Tuesday, February 2, 2016

OPO Commission to select an interim ombudsman tonight

Posted By on Tue, Feb 2, 2016 at 11:01 AM

click to enlarge opo-sign.jpg

Spokane could see a police ombudsman start as soon as tomorrow. Tonight the Office of Police Ombudsman Commission will pick one of three candidates to fill the position until Raheel Humayun takes over. The position has been vacant for 13 months.

Humayun, a Canadian, is still waiting to hear if he’ll be approved for a visa to come work in the United States. That decision could still be a month away. If he gets the OK, it could be another 45 days until he starts working.

Meanwhile, OPO Commissioners interviewed the three top candidates for the interim job Friday in the City Council chambers. Read their answers and bios below:

Bart Logue spent 26 years in the Marine Corps. He was a military police officer for more than 20 years and served as police chief at the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina. Recently, Logue served as the Marine and Naval diplomat in Amman, Jordan.

Commissioner AJ VanderPol: How do you feel your work history has prepared you to tackle our city’s unique challenges?

BL: I was in the Marine Corps for 26 years and did very well. I progressed every time I was able, and all the jobs I’ve had were different. That’s one of my greatest strengths, and it doesn’t bother me.

The nice thing about my last job is I got to be a representative of the Marine Corps to an entire country. Nobody there is like me. I’m completely different from everyone I came into contact with. The majority of those people had negative perceptions of the US. My job there was to create a relationship that would last and improve our position. And I was successful at that.

Commissioner Conklin: Were you to be picked for this position, what are your three main goals?

BL: 1. Restore any sort of continuity to the office. I’m going to walk into that office and look at every single piece of paper I can find, read every single case file that’s outstanding. That’s the first priority.

2. Tackle a hard one. I want to make sure it gets the proper attention that the ombudsman’s office was created for. I’m going to give you my life for the couple weeks, couple months, whatever it is. … The citizens deserve that.

3. This one's more personal. I want to take the time to understand the problem-set more. I want to have people in Spokane know who I am and develop my expertise more in this area. So every day I’m going to respond to a citizen complaint, as many as I can in a given day.

Gregory Jimenez started a private investigation firm in 2014, dealing with criminal and civil litigation in addition to corporate fraud, financial mismanagement, embezzlement and policy violations. Previously, Jimenez was a senior investigator for JPMorgan Chase and a detective in Scottsdale, AZ.

Commissioner Ladd Smith: Why do you believe you are qualified for this job?

GJ: I think one of the most important things here is faith. I have faith in myself, it’s also important for the people of Spokane and the brotherhood of the police department to have faith in me. I believe the police department can partner with the community and make Spokane great. Not having the support of the public can make their jobs very difficult, and I believe I can help bridge that gap.

Commissioner Conklin: What are your three main goals?

GJ: I wrote them down: 1. Reaching out to the community is first and foremost, ... to say something is going to be done and that we are going to move forward and things are going to get better. That’s going to involve reaching out to groups like the NAACP and the Center for Justice and the behavioral groups, letting them know we are working on these things.

2. Communicating with the permanent ombudsman would be the utmost importance because anything I would potentially do in these few months, if I’m thinking right and he’s thinking left, that’s not what’s best for the community.

3. Strive for transparency, and making sure our actions are being relayed to the community properly, and that the police department as they undergo the search for a new police chief, that they know what the community needs from them. The police community overall in the United States is going through some dramatic changes right now and we have to realize that. The public is demanding something we have not demanded before. It’s an immediate response, we want to know exactly what’s happening right now, we’re asking for the videotape immediately. … It’s an interesting time.

Eddie Aubrey is a former cop-turned-attorney specializing in police accountability, constitutional policing and law enforcement best practices. He’s served as a correctional officer in Torrance, California, and a cop in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California.

Aubrey’s legal career started in the King County Prosecutor's Office and includes a four-year stint in the Renton City Attorney’s Office, and a temporary judgeship in King County District Court before opening his own law firm in 2015. Aubrey also worked for the Office of Independent Review in Fresno.

Commissioner VanderPol: You’ve worn many hats, what mark do you hope to leave in the interim position?

EA: The impact that I can provide here to the city of Spokane and this police commission is that I have a 360 degree view of law and justice. From law enforcement all the way through judge and oversight. So I bring to you the ability to hit the ground running immediately, not learning about the process of oversight. I’ve practiced oversight, and I’ve been successful at oversight.

That also fits into exactly what my current practice is as an attorney in constitutional policing and police oversight. So this is a perfect fit.

Commissioner Scott Richter: At the Office of Independent Review in Fresno, you came into 909 complaints. Can you explain how you prioritized those, some things you learned and some things you might do differently?

EA: When I got there I had a couple priorities. The first was they had 48 officer-involved shootings that were in open status for the past eight years. I had to address that first. At the same time, as in this case, I also had to take a look at the complaints coming in. So the 909 complaints, I listed into categories. You look at those that are an interest to the public and the stakeholders first, and that would be the uses of force. Use of force was number one. Then I went through the inquires.

I’m assuming that you want me to look at the use of force cases, but I you can help direct me with that. So part of it would be listening to the commission and figuring out what you want in the interim, but that’s how I prioritized them, by use of force. The Department of Justice has indicated quite clearly that use of force is the number one category that any oversight agency should look at.

The OPO Commission is scheduled to make a decision tonight on which of these three candidates will be offered the job. The meeting starts at 5:30 in the City Council chambers.

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