Spokane’s top cop looking forward to new year - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Spokane’s top cop looking forward to new year

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

Spokane Police are looking ahead to the new year.

It’s been a controversial time for the department after a city hall scandal involving former chief Frank Straub.

Craig Meidl took his place, but not without objection from local leaders. But now Meidl say he’s ready to move forward.

KHQ Local News Reporter Joe McHale met up with Chief Meidl to discuss what police have done right, what they can do better, and where he hopes to take the force in 2017.

“Our population is not going up enough to justify the increase in crime,” said Meidl. “I hope that when we are having this conversation in a year that we are seeing double digit decreases in property crimes.”

It’s the black eye of the department -- a lean force handcuffed by calls more pertinent than property crime like assault, robbery, or murder.

The result? Washington darted to one of the top states in the nation for property crime this year. Spokane is the poster child

“So they're [officers] not going to be able to go out there and get ahead of crime like they would if we were staffed how we would like to be,” said Meidl. “The ripple effect you’re going to see is it’s going to take longer for us to respond to calls because we don’t have the same number of officers until they’ve trained up.”

The force was able to close some of that manpower gap as they closed out 2016.

The department put in motion the hiring of four new neighborhood resource officers just this month. These cops are assigned to specific neighborhoods to help build relationships with the community.

“Those neighborhood resource officers are the tip of the spear for our community outreach,” said Meidl. “They deal with the problems that are long term or ongoing. The abandoned houses, the drug houses, and some of the areas of the neighborhood that are falling apart.”

Chief Meidl also says they are forming a vehicle theft task force for 2017 -- a team of officers dedicated to investigating stolen trucks, cars, and trailers.

“We have so many vehicle thefts or prowling where people leave keys in their cars, backpacks in their cars, this time of the year there are unlocked cars because they’re warming up and they go inside and 30 seconds go by and the car’s gone that quickly.”

Chief Meidl says vehicle theft and prowling are the most preventable crimes. He wants to help get the word out so that these types of crimes decrease.

“I hope they feel that this is safe community, a vibrant community, and they have a police department that cares about them,” said Meidl.

If you have suggestions about what you'd like to see from Spokane police next year, you can call the police station during business hours at 509.625.4100, or send them an email to spdwebmail@spokanepolice.org

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