DOJ Still Deciding Whether to Investigate SPD - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

DOJ Still Deciding Whether to Investigate SPD

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SPOKANE, Wash. - More than a year after former Spokane Mayor Mary Verner requested that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigate the Spokane Police Department's practices, the case is still being reviewed.

KHQ found out Friday that the request is still on the table but that officials at the DOJ in Washington D.C. have yet to make a decision.

In a press conference Thursday, U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby explained that the review is taking a long time, in part, because the DOJ is reviewing somewhere between 40 and 50 of the same cases across the country.

"They're very expensive to do and very time-consuming. And the issues in those other departments, I can tell you, involve a lot more officers than the issues we feel are involved here," he explained.

Verner said the investigation would be an audit designed to identify "patterns and practices" by the department that could lead to discrimination. The move was meant to boost public trust in the department.

Ormsby reminded the public that the U.S. Attorneys office is still supportive of a "patterns and practices" investigation but said his goal would be to make the Spokane Police Department function so well that a DOJ audit wouldn't be necessary.

Ormsby continued to say that it's important his office help SPD in technical areas if they wanted help. That is to say, federal experts or officials could help the force to build a better relationship with the community or perhaps with training. Helping without an audit, Ormsby said, is much less intrusive and far less costly.

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