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Spokane Police will double their downtown presence, patrols, to address lagging 911 response times

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane city leaders have reorganized the police department – putting 30 more officers on patrol in hopes of decreasing 911 response times.

That reorganization however did come with a few sacrifices. Those officers now on patrol were previously in the city’s traffic unit. There will also be no more neighborhood resource officers, said Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl.

“We love our neighborhood resource officers, the community loves our neighborhood resource officers, but again, we have to have officers available to respond to 911 calls,” he said. “One of the things the captains will be working on as well is they will be the point of contact for those neighborhood issues and then they will assign out those neighborhood problems as they come in.”

The plan will assign police officers to exclusively patrol downtown, as well as Northwest, Northeast and South Spokane. All those officers will be overseen by precinct captains.

Meidl said the city is also looking to equip 10 patrol cars with radar devices to give more rank and file officers the ability to do speed stops.

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward told reporters she had been listening to her constituents’ frustrations about lagging 911 response times.

“Our officers are doing everything they can to respond to every single call,” she said. “The simple fact is that they are stretched too thin to match the volume. So they have to prioritize calls, which is not satisfying anyone, not to officers and certainly not to the person at the other end of that call.”

She, and the police chief hope to reduce response times through increase the number of officers on patrol, and assigning them to specific precincts. There are also around 20 new officers in training who will join patrol precincts when they graduate.

These changes go into effect on Sunday.