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.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Golden Opportunity

I envy Spokane. Today Spokane Mayor Dennis Hession announced the appointment of Anne E. Kirkpatrick to be the city's new police chief. She's a proven leader with a varied professional background, diverse experiences, and a stellar education.

Earlier in the week Mayor Hession also announced he would seek an outside independent review of the Spokane Police Department. I hope he will select an experienced professional like Dr. Samuel E. Walker of the University of Nebraska - Omaha to lead the review team. Dr. Walker is one of the nation's foremost authorities on police accountability.

Spokane has a golden opportunity. I hope Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich will meet with Mayor Hession to discuss having the same independent review team conduct a similar review of the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff's Office and the Spokane Police Department work very closely together. A joint outside review coupled with new leadership in both agencies would give them a real opportunity to dramatically improve their levels of service and to restore the public's trust and confidence.

Yes, I really do envy Spokane. It is very rare for a city and county to have an opportunity to dramatically professionalize and upgrade their law enforcement agencies at the same time. It is even more remarkable when the new city police chief and new sheriff are such capable chief executive officers. I sincerely hope Mayor Hession and the Spokane County Commissioners back Chief Kirkpatrick and Sheriff Knezovich both backstage and onstage.

Once we in Kootenai County and Coeur d'Alene see what two 21st century county and city chief executive law enforcement officers can do in Spokane, we're going to expect the same quality of performance on this side of the border. Maybe someday we'll get it.


Blogger stebbijo said...

Tonight on the news - Kirkpatrick mentioned that she has never needed a review team and that she liked to be in control. It gave me the impression there might be a possibility that the outside review team could be dropped. The news also billed her creditials of one who fired an employee for improper use of a computer -- like that is supposed to give the citizens some renewed faith? I guess we will see ...

5:50 PM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...


No, I'm pretty sure the outside review will happen. Remember, Chief Kirkpatrick doesn’t even start on the job until September, so the review should be ended or close to over by then. It’s exactly the right time for an outside audit or review. She can learn from whatever is uncovered, but she will be free to accept or reject the outside recommendations. The outside review, completed before she reports for duty, gives her more information. The outside review, though, needs to be done by someone from waaaay outside the Spokane area and by someone with impeccable credentials and competence.

I think the employee firing points out she’s willing to fire an employee for willful or negligent misconduct. I believe the two Spokane detectives who allowed destruction of the images of the 16-year-old victim in the firehouse sex case would have been gone if she had been chief. So would any of their superiors who "suggested" the destruction of the evidence. I predict the million dollar suit by the girl will be settled out of court, because the least thing the city of Spokane wants is city employees spilling the beans under oath about what really happened and who “suggested” the images disappear.

She made another point I thought some folks might be upset by: She said she alone wants to be the one to mete out discipline. Another way of putting that is that she will be accepting full responsibility for any and all employee discipline, and if they citizens think the discipline is too lenient or too harsh, they can bring it to her.

But regardless of what we think, she’s the new chief, and she deserves a chance to succeed or fail.

7:14 AM, July 21, 2006  
Blogger stebbijo said...

That is good to hear. God knows we need a big and positive change.

5:26 PM, July 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill, Once again you hit the nail on the head. How wonderful would it be if we could get Doctor Walker to come over to Kootenai County and do some investigating when he is done in Spokane. Hey we could split the cost of Doctor Walkers travel expense with Spokane. What do you think?

3:15 PM, July 23, 2006  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...


Thanks. I hope I haven't misled you or anyone else by suggesting the city consider using Professor Walker. As far as I know, the city hasn't yet chosen the outside auditor.

I agree completely that Kootenai County SD and the CdA Police would also benefit from an outside audit, but the circumstances here are somewhat different. Spokane city and county are in the throes of changing both the city police chief and the sheriff. It's an ideal time for an independent, professionally interested but politically disinterested outside auditor to offer both the new sheriff and the new chief the benefit of outside professional perspective. I think both Spokane PD and SD realize they're in trouble with the public that finally recognizes it can change both agencies' practices.

Kootenai County and Coeur d'Alene PD, on the other hand, both have comfortably entrenched but unimaginative chief executives. If someone were to seriously propose an outside audit by someone of Professor Walker's stature and insist that the results be made public, the screams of protest from the sheriff's and chief's sycophants would be deafening. That won't change until the public demands change, and that kind of change often occurs only after scandal has hit. Kootenai County is somewhat protected from scandal because our local newspaper, The Coeur d'Alene Press, has neither the professional inclination nor the resources to dig deeply into the issue of county and city law enforcement competence here. The Spokesman-Review is a regional daily newspaper published in Spokane. It has a Coeur d'Alene bureau, but it doesn't have the resources to commit to the kind of coverage it gave the Otto Zehm death in Spokane.

6:51 AM, July 24, 2006  

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