Pin It

Firing Power 

Sheriff Knezovich wants more power to get rid of misbehaving cops; plus, county commissioners on the casino debate

click to enlarge Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich
  • Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich

Arbitrate This!

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich sent a letter to local lawmakers last week, pushing for a state law to tighten the arbitration process for deputies and officers fired over illegal or dishonest misconduct.

“You shouldn’t be committing crimes if you wear a badge,” he says. “You shouldn’t be untruthful if you wear a badge. ... Everything that we do hinges on our integrity.”

Knezovich says public trust is shaken every time arbitration rules force him to keep a problem deputy on the payroll. He says he opposes the current termination process, in which an arbitrator can agree that an officer committed serious misconduct but still force the department to rehire them into the ranks.

“We don’t have places to hide people,” the sheriff says. “If you give them back to me they’re out stopping your daughters, your family, your wives, your husbands. They’re dealing with you. Do you really want them dealing with you?”

Knezovich proposes a new state law to specifically prohibit an arbitrator from concurring that an officer committed a crime, but still ordering the officer reinstated anyway.

“It’s a simple matter of upholding standards,” he says. “Allow us to uphold the standards and we can keep our house in order.”


The Bounds of Neutrality 

Despite efforts to free themselves from their constraints, the Spokane County Board of Commissioners still can’t take a stance on the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino. In 2010, Commissioners Bonnie Mager and Mark Richard signed an agreement with the city of Airway Heights requiring the board to remain neutral.

“The reason I signed the document is because I think we’ve left the tribes very few mechanisms to be able to sustain themselves,” Richard says.

Todd Mielke cast the lone dissenting vote.

“You don’t sign away your ability to participate before you have the details,” he says.

Mielke and Commissioner Al French had requested Airway Heights remove the paragraph requiring neutrality, but the city was unswayed. Even if the county is officially neutral, it hasn’t stopped officials from petitioning the Bureau of Indian Affairs with potential objections. In a letter sent last week, the county asked the bureau to review whether a recent court case — calling into question the way a casino’s money was split between municipalities — might invalidate the agreement entirely.

A second letter the county plans to send, Mielke says, is a public records request about the methodology of the casino’s environmental impact statement.

“Each of these environmental impact statements is supposed to be unique to the project,” Mielke says, but he believes the statement may have relied on generic boilerplate language.


Justice, Smarter

The way Smart Justice advocates see it, Spokane is on the cusp. We’ll either start doing things right when it comes to criminal justice, the thinking goes, or we’ll continuing doing them very wrong.

The group — composed of activists, lawyers and mental health and drug professionals — advocates for putting fewer non-violent offenders in jail, then using those cost savings to invest in more alternative programs, like home monitoring. To start figuring out exactly how to make that shift in Spokane County, they’re hosting a day-long public symposium Friday.

Presenters from all levels of the justice system will be on hand, includling Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub, who is scheduled for a talk on “de-escalating conflict with the mentally ill.”


Smart Justice Symposium • Fri, Nov. 9 from 8 am-5 pm • Northern Quest Resort & Casino • 1001 N. Hayford Rd. • $20-$35, scholarships available •


  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Rich Man, Poor Men
  • Rich Man, Poor Men

    Can the wealthiest U.S. president ever help the poorest U.S. citizens?
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • La Resistance
  • La Resistance

    Michael Moore, Congressional Democrats and local progressives: How they are resisting Donald Trump's agenda
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • Must-See TV?
  • Must-See TV?

    Alternatives to the inauguration (and how to make watching more fun if you have to)
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
Monster Jam

Monster Jam @ Spokane Arena

Jan. 27-29

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Jacob Jones

More by Daniel Walters

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 »

Most Commented On

  • One Free Shave

    Donald Trump might have merited a honeymoon with voters had he managed his transition better
    • Dec 29, 2016
  • The Landed and the White

    How Americans followed tradition when they voted for Trump
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment




green zone


Readers also liked…

  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • The Rachel We Knew
  • The Rachel We Knew

    EDITOR'S NOTE: How Rachel Dolezal came to write for the Inlander
    • Jun 18, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation