Spokane, WA – 4/3/16 – The Spokane County Sheriff Citizen Advisory Board (CAB) in conjunction with the Spokane County Sheriff is proud to announce the completion of a “Peer Review Audit” of the CAB, which was conducted by Kathryn Olson of Change Integration Consulting LLC. The CAB and Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich had requested this format to review CAB practices, solicit feedback from stakeholders, garner input from the community at a designated forum, and implementation of appropriate recommendations by the consultant on best practices being utilized nationally. The document in its entirety may be found on the CAB website at http://www.spokanecounty.org/sheriff/CAB/.
Ms. Olson praised the CAB and Sheriff Knezovich for being proactive in initiating the review and commitment to identifying and following oversight best practices. She passed along the support of the majority of stakeholders she met with and efforts by the CAB’s devoted volunteers, and contributions to accountability and transparency, furthering constructive oversight of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. She lauded the recent update of their bylaws in 2015, education and outreach to the community, increased involvement with the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE), and Sheriff Knezovich’s commitment to accountability.
The project consultant met with Government entities, stakeholders, and the general public on April 11 and 12, 2016. Various community organizations that are active in community oversight of law enforcement participated as well. They included the Center for Justice, Peace and Justice Action League, Smart Justice Spokane, NAACP, and the Native Project to name a few. The public forum was held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane, 4340 W. George Wright Dr., Spokane, WA, on April 12th.
Kathryn Olson is a leading advocate for police accountability, with broad experience in managing and accessing complaint investigation systems. She understands that the complaint process must be integrated into police risk management strategies, policy and training reviews, and community relations. Kathryn appreciates the importance of involving all stakeholders in efforts to increase law enforcement accountability, transparency, and legitimacy.
After twenty years of overseeing individual and systemic employment discrimination litigation, Kathryn served six years as the civilian director of the Seattle Police Department’s Office of Professional Accountability (OPA), including a period of scrutiny of Seattle’s use of force by the Department of Justice. OPA’S investigations were found to be “thorough, well-organized, well-documented, and thoughtful.” She has managed complex, sensitive investigations and is well versed in distinct issues associated with police misconduct allegations.
Kathryn now provides consulting and training on civilian oversight and police policies and practices that can undermine professionalism. Recent projects include an end-to-end analysis of the complaint and discipline process at a large federal law enforcement agency and an assessment of stakeholder interests in civilian oversight for a municipality. She also is co-author of a police misconduct investigations manual to be published in early 2016.
In 2015, Kathryn co-directed the first academic symposium sponsored by the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE), along with the Seattle University School of Law and Criminal Justice Department. The event brought together criminal justice scholars, law enforcement and government leaders, oversight practitioners, and community representatives to collaborate on ways to enhance fair and effective policing. Related articles were published in the Criminal Justice Policy Review, including an introduction by Kathryn and her co-director.
Kathryn is active in NACOLE, served on the NACOLE Board and as president for two years, is on the President’s Advisory Committee, hosted the 2010 NACOLE annual conference in Seattle, frequently contributes to the NACOLE newsletter, and regularly presents at NACOLE conferences and other training events.
The CAB was formed in the spring of 2000 by then Sheriff Mark Sterk as a sounding board for changes in policy and procedures, new equipment education, and provided information on several major cases to give feedback. It is a separate entity from the Sheriff’s department and is charged to work independently as an advisory and review board. Board membership of the CAB is a diverse and broad-based representation of the community-at-large within Spokane County. Membership is comprised of not less than 15 or more than 19 “board appointed” individuals. Members receive no remuneration or benefits from their service and serve strictly on a voluntary basis. Meetings are open to the public and will be posted on the Sheriff’s website, Face book, and CAB webpage. Member’s names, agendas, minutes, appeal procedures, and other important information will be found there as well. It can be reached at http://www.spokanecounty.org/sheriff/CAB/ .
While the CAB has strived over the years to make positive contributions to oversight of the SCSO, Ms. Olson pointed out there were always ways to improve. In soliciting feedback from stakeholders several common themes emerged including: 1) Independence and Authority; 2) Transparency; 3) Community Representation; 4) Access to SCSO Information; 5) Increased Community Engagement; and 6) Adequate Funding.
She also offered additional recommendations to improve the CAB structure, processes, and increased authority. These included: 1) Revising membership recruitment and selection, term limits, and increasing member diversity; 2) Re-branding the CAB name and create consistency with the public; 3) Adoption of the NACOLE Code of Ethics; 4) Review of CAB processes, clarification on how cases are reviewed; 5) How complaints are accepted from the public; and 6) Sharing of resources with the Spokane Police Department Ombudsman Office.
Ms. Olson’s two largest recommendations included the CAB presence in Internal Affairs investigations and creating a paid staff position. CAB authority should be expanded to complaints against Non-sworn employees and possible expansion of established Use of Force Tracking Systems.
Sheriff Knezovich was excited to have Ms. Olson visit and perform the review. He stated earlier, “I look forward to working with Kathryn in a review of our citizen advisory/review board in order to establish best practices for law enforcement oversight under the laws regulating Counties in the State of Washington.” “I am committed to our processes and providing our citizens with transparency, accountability, and input to our department.”