Pin It
Favorite

Extra Eyes 

Spokane police get ready for body cams; plus, the cost of health care

Body Cams by Fall

Amid ongoing efforts to strengthen accountability, the Spokane Police Department has now acquired 220 small officer-mounted body cameras for recording police interactions. SPD officials expect to roll out the cameras by September after finalizing policies and officer training on how and when to used the cameras.

Tim Schwering, director of SPD Professional Oversight, says a chest-mounted model, the Axon Body by Taser, proved the most comfortable and easy to use during officer testing. The $300 cameras are about the size and shape of a deck of cards. It can record up to 13 hours of video.

The department has started testing its network bandwidth to ensure it can handle the extra data traffic from storing the video. Officials also purchased 37 docking stations for downloading video and charging batteries. They will use Taser's Evidence.com system to store data.

The Spokane City Council first approved more than $600,000 for the cameras in April of 2013. Schwering says the department has moved toward approving a camera-use policy and final field testing. He hopes to have officers trained and wearing cameras by early fall.

"At the latest September," he says. "I'm hoping we can get it out a little sooner."

— JACOB JONES

Under Fire

A year after reorganizing the Spokane Fire Department, the city council heard from a Superior Court judge last month that it never should have made that move. Now, in response to that ruling, the council has undone the changes, returning the agency to a department, rather than a division with seven departments within it. Meanwhile, Mayor David Condon has directed city legal to file an appeal in the case, arguing the city council was within its legal rights to reorganize the department.

The reorganization (and similar moves in the police and parks departments, which were not affected by the ruling) meant the department would become a division with departments within it, and those departments would each be allowed two exempt positions, increasing the number of mayoral appointees. Supporters said it was a way to allow for more flexibility in hiring. Opponents, including some on the council, argued it could allow for nepotism by bypassing civil service testing.

City Spokesman Brian Coddington says three of the new police positions, two new parks positions and one new fire position have been filled since the changes. While the firefighters union has called for a reversal of the hire, the administration says the appointment was legal because it was done before the judge's ruling.

— HEIDI GROOVER

Modest Cost Increases

It's unlikely premiums for health insurance plans sold through state and federal exchanges will substantially increase next year, according to a new analysis from Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Examining premium data from eight states, researchers concluded that premiums were lower than expected in 2014 thanks to market incentives, like increased competition, that encourage insurers to keep prices down. The researchers noted that these incentives will be "even stronger in 2015 with increased enrollment and a more stable risk pool."

In Washington state, 12 health insurance providers have already requested rate changes for individual health plans both inside and outside of the exchange in 2015. The proposed rate changes range from a 6.8 percent decrease for Molina Healthcare plans to a 20 percent increase for Time Insurance coverage.

Premera Blue Cross, the largest insurer in Eastern Washington, for example, has asked for an 8.1 percent increase. Its affiliate, LifeWise Health Plan of Washington, has asked for an 8.9 percent increase. According to the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner, the average proposed rate change is 8.25 percent — the lowest requested average rate change in the individual market in seven years.

Four insurance companies — Columbia United Providers, Health Alliance Northwest Health Plan, UnitedHealthcare of Washington, and Moda Health Plan — also have submitted proposals to offer new plans through the exchange.

— DEANNA PAN

Tags: ,

  • Pin It

Speaking of Briefs

  • Prisoner Problems
  • Prisoner Problems

    Computer errors continue to plague state Department of Corrections; plus, Washington ranked first in pro-charter-school policies
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • No License to Kill
  • No License to Kill

    Task force says officers should be held responsible for police shootings; plus, state auditor clears Spokane Valley firing of city manager
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • Big Blue Shakeup
  • Big Blue Shakeup

    Spokane's new police chief raises eyebrows; plus, WSU suspension news
    • Nov 23, 2016
  • More »

Latest in News

  • Skunked
  • Skunked

    Why Spokane County Commissioners passed a temporary ban on new outdoor pot farms without telling anyone
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • Prisoner Problems
  • Prisoner Problems

    Computer errors continue to plague state Department of Corrections; plus, Washington ranked first in pro-charter-school policies
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • In Defense of Refugees
  • In Defense of Refugees

    In the aftermath of the presidential election, local residents seek ways to love and support their refugee friends
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Gingerbread Build-Off

Gingerbread Build-Off @ Davenport Grand Hotel

Sun., Dec. 11, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Jacob Jones

More by Heidi Groover

  • Brachytherapy Breakthrough
  • Brachytherapy Breakthrough

    A new option for treating skin cancer skips the scalpel
    • Dec 1, 2014
  • It's Exploding
  • It's Exploding

    Why lawmakers and cops are worried about people blowing themselves up
    • Nov 25, 2014
  • GU Shake-Up
  • GU Shake-Up

    The woman overseeing reports of sexual assault at Gonzaga resigns; plus, a new study on Lakeland Village
    • Nov 25, 2014
  • More »

More by Deanna Pan

Most Commented On

  • Unfinished Business

    Isaiah Wall wants to get his life on track. But first, he's gotta buy drugs for the police
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Fake-News Nightmare

    The social media dream of the 2000s is fading, but we can reset the system by sticking up for the truth
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


green zone


marijuana


trail mix


Comment


Readers also liked…

  • Manufacturing Fear
  • Manufacturing Fear

    Spokane's Republican sheriff says members of his own party are dangerously dividing people
    • Aug 12, 2015
  • Grading the Session
  • Grading the Session

    The Idaho Legislature made some wise decisions in Boise, but they still get a "C" for "crazy"
    • Apr 22, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation