Sheriff requests reimbursement for Phillip Paul search - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Sheriff requests reimbursement for Phillip Paul search

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The sheriff's office and Spokane Valley Police spent $7,873.41 in costs associated with the sheriff's helicopter The sheriff's office and Spokane Valley Police spent $7,873.41 in costs associated with the sheriff's helicopter

SPOKANE, Wash. - In a letter to Governor Gregoire dated October 19, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich requested $37,521.91 from the state of Washington for the costs associated with the search for and eventual capture of Eastern State Hospital patient Phillip Paul.

The search for Paul lasted nearly four days after he walked away from ESH staff during an outing to the Spokane County Fair before turning himself in to law enforcement officers on a rural south-central Washington highway.

The letter to the governor comes after Knezovich announced in September that he would be sending a bill to the state.

In the initial breakdown of costs released by the sheriff's office in late September, the sheriff's office and Spokane Valley Police reported spending $20,834.88 in overtime and $7,873.41 in costs associated with the sheriff's helicopter, among other charges.

Knezovich wrote that the search caused the Sheriff's Office to spend money vital to the department during one of Spokane County's worst economic periods and happened at a time when "the Sheriff's Office is struggling to maintain critical public safety services."

In the letter, Knezovich acknowledged that pursuing and arresting escaped individuals is a function of law enforcement, but added that the manhunt for Paul should have never happened.

"This incident was preventable and was the result of a severe systematic breakdown of leadership and a flawed policy shift at Eastern State Hospital," wrote Knezovich. "There were several indicators that Mr. Paul should not have been allowed out of his hospital ward, let alone taken on a field trip."

Knezovich also told Gregoire that the amount requested is only slightly more than the amount of funds the Sheriff's Office needs to keep School Resource Deputies in area high schools. He said he is now faced with a deficit that is nearly double what is was to keep that program funded.

Knezovich said he expects a reply to his letter within a week.

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