include finding criminals, charging them, and building stronger cases for longer sentences.

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