Spokane Council President Ben Stuckart has hit the ground running to address the issues on which he campaigned.  Police reform is on the top of his agenda.

Stuckart Leading Police Reform

In January, I introduced a police reform resolution that contained 13 items I believe are necessary for the city to implement if we are to truly regain the trust between our police department and the citizens.  This resolution passed 7 to 0 and showed a council leading the charge on an important issue.  Among these 13 items were the call for additional training for our police officers when dealing with sensitive populations, the implementation of a body camera program and a reinvigoration of our investigation of property crimes.  Two weeks later Mayor Condon came out with his own list of police reforms and all but one of our suggestions were included.  These reforms are all moving along and we are in weekly conversations with the Mayor and Police Chief ensuring that these are implemented.  Council President Update #1, Tuesday, April 10, 2012.

Body camera’s are the linchpin to real police reform in this blogger’s opinion, and I am glad Ben Stuckart is willing to champion it.  It will help keep the police honest and help restore faith the community’s faith in them.

If you recall, President Ben Stuckart was on the forum “Policing for Safety” with Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper.   Stuckart ask the question: What should citizen oversight of a police department look like.

Relations between Community and Police

At the same forum, the President of the Spokane Police Guild asked Stamper the question of how to move forward as a community after an widely publicized incident of police brutality.  Stamper gave him an earful.  Basically, he said you don’t coddle the offending officers; you discipline them, and  the Council under Ben Stuckart leadership is following this advice.

In late February the administration sent a settlement agreement to the City Council for Officer Brad Thoma.  Officer Thoma had been involved in a DUI combined hit & run and was subsequently let go.  Due to complicated labor laws and rules that define alcoholism as a disability it was recommended that we offer him back pay and his job back.  The Council decided to reject this settlement by a vote of 7 to 0 and sent a message to the community that we want to rebuild the trust in our police, not settle a case based on the threat of a civil lawsuit.  Again I believe this shows strong leadership by the City Council!  Council President Update #1, Tuesday, April 10, 2012.

Stuckart keeping in touch with what matters

Ben Stuckart has also been taking time to find out what is really happening in City government.  He has been asking the men and women who are doing the work to keep our streets clean, safe, and neighborhoods a good place to live. I like that. Ben will need a detailed understanding of the City to accomplish his goals.

I have made a concerted effort to get out and find out what the great employees of the City of Spokane are up to.  I have been on 2 police ride alongs, spent half a shift with the Fire Department at Station 15, learned how to operate a garbage truck and picked up garbage for 6 hours and have gone on multiple tours of facilities around Spokane.  Council President Update #1, Tuesday, April 10, 2012.

Update: With City Council President Ben Stuckart’s help, the Spokane City Council recently voted to place  Prop 1 for Independent Investigative Powers for the Spokane Police Ombudsman on the February 12, 2013, local City of Spokane ballot. 

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