City confident moving forward with new ombudsman - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

City confident moving forward with new ombudsman

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Tim Burns announced his retirement as ombudsman on Friday. Tim Burns announced his retirement as ombudsman on Friday.
SPOKANE, Wash. -

In many ways, Tim Burns wrote the book on police oversight for Spokane, but after five and a half years Spokane faces a new chapter with a new city ombudsman.

Burns announced Friday that he will retire from his role as the liaison between the citizens, city and police department.

“It was difficult,” Burns said. “I have mixed emotions."

As Burns heads to California to spend more time with his wife and children, the city is now scrambling to find a replacement.

“It puts the citizens and the city in a little bit of a pickle,” City Councilman Mike Fagan said. “Until the ombudsman commission is able to rebound without an ombudsman how are we going to deal with internal investigations until we have a replacement.”

But perhaps six months ago this resignation would have been a bigger issue than it is today, because of the ombudsman citizen oversight commission that began meeting in October. That committee will need to pick up where Burns left off in the coming weeks and months as the city finds an interim ombudsman, and then searches for a permanent person for the role.

"This will test our resolve and our strength,” Mayor David Condon said. “But in many ways the stage has been set so we can take on this transition. And many of the policies are in place to do that.”

Some would say the timing of Burns' resignation is bizarre, given the Spokane Police body camera pilot program that will end December 31. However, Burns says that has nothing to do with his decision.

“There are so many checks and balances now,” Burns said, specifically referring to the commission. “It can only get better from here.”

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