When I agreed to take on this Investigative Journalism gig several years ago as an effort to fill in the gaps between what the local Mainstream Media was reporting and the facts surrounding what really goes on in Spokane and although my reporting has resulted in local MSM picking up on what I have reported in several stories the fact remains that in some cases what I report just isn’t considered newsworthy in the eyes of other Journalists who look down on me and basically consider me just another “blogger” with no journalism background or degree.
This is one of those stories you likely will never see reported in the local MSM because it involves some poor decision making on the part of several people and involves an exclusive deal between the Spokesman Review and Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich which has resulted in a lawsuit against the SR for their coverage of the Jeff Thurman Case.
Back on September 6, 2019, I gave the local MSM and the Public a heads up on who the players were in the Thurman v. Ozzie case thinking there might be some follow-up other than just mine.
As part of my looking into the Thurman case I did the normal PRR thingy, received a copy of Ozzie’s IA Case against Thurman, carefully reviewed it as I have hundreds of others, and concluded that Ozzie is going to have one heck of a problem proving Thurman actually did what Ozzie accused him of.
I would have thought, knowing Ozzie Knezovich like I do that any SR deal with him for an exclusive would have included a complete copy of the Ozzie’s IA Case against Thurman prior to a story being written so the SR could make a sound judgement on exactly what to report, but apparently that was not a part of the deal. IMO Tom Clouse is a good reporter and did a stellar job of reporting on the Karl Thompson, Otto Zehm case but his reporting on the Zehm case resulted in a tiff with a previous SR Editor and Clouse was banished to Sports for a while. I think if Clouse had read the Thurman IA Case prior to the SR story he may well have come to the same conclusion I did, and the reporting might have been different.
As is often the case Thurman’s lawsuit against the SR is based upon facts obtained during depositions in another case and as you can see from Thurman’s June 14, 2021, Amended Complaint which is based up information obtained under oath Thurman may have a good case against the SR.
If you took the time to read Thurman’s Amended Complaint, you might wonder exactly what “The Price of Honor” actually is when you consider these sections.
Another quite interesting fact in the whole Thurman case is that Thurman’s alleged victim Andrew (Drew) Richmond, the son of former SCSO Deputy, and now Airway Heights Chief of Police Brad Richmond along with his EEOC complaint also filed a lawsuit against Ozzie and Spokane County.
Another part of the background is when I was alerted through sources about what was going back in October of 2020 and even though I knew it would be a battle with the City of Spokane started the investigative process so that the public would know what the facts are. Even though I have provided tips to the local Mainstream Media via Twitter and Facebook posts they have been ignored so as in the past it is up to me.
When I learned back in October 2020 that Officer Conrath was the subject of an IA Investigation and there were allegations of sexual harassment on that part of Conrath toward young Rookie female SPD Officers going through the State Basic Law Enforcement Academy, as well as an investigation initiated by Chief Craig Meidl into his conduct stemming from his interaction with domestic violence victims that were well over a year old and in violation of the Police Guild Contract to keep Conrath from becoming a Sergeant I knew from the get go it would be a battle to get to the truth, and it was.
If you take the time to read the IA Report initiated by Chief Meidl on September 11, 2020, (C20-074) it should become pretty clear to you that once again my sources were very accurate and the case was just to keep Conrath from being a Sergeant even though Meidl knew full well that the case violated Mayor Woodward and the City Council’s really bad Guild Contract and he could not sanction Conrath for anything because of the contract’s one year statute of limitations on investigating IA Complaints.
Another interesting aspect of IA Case C20-074 is that during Conrath’s Loudermill Hearing Woodward’s Director of Human Resources Meghann Steinolfson was present knew about the complaints from the female LEOs going through the Basic Law Enforcement Academy and like SPD did nothing to investigate the complaints or even try and determine if they were intimidated in any way after making the complaints.
The link below will give you an idea of just how hard Mayor Woodward, City Attorney Michael Ormsby, and SPD Legal Advisor Mary Muramatsu worked at trying to keep the secret.
One of the big questions I have regarding the issue is whether or not the OPO was ever made aware of the BLEA complaints, hopefully we will find out.
Another big question I have is why with all the women in City Government including the Mayor and City Council why there isn’t some type of outrage over this, needless to say I have passed on to the CC what has been going on in this case and others and there has been little or no interest from them.
When you are a Cop and subject yourself to danger one of the things you should have the utmost confidence in is that your agency will take care of your family should something happen, and you die from injuries you receive in the line of duty. When you go on the job inevitably your wife will express her concern so you sit down usually more than once and explain to her if something does happen you and the kids will be taken care of, but you will have to jump through some minor hoops the agency will help you through.
Such is not the case with Mayor Woodward’s Administration and the facts are that instead of helping the grieving spouse and children of a fallen SPD Officer she has decided to spend of lot of taxpayer’s monies on fighting payments already approved to the family by paying a law firm to represent the City of Spokane in an effort to block those payments making things even harder on a fallen Officers family. In the recent case of extremely well liked and respected SPD Officer Jon “JD” Anderson Mayor Woodward has chosen to hire the law firm of Floyd & Kane, PLLC to fight a Labor and Industries May 10th, 2021, decision which provided the proper benefits to JD Anderson and his family, and beyond the L&I decision there was of course the Department of Justice decision which ruled the Anderson family was entitled to Fallen Officer Benefits.
Just how well liked and respected was JD Anderson? The local Mainstream Media pretty well covered that but not the back story.
The back story was never picked up by local MSM even though it involved issues the City of Spokane is still dealing with today.
Obviously when a Fallen Officer is memorialized on the Fallen Officer Memorial in front of the Public Safety Building it means a lot to the Officer’s family but not much apparently to Mayor Woodward.
Since the Spokane Police Guild endorsed and backed Mayor Woodward in her run for Mayor, I can’t help but wonder what their position is on this travesty. The excuses given by the City’s contracted lawyer Jon D Floyd to the family for appealing the L&I decision don’t hold water in my mind and of course will be the same excuses Mayor Woodward and Assistant Mayor Brian Coddington will come up with if pressed on the issue. There is little hope either for the family that the City Council would do much of anything since they are currently completely consumed in other issues and of course political posturing in lieu of the next Mayoral Election.
Why in the world would Politicians and Law Enforcement Leaders running Spokane want to somewhat revert back to a system that actually worked back in the day starting in the late 1960s but was ripped apart by the Politicians of yesteryear… everyone knows that the way things were done in the past were worthless.
Commissioner George Marlton said he’ll draw the line at more than one contract, which he said saves money by eliminating duplication.
“It provides more efficient services for the dollar,” Marlton said.
Of course, there is always the blame game unless there is real respect and constant communication between taxpayer funded organizations and Cops no matter whether services are centralized or de-centralized into so many different unaccountable mental health and drug addiction cottage industry entities making constant communication and interaction impossible.
Maybe it is just a matter of “Leaders” like Breean Beggs and Craig Meidl not being around Spokane when things worked well and folks like George Marlton and Steve (Cornbread) Hasson where in the Political Power structure.
“The city has funding for the effort thanks to the 2019 public safety levy approved by voters, according to Spokane City Council President Breean Beggs, who has long supported the concept.
“We just need police to say ‘yeah, we’ll hire them or contract them and here’s the (funding request),’ ” Beggs said.”
I sure don’t remember anything in the 2019 public safety levy that called for SPD to hire Mental Health Professionals, there was of course the good ole catchall “and allowing for other matters properly related thereto” which allows Politicians to use taxpayer’s dollars for anything they want no matter how dumb the expenditure might be. I suppose no one even considered that having SPD hiring Mental Health Professionals sure has heck could be a big conflict when it comes to getting privileged communications and records regarding treatment for mental health and drug addiction issues for an individual suspect of committing a crime…like Murder for example, but then again Politicians and Chiefs of Police never have to do those type of search warrants and never testified in a 3.5 hearing.
“Over the course of Meidl’s career in law enforcement, he said the quantity and scope of calls police respond to has “exploded.””
The truth is Meidl didn’t start his career in Spokane Law enforcement until January 31, 1994, and in all likelihood never did call Community Mental Health for assistance on a call, or for that matter probably never assisted Community Mental Health Pros when they asked for assistance with one of the 25 or so patients the folks at Community Mental Health had on their caseload, I seriously doubt he ever even made the trip down to 107 S. Division.