Friday, August 1, 2014
The mayor and city council have announced their recommendations for who should make up the new five-member commission that will oversee Spokane's police ombudsman and has been touted as an unprecedented level of civilian oversight of the department.
The council has nominated Adrian Dominguez, an adjunct professor at Eastern and an epidemiologist at the Spokane Regional Health District, from District 3; pastor and progressive activist Deb Conklin from District 2; and Scott Richter, a former intern in the Office of Police Ombudsman. The mayor recommends Rachel Dolezal, an Africana education professor at Eastern and Inlander commentator, and Kevin Berkompas, an Air Force veteran who runs a consulting company that offers advice on "defense-related products," among other things. See portions of their applications below.
The city held meetings about the issue in April and began taking applications in May. To appoint the commission, the city council was required to choose one applicant from each council district; the mayor's picks could be from any district. Those chosen will now undergo background checks and then their appointments must be approved by a vote of the city council.
The creation of the commission comes after last year's ugly battle over just how much independence the Office of Police Ombudsman should have. The police contract approved in February established the commission and was considered a compromise. While the ombudsman himself still investigates citizen complaints within the police department's Internal Affairs process, in cases where he believes the department is not adequately investigating, the commission will be able to demand further investigation or call in a third party to look at the case. The commission will also hire the ombudsman.
Here are each of the five nominees' answers to the questions asked on the application, including why they're interested and what sorts of interactions they've had with police. Some applicants also included additional documents, like résumés or letters of recommendation.