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Commission Finishes Police Review, Culture Audit Still Needed

Spokane’s Use of Force Commission has concluded its two-year review of the Spokane Police Department with a letter to the mayor. The commission acknowledged improvements in its 26 recommendations from 2013, but notes two areas left undone.

Mayor David Condon and Police Chief Frank Straubsubmitted their final report on use-of-force last month, and the commission responded with a letter on March 16th. The commission writes: “we are impressed with the intentionality and diligence of the efforts made”.

But, they go on to say that a culture audit has not been done, and there are no plans for one. Recommendation number one from the commission said “the city should retain qualified professionals to perform an institutional audit of the SPD’s culture and its influence on employee behavior.”

Instead, as the newest letter says, Straub and police leaders worked to improve the culture of the department, and the federal Department of Justice did an audit of its own. To the question of whether the department still needs an audit, Mayor Condon gave this response Monday:

Condon: “And the sense that there hasn’t been one done, the reality is when both the Department of Justice and their COPS program came in they interviewed a substantial amount of officers.”

Straub told the commission he has gained the type of insight into the SPD that a cultural audit would have delivered.

In a second topic left open, the commission wrote there is a need for continued work on the Police Ombudsman’s autonomy and authority.

The Use of Force Commission was created by request of the mayor in 2013, much in response to the death of Otto Zehm at the hands of police.

Copyright 2015 Spokane Public Radio

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