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A New Police Weapon 

The police ombudsman says cops need the power to swear; plus, the Internet gets ugly for Todd Mielke

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Police Profanity

They say you get further with a kind word and a gun, but Spokane Police Ombudsman Tim Burns believes on rare occasions it may take a little profanity to get the job done.

Burns has recommended changing the Spokane Police Department’s policy on officer demeanor to allow for limited, “strategic” use of profanity to establish control or quote another person in incident reports.

“Sometimes you just have to be able to communicate with people,” Burns says, explaining it may sometimes require a little shock to get someone’s attention or establish authority.

Burns emphasizes that an officer would have to justify the use of profanity as a tactical measure and would not be allowed to swear in anger or in a demeaning way.

“Members of the department shall not be permitted to use epithets or terms that tend to denigrate any particular gender, race, nationality, sexual orientation, ethnic group or religious group,” his recommendation states, “except when necessary to quote another person in reports or in testimony.”

Burns says he made his recommendation after a Spokane officer faced discipline earlier this year for swearing in what Burns believed to be a well-intentioned, strategic manner. His recommendation is based on a current policy at the Portland Police Department.

“It’s something they’re doing,” he says. “They see the practical value and application of it.”

Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub and other administrators will determine whether to incorporate the recommendation into the department’s policy.

— Jacob Jones

Mielke’s Fan Sites

Six billboards have popped up across Spokane County all asking drivers to visit a new negative website against county commissioner Todd Mielke. The site, gotmielkegottrouble.com, focuses on Mielke’s background as an intern for Jim West, his purchase of the Spokane County Raceway and his efforts to close a small section of Ben Burr Road to make way for development.

They’re the effort of a small independent group, Accountable to Spokane, and so far, the billboards and website against Mielke are the group’s sole focus.

Several prominent Spokanites have donated to the group, including former city councilman Richard Rush and former Center for Justice attorney Bonne Beavers.

It’s not the only website dedicated to attacking Mielke: Stopthisperson.com, run by the progressive Eastern Washington Voters group, aims at Mielke’s past as a tobacco lobbyist. But Mielke dismisses the hit sites as based on old news.

“It’s the rehash of the same stuff,” Mielke says, adding mockingly, “Gee, Todd Mielke worked for Jim West.”

— Daniel Walters

Holding Water

Councilman Jon Snyder cast the lone vote Monday against 3.5 percent increases for both Spokane water and wastewater rates. Snyder says city administration’s plan will have too much of an impact on low-income residents, or people who don’t use much water.

What the city needs, Snyder says, is a public utilities commission that could examine rates like the planning commission does with building projects. Council President Ben Stuckart says he agrees, but there’s probably not enough support on council now to form such a commission.

Stuckart adds that he voted for the administration’s proposal because he and other council member negotiated matching funds to help low-income residents with their water and wastewater bills.

— Joe O’Sullivan

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