Spokane mayor welcomes police leaving Seattle, reforming without defunding

Dec 18, 2020, 2:31 PM

The past few years the Seattle Police Department has seen numerous officers leaving the force to take lateral positions with police departments in neighboring areas, for reasons related to culture and politics, among others. The Spokane Police Department is one such beneficiary and Spokane mayor Nadine Woodward joined the Dori Monson Show to discuss why she welcomes it.

“Spokane’s police department–the reputation is incredibly good. We have a police chief who has done a lot to make improvements in the department to raise the bar on the type of officer that we hire, and he’s got a good reputation himself. We have a community that supports and values its law enforcement and first responders, and I’m a new mayor. This has been my first year in office, and they will have a mayor who supports them,” she said.

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Mayor Woodward believes that it’s important to remember that police officers are members of the community as well, and wants to create a culture that emphasizes that support.

“Our police officers are members of this community, too. I mean, they live in our neighborhood, their children go to school with our children, they go to the same church as some of us … Their job is one in which they put their lives at risk all the time. And so we need to be able to support them in what they do,” she said.

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“They’re held accountable and they have a police chief who holds them accountable, who raises the bar on on the type of behavior that they exhibit out in the community when they confront people and work with a community members.”

The mayor says they had protests as well this summer, but she says they’re reacting to police reform differently than cities like Seattle.

“We did have a summer of protests and at the end of May, we actually had the first riot — I’ve lived here 30 years — that I’ve ever seen in the city of Spokane. But we got that under control after the first night. And we have to allow our officers — who are very well trained in all areas of crisis intervention, de-escalation, implicit bias, all of that–they they get a great amount of training and we have to let them do their job,” she said.

“After all of these protests this summer, there is, of course, a conversation of what police reform in the future looks like … So instead of taking all the tools away from officers and defunding departments, we are working collaboratively with the mayor’s office, our city council, the police department and other stakeholders in our community, where we are once we can, under COVID, safely get to the table and physically have conversations about what police reform looks like for our community.”

Why does she think cities like Seattle are taking the defund approach?

“I think there’s just too much emotion right now, and people aren’t really thinking things through and realizing the consequences of their decisions, when you rush to act, rush to judge and emotion is the driving force behind those decisions. That’s why when the conversation came up in the city of Spokane, we decided let’s methodically approach this.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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