Spokane law enforcement recognized for work with domestic violence survivors

During its fifth annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Breakfast yesterday, the YWCA recognized seven local law enforcement officers for going beyond the call of duty to help survivors of domestic violence.

About a quarter of all criminal cases in Spokane County each year are domestic violence related, according to numbers compiled by Spokane Regional Health District. Those cases create 3,900 domestic violence victims in Spokane each year.

This year, the YWCA recognized officers Todd Brownlee, Sam Chimienti and Shawn Tylock, Detective Mike McNees, deputies Darrin Powers and Greg Snyder and Detective Mike Ricketts, who received the second annual Jackie Bell Award, named for Jacqueline Bell, a local legal advocate who died in February 2017.


During yesterday's ceremony, YWCA staff said a few words about each officer. Here is what they had to say (lightly edited for clarity and length):

Officer Brownlee:
Domestic violence is a cycle that's hard to break. Women often feel like they have to stay.

When one survivor said she was thinking about fleeing for her safety but that she was hesitant to do so, Officer Brownlee assured her that she was doing the right thing for her and her child, and that she was strong no matter what she chose to do, and that she didn't deserve to be treated the way she was being.

It had such an impact on her that she packed that night and left. Officer Brownlee helped empower a young woman to stand up for her safety and the safety of her child.


Officer Chimienti
Domestic violence survivors have plenty of barriers to justice. Some clients face even more barriers, like being an immigrant, or a non-native English speaker or being the single parent of a daughter with disabilities.

One client experienced all of those barriers. Her perpetrator wrote her a note in Spanish, violating a protection order and left it in her car at the YWCA parking lot. It was late in the day and she had her daughter with her.

She likely would not have been able to make the report if she had to wait for Crime Check. Acknowledging this, Officer Chimienti took time out of his day to interview the client, take the report, take photos of the note, write up the report and explain the next steps to the client. Then he even helped get her daughter's wheelchair in her car and safely plan with her. This kind of compassion and dedication to the work validates the injustices our clients experience and increases their trust and compassion with law enforcement.

Detective McNees:
click to enlarge Detective McNees - COURTESY OF THE SPOKANE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
Courtesy of the Spokane County Sheriff's Office
Detective McNees

We had a client who was extremely escalated and highly traumatized one afternoon. She had a little boy with her who had terrible bruises but with her level of escalation it did not make sense to call Crime Check. Detective McNees graciously cleared his entire afternoon to sit down with this young woman and listen to her story. He was so patient and kind with her.

He carefully took photos of the little boy. He even got the boy to smile and laugh and got the young woman to talk about how much she loved her son.


The team worked together for hours — which was very trying, but Detective McNees wasn't phased. He was going to stay in the room until he could ensure that he had enough information to find probable case to keep this woman and her son safe.

Deputy Snyder:
click to enlarge Deputy Snyder - COURTESY OF THE SPOKANE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
Courtesy of the Spokane County Sheriff's Office
Deputy Snyder
Nearly every Monday and Thursday afternoon, you can find Deputy Snyder in courtroom 202. He is remarkably aware of the relationships, tension and needs while monitoring the civil protection order docket.

Time after time, I have personally watched Deputy Snyder confirm the whereabouts of respondents in these cases, reassure petitioners and juggle managing multiple courtrooms when the docket is divided.


In the times where there is an agitated respondent, he is quick to shift his attention while remaining calm and approachable.

Deputy Snyder is always willing to escort a petitioner when needed or bring in additional officers to assist in these courtrooms. He is abundantly patient with all involved.

Deputy Powers:
click to enlarge Deputy Powers - COURTESY OF THE SPOKANE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
Courtesy of the Spokane County Sheriff's Office
Deputy Powers

Deputy Powers does not respond to many domestic violence calls, as he is a commercial vehicle enforcement deputy, but he was nominated by our Safe Shelter staff this year. However, he was called to respond to a welfare check on a young non-English speaking woman.

Early on, Deputy Powers recognized that the woman was minimizing her situation, appeared to be scared and resistant to cooperation with law enforcement — non of which is unusual for domestic violence victims.

Deputy Powers made sure to screen the woman into services and connected her with a shelter advocate. He spent 15 minutes on the phone with an advocate, which is the LONGEST recorded call between shelter staff and officers. He worked diligently to connect the woman with services despite the large language barrier and her apprehension.

Officer Tylock:
Debilitating mental illnesses coupled with the trauma of being a domestic violence survivor can especially impact the quality of law enforcement interactions. One particular client suffered from severe anxiety and PTSD that prevented her from effectively detailing the abuse she faced.

Officer Tylock was so patient, reassuring and compassionate with this client that days later she was able to walk into the YWCA and fill out a petition for a protection order. Though her anxiety and PTSD still affected her, she was able to repeat over and over again that it would be OK because Officer Tylock had told her so. He helped her feel safe and validated her concerns.

Detective Ricketts:
click to enlarge Detective Ricketts - COURTESY OF THE SPOKANE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
Courtesy of the Spokane County Sheriff's Office
Detective Ricketts

Detective Ricketts is a seriously special person. Multi-dimensional doesn't quite fit the bill. Detective Ricketts, at times, is goofy, hard-working, serious, compassionate, fun and intelligent. He's a confidante, friend and advocate.

You will be hard pressed to find someone who works a case so diligently, especially when the situation is highly dangerous to the victim. You will be hard pressed to find someone who cares so intensely for every single domestic violence survivor regardless of their position, class or creed. He is so kind and respectful with every client. He is incredibly passionate about eradicating domestic violence in our community because he's seen first hand far too many people hurt or killed because of it.

During its fifth annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Breakfast yesterday, the YWCA recognized seven local law enforcement officers for going beyond the call of duty to help survivors of domestic violence.

About a quarter of all criminal cases in Spokane County each year are domestic violence related, according to numbers compiled by Spokane Regional Health District. Those cases create 3,900 domestic violence victims in Spokane each year.

This year, the YWCA recognized officers Todd Brownlee, Sam Chimienti and Shawn Tylock, Detective Mike McNees, deputies Darrin Powers and Greg Snyder and Detective Mike Ricketts, who received the second annual Jackie Bell Award, named for Jacqueline Bell, a local legal advocate who died in February 2017.

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About The Author

Mitch Ryals

Mitch covers cops, crime and courts for the Inlander. He moved to Spokane in 2015 from his hometown of St. Louis, and is a graduate of the University of Missouri. He likes bikes, beer and baseball. And coffee. He dislikes lemon candy, close-mindedness and liars. And temperatures below 40 degrees.