A hallmark of this Administration’s tenure has been its support for the Police and Fire Departments. Mayor Condon has not only been behind the City’s investment in resources for these departments, but has also supported initiatives, partnerships and programs that have resulted in real results for citizens.
When it comes to law enforcement, these results have been easily quantifiable in recent years. Overall crime saw a 15 percent decrease in 2018, with some categories of offenses down even more significantly. Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl says support and cooperation with the Mayor’s administration has been key to these improvements.
“Mayor Condon has worked with the police department to keep the community safe by requesting and insisting on a partnership to create solutions,” says Meidl. “It’s been a collaborative effort to find solutions to the issues that were most affecting our community.”
One of those issues the Spokane Police Department took head on was car theft, which had been high in Spokane for some time, making some residents feel unsafe. Thanks to the formation of a car theft taskforce, the department now uses new technologies and policing practices to slow rates of car theft.
“Compared to last year, vehicle theft is down 24 percent, whereas vehicle thefts have gone up in the past five years nationwide and also in Western Washington,” says Meidl.
Another notable program is a partnership with Frontier Behavioral Health that paired mental health professionals with people suffering from mental health issues. The program, funded through the state Legislature, has led to 70 percent fewer people from these calls being hospitalized or sent to jail.
Building trust in the community has also been high on the list of the police department. Meidl says the work to train officers about police use of force began before he became Chief and has continued to the present. Now, every officer receives 40 hours of Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), making Spokane the largest city to fully train its force. The Spokane Police Department was also lauded by the US Department of Justice as going “above and beyond” the DOJ’s recommendations for improving the department and its relationship with its residents.
Going forward, Meidl is excited to see his department continue its progress on a number of fronts, including work with communities of color, its ongoing partnership with the YWCA Spokane to prevent domestic violence and efforts to recruit dedicated officers to its ranks.