Spokane Police Capt. Craig Meidl returns to his position as assistant chief, Interim Police Chief Rick Dobrow announced today, but this time on a temporary basis.
Meidl was appointed assistant chief by former Chief Frank Straub in 2012, but took a voluntarily demotion in 2014 to distance himself from Straub's leadership style. Meidl has been running the North Precinct since January of 2015. Dobrow says he knew he would need some help soon after being appointed interim chief and had six officers apply for the job. Meidl rose to the top of the list, he says, because of his previous experience as assistant chief.
"He was doing remarkably well in that position," Dobrow says. "The only reason he left was because he no longer wanted to work in the environment that was created under former Chief Straub's administration. Short of that he would still be serving in that capacity."
Meidl was one of the officers who saluted Karl Thompson after he was convicted of excessive force in the death of Otto Zehm and lying to cover up. Dobrow acknowledged that incident was a consideration, but left the decision on whether or not it should be a deciding factor with Mayor David Condon, who interviewed Meidl. During that conversation Meidl says he explained what was going through his mind at the time, which he later relayed to the Inlander.
"It wasn't about Otto Zehm, and it was not mean to insult or cause further harm," he says. "The intent was to honor this person that we knew differently than how he'd been portrayed. But at the same time I acknowledge that things should and could have been done differently."
Meidl will take over Dobrow's old duties as assistant chief in charge of operations, which means he'll oversee patrol and all the precincts, he says.
"I want to focus on getting back to doing good police work, fulfilling the Department of Justice's Recommendations and connecting with the community," he says.