Friday, June 11, 2010

Spokane's police ombudsman now online

Posted on Fri, Jun 11, 2010 at 2:16 PM

Spokane's Office of Police Ombudsman, the eight-month-old experiment in civilian oversight of police conduct, now has its own website: where people can file complaints.

The site has contact information, forms to fill out electronically (or print out), frequently asked questions, and some biography of Ombudsman Tim Burns.

The site has been a goal of Burns' for several months, adding another way that people with concerns about police conduct — or who have commendations for good police work — can make their voices heard without going directly to the PD.

There is a document tab that so far contains Burns' first annual report (covering the final months of 2009) and his monthly reports to the City Council's Public Safety Committee. Open the April 19-May 17 report (pdf), for instance, and find the surprising revelation that two complaints have been made against the Ombudsman. One is internal (either an officer or Internal Affairs, disputing a policy interpretation), the other is external (most likely from citizen, complaining that Burns refused to amend a complaint).

Burns also reveals that his review of police taser use is ongoing and that he is forming an ad hoc committee to help evaluate police practices.

The ombudsman office continues to be tweaked in its first year. The City Council on Monday will make a first reading of an ordinance designed to expand the office's authority for independent investigation of complaints. A vote is expected June 21.

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