Brian Coddington, Communications Director, 509.625.6740
Thursday, June 30, 2022 at 4:48 p.m.
Spokane police officers will begin working out of the former East Central Library on Friday, Mayor Nadine Woodward announced today.
Officers who formerly worked out of a small donated space at St. Ann’s Church on the lower South Hill will serve the neighborhood from the former library location that shares a parking lot with the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center. The MLK Center, East Central Neighborhood Council, the East Sprague Business Association, and neighbors visited by the Spokane Police Department expressed support for housing police resources at the location. Additionally, a virtual community ThoughtExchange conversation hosted by the City Council in December showed wide support for a neighborhood policing location, which gained momentum after a series of high-profile incidents.
“Neighbors have overwhelmingly welcomed police officers working in their neighborhood,” Woodward said. “This gives officers the opportunity to expand the community policing model and get to know their neighbors on a more meaningful level.”
The City owns the 6,000-square-foot building. Woodward made an operational decision to locate the police in the building based on community feedback and support, public safety considerations, and police operational needs. Furniture from the former church location is being used to furnish the new workspace for officers.
The Spokane Public Library transferred the asset to City ownership as part of a partnership arrangement that resulted in the construction of the new library branch at Liberty Park. The City identified the former library location as a police precinct at the request of the MLK Center more than three years ago.
A Police Space Programming Study completed in June 2018 by Integrus Architects recommended that the police department establish a satellite location south of Interstate 90 that is readily visible and accessible to the public, offers similar services across all neighborhoods, has a similar look and feel, and has a visible and clearly delineated public entry.
Co-locating behavioral health services with the police department remains a part of the plan for the East Central location. The model is based on a successful partnership between police and behavioral health specialists at its downtown location to bring critical services to people in crisis and free up police resources for other calls.
That partnership contacted 4,090 people in crisis, a nearly 10% increase over the previous year. Of those encounters, 0.8% were arrested and more than 4,500 calls were diverted from patrol and freed up those officers to respond to other needs.
The City is pursuing a similar pilot program in Hillyard and exploring an opportunity in the West Central neighborhood.