Spokane Police Abuses: Past to Present

The People of Spokane vs. Law Enforcement Abuse, Impunity, Corruption, and Cover-up

Educating the Chief — It’s Spokane, not Spokaloo

Posted by Arroyoribera on September 26, 2007

“Educating the Chief” is a new category of posts at SpokanePoliceAbuses.wordpress.com

It has been created in response to the SPD-run Chat/Forum with Chief Ann Kirkpatrick held September 19, 2007, at the Spokane City Council Chambers.

At that event, the Chief displayed an astounding disdain for the public. She dismissed a Whitworth student as wrong and misinformed. She intentionally referred to a citizen as “Mister” rather than “Ms”. And she told the crowd that things will improve once the citizenry of Spokane adjusts its attitude.

Even the fact that the event was organized and held in the manner in which it was raises significant legal and ethical questions. At least 17 individuals invited by the Chief to the event are involved in litigation with the City of Spokane and the Spokane Police Department over the SPD’s suppression of people who assembled in Riverfront Park on July 4, 2007. The Chief — who is also an attorney — organized this event, orchestrated it, and issued invitations to the July 4 arrestees as well as supporters and others involved in protesting police misconduct in Spokane. Spokane attorney Frank Malone, who with his daughter–attorney Kelly Malone–is representing one of the protesters, questioned the ethics of the Chief and the city prosecutors at his blog SpokanePolitics.blogspot.com

Kelly Malone sounds like she too can give the Chief a lesson, stating, “Can anyone stop these people from not only violating our client’s rights to free speech — right to free association — right to assembly — but also now their right to counsel.”

When the Chief wasn’t listening and smirking on September 19, she was lecturing and shaking her finger at the crowd gathered at City Hall.

Now, of course, I understand that the Chief is not from these parts. She’s from ol’ Tennessee via Ellensburg and Federal Way. Might be that she didn’t do much research on these parts prior to taking the job.

You know: Children of the Sun and salmon running free. Colonel George Wright. Hangman massacre. Capital of the Inland Empire. Biggest city between Seattle and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Home of Expo ’74. So close to Idaho and so far from God. Home to Gonzaga and Whitworth. One newspaper town. Racist skinheads. Hell’s Angels. Clergy sex scandal. Kevin Coe and Robert Yates. Otto Zehm and Shonto Pete. Dying military base. Old South Hill money. Contaminated river. Bloomsday, Hoopfest, and Pigs in the Park.

Maybe Chief Kirkpatrick got confused when she heard it called Spokaloo. Of course, it is also now called Spotucky and Spokanistan.

But I think it is time to provide her with a little local education.

The City of Spokane’s website biography of Chief Kirkpatrick describes her role in leading the 380-employee SPD with its $40 million budget. According to the bio, the Chief “works to ensure that the community feels a sense of security from harm and has a high level of trust and confidence in the Police Department.” The bio goes on to say the Chief “strives to be transparent and accountable to the public and is working to make the department stronger.”

Some of the chief’s roles as described in her City of Spokane biography are contradictory — or at least contradicted by the SPD’s recent history and performance.

The Chief’s comments to and about the public at the September 19, 2007 Forum/Chat did nothing to “ensure that the community feels a sense of security from harm”.

In fact we heard of cops calling people “faggots” and announcing they were on the scene to deal with “shit bags” in the park and refusing to provide their names and badge numbers.

Chief Kirkpatrick says she wants to ensure the community “has a high level of trust and confidence in the Police Department”, even as her officers are tasering suicidal individuals, killing the disabled, and violating constitutional free speech and free assembly rights.

And of course, it is the lack of the transparency and accountability she says she wants to establish that is largely behind the anger, distrust, and fear surrounding the public’s relationship to the Spokane Police Department.

So far the Chief has handled the public relations game well enough to be seen as a relatively decent, down-to-earth, generally competent police chief.

But now comes the hard work.

What is the hard work that Chief Kirkpatrick has in front of her?

Reigning in the culture of machismo. Changing the all-to-common police officer attitude of power over a citizenry presumed to be criminal and deviant. Restraining the proclivity to use excessive force. Ending the evident disrespect for the public and the pattern of bullying, verbally abusing, and threatening them.

It is important for the people of Spokane to educate Chief Kirkpatrick. Currently her officers appear to be beyond the reach of the citizenry and even the law. Investigations of numerous cases of police conduct remain unresolved. There is no central source of information for the public on the status of various investigations or even who is handling those investigations. Most people expect never to see a final resolution to several of these cases.

But in her political and public roles, the Chief can be reached. She can be told that the days of business as usual are over. That police are citizens. That police officers are subject to law. That she is their boss and that we are her boss.

This blog category–Educating the Chief–will address issues of importance regarding Spokane which the Chief might find of interest and might enlighten her perspectives on Spokane.

More than one person I have spoken with has said that they expect that one day in the not too distant future the Chief will awaken to find that the Spokane Police Guild has packed her bags for her and are waiting for her with a car to drive her to the airport.

It is my hope that some of the information here might help the Chief survive to see the day when she personally introduces the Spokane Police Guild to Spokane’s new Ombudsman for Police Oversight.

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