Mayor Condon Restarts Police Chief Search; Interim Chief Stephens Not A Candidate

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Spokane Mayor David Condon announced he will not be hiring anyone within the ranks of the Spokane Police Department in his search for a new Police Chief.

In a press conference Friday, Condon announced he was re-launching the search for the city's Police Chief position with the intent of finding a candidate that possessed four main qualities: a "solid understanding of metro policing models, experience in implementing cutting-edge policing techniques and approaches, the ability to be comfortable in the public eye, and the desire to integrate him or herself into the Spokane Community."

The Mayor explained that no one within the Spokane Police Department will be considered since they do not have extensive experience or a specific understanding of metro policing models. That means Interim Police Scott Stephens will not be applying for the position despite that he previously announced an interest in the job.

Stephens was appointed Interim Chief by the Mayor in early January after former Chief Anne Kirkpatrick retired. He has worked for the department for 26 years.

The Mayor established the list of candidate qualities based on input from citizens in the community.

"Restoring public confidence in our Spokane Police Department remains my highest priority. I believe we now have a solid understanding of what our community wants in a new Chief, and we are in a good position to attract top talent to run our department," Mayor Condon said in a statement.

The City previously sought applicants for the position of Police Chief primarily between November and mid-February. About a dozen people applied for the job but the Mayor wanted a larger and more diverse pool to select potential candidates. He also wanted to learn about the qualities our citizens would value in a new Chief.

"Our next Chief will need to lead us through ongoing reforms and continue to enhance our effectiveness," the Mayor says. "This is a very important position at the City."

Applications are due by June 30.

The Mayor said the city is developing a detailed selection process with a number of interview panels. He is hopeful he will be able to name a new Chief in August.



HUMAN RESOURCES AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT: In addition to a search for a new Police Chief, the Mayor is implementing several new infrastructure and organizational changes including consolidating its Human Services and Community Development departments. The Mayor is making these changes, he said, as part of ongoing work to improve service to the community and more effectively use resources.

The Mayor said Michael Cannon will lead a task force that will advise him on how to combine the departments and assist with finding an individual to lead the combined department. The task force also will look at model for collaboration between the three citizen advisory boards that serve departments-the Community Development Board, the Human Service Advisory Board, and the Regional Homeless Governance Council.

Cannon is the Vice Chair of the City's Community Development Board and also served on the Quality of Life Committee of the Mayor's Transition Team.

"We have the ability to make a greater impact by looking at the issues of housing, homelessness, and better neighborhoods in a global way," the Mayor said in a statement.

The City's Human Services and Community Development departments manage a variety of federal grants as well as state grants and local funding to increase the availability of affordable housing, reduce homelessness, and improve low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Increasingly, the federal government is looking to fund communities that take a more holistic approach to addressing these needs. As a result, the City has been working more with our social service agencies and housing providers and has begun issuing single requests for proposals for funding from several grant sources.

Timing of the consolidation also happens to coincide with the planned retirement of long-time City Community Development Director, Mike Adolfae. Adolfae has scheduled his retirement for later this summer.

Combining the Human Services and Community Development departments was recommended by the Quality of Life Committee of the Mayor's Transition Team and by community leaders in these areas. The committee also recommended cluster a number of services focused on community and neighborhood services.

Earlier this year, the City created the Community & Neighborhood Services Division, which includes City's Neighborhood Services, Code Enforcement, Community Development, Human Services, and East Central Community Center programs, along with a new initiative aimed at enhancing customer service.


INFRASTRUCTURE AND UTILITY SERVICES: Condon also announced organizational changes to improve the management of the City of Spokane's public infrastructure and utility services.

"As a City, our citizens have invested billions of dollars in our utilities and infrastructure, creating tremendous community assets," Mayor Condon said in a statement. "We are making changes to ensure ongoing quality services at a time of tighter and tighter budgets. We must operate more efficiently and maintain these critical assets for our future health."

The organizational plan calls for the City's major utilities-water, wastewater, and solid waste-along with fleet services to form a streamlined division. The Street Department, which had been grouped with those departments, would join an area of the City that already manages street capital construction projects. And design engineers throughout the City would be centralized.

These changes compliment a move toward improved real estate asset management that was announced last week. As part of that move, the City is working to take a comprehensive approach to managing its 1,600 parcels of land. It is eliminating its real estate program and will seek professional real estate assistance from the private sector as needed.

Rick Romero, currently the City's internal auditor, is being tapped to lead the Utility Division. Romero has been working on a 90-day assessment of the utilities' current and future budgets to provide quality services and meet regulation requirements while maintaining affordable rates. He was also instrumental in the West Plains annexation, the development of the property-evidence room, and other major projects.

Previously, Romero worked at EWU for 28 years, the last 10 as Vice President for Business Services. Romero's appointment by the Mayor would need to be confirmed by the City Council.

Gerry Gemmill, currently acting Division Director of the current larger division called Public Works & Utilities, will be moved into a new position to lead consolidation projects with Spokane County and other local jurisdictions and assist with labor relations and negotiations. Cost savings and improved services are the goals of these efforts, which also will help the City deal with tight budgets. His title will be Director of Local Government & Labor Relations.

Meanwhile, the City's Street Department would become part of the Business & Developer Services Division, which is led by Jan Quintrall and already contains the Engineering Services Department, which manages infrastructure capital projects completed by private-sector contractors. The Street Department provides complimentary street maintenance services, including snow removal, leaf pickup, pothole repair and other pavement repair work, street striping, sign installation, and traffic signal management, among other things.

And, all design engineering functions will be centralized also within the Engineering Services Department, with engineers from each of the utilities moving to that centralized department.

Further, the City's economic development specialists located in the small Business & Development Services Department will move to the Planning Department to add economic development expertise to zoning and planning efforts. The Department's Director, Teresa Brum, will take a temporary assignment within the Community & Neighborhood Services Division to head up special projects. Initially, she will be working on a study of affordable housing in our community.

"We are seeking efficiency by placing like services together, fostering coordination and collaboration," says Mayor Condon. "We must take every opportunity to be innovative and forward-thinking. We are committed to making organizational changes that enhance our strengths and create a City government that is more nimble."

The changes are beginning to be implemented now, with the work completed in time for the new budget year, 2013.


ENHANCED CUSTOMER SERVICE CENTER: Following initial evaluations and draft plans, Mayor Condon settled on a plan to create an enhanced customer service center on the first floor of City Hall. He said the center will be phased in over time and will include reassigning staff from other parts of the City to deliver services in the new center. Plus, the Mayor said the city will likely generate some savings from eliminating positions that will no longer be needed as a result of the changes.

"The City of Spokane exists to serve its citizens; we want it to be easy to do business in City Hall," said Mayor Condon in a statement.

The Mayor said five employees will be moved from other departments to work in the customer service area by this August. He said they will be cross-trained to handle multiple transactions for the community. In addition to answering customer questions, he said they will process utility payments and greet City Hall visitors.

Initially, the employees will handle three transactions with the highest customers demand including paying a utility bill, paying a parking ticket, and registering for a recreation class or event.

He said more customer transactions will be added at the center throughout 2012, including making a public records request, receiving City employment information, and applying for a special events permit. Building permits and related permits still will be issued on the third floor of City Hall.

As part of the project, clutter and unnecessary signage will be removed. Some employees will be moved to other locations within City Hall and space will be freed up as conference space for citizen meetings.

The customer service center also will complement planned changes to the City's web sites that will make it easier for citizens to interact with the City online. That work is ongoing.

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