Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Why Would Anyone Want the Job?

The City of Spokane's solicition for police chief applicants closed on June 2. According to an MSNBC - KHQ news story, the nationwide search attracted 43 applicants.

My question is: Why would anyone qualified for the Spokane Police Chief position want it?

Surely any applicant worthy of consideration would research the Spokane city government's and police department's history. It wouldn't even take much research. S/he would only have to read The Spokesman-Review's series of articles about the firehouse sex scandal and the police department's investi-bungle to see that top-to-bottom rehabilitation is essential if the Spokane Police Department is ever to regain public trust and confidence.

With only a little more research, prospective applicants would see that the City of Spokane is unlikely to give the new police chief the authority s/he would need. Housecleaning is going to make a lot of police department employees uneasy. An uneasy employee may be one who financially supports and votes for the current administration's opponents. Incumbent officials like to be able to say (sometimes truthfully, often not) they have the support of "their" police department.

Also, the police chief position is highly visible. Positive visibility contributes to political power, and political power residing in an honest, articulate, educated, determined, publicly-accessible Spokane police chief represents a political threat to some elected officials. Spokane's elected officials do not want a police chief who is smarter, more competent, and perhaps more honest than they are. Yet that's exactly the kind of chief Spokane needs.

The in-bred applicants already know how the Spo-political game is played, so to the out-of-town applicants, I'd say, "Do your homework before you're interviewed." And to the applicant who's finally offered the job, I'd ask, "Are you really sure you want it?"


Blogger Word Tosser said...

Maybe the ones who apply from the big cities figure how bad can it get? After all they see every day stuff that only happens here rarely. Enough to shock us, where they take it in stride. And of course, no matter what, we all have a tenecity to think we can change things for the good. Ah, what blind faith we all have.

Thanks for your comments on my blog. I too read yours from time to time. I value your opinion greatly.

8:36 PM, June 09, 2006  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...

Word Tosser,

Thanks! The downfall of many big-city commanders who have the necessary professional skills and qualifications and want to become chief in smaller or similar-sized cities is they fail to take time to learn the city's and the department's politics. Anyone who believes a police chief position in any town or city isn't political is badly in the dark.

7:21 AM, June 10, 2006  
Anonymous stebbijo said...

Those "in-bred applicants" are a scary bunch ... you got that discription right! I think some of those city Spokane guys are from Bonner County ...and well, it's no secret what I think of that misfit area.

3:53 PM, June 10, 2006  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...


There's a lot to be said for going outside the department when circumstances inside dictate. In Spokane, they dictate. I have no doubt that there are some officers in SPD who will, some day, be qualified to be chief. But they need to have some experience under some competent commanders, including a competent chief brought in from outside.

5:33 PM, June 10, 2006  

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