Unwinding one of former chief Frank Straub’s signature achievements, the Spokane Police Department is no longer pursuing a plan to create decentralized police precincts.

As most people know since Straub arrived in Spokane and first started touting a Precinct Model for SPD I have continually pointed out what an idiotic idea it was and is. The wasted dollars and resources devoted to this scam will never be recovered and for anyone to claim it was an achievement is just plain nuts.

I guess the best place to start this piece is to explain in the simplest of terms the difference between Real Community Oriented Policing and Phony Community Oriented Policing.

Real COP is simply “boots on the ground”, as many as possible, interacting in a positive way with the Community they serve.

Phony COP is cops sitting in a cushy office somewhere sipping on a Latte and telling stories about all the great things they have done on the job.

The Spokane Police Department during the time Terry Mangan was Chief became a national model for Community Oriented Policing which was studied by several independent groups including Harvard’s Kennedy Center. All of those studies chronicled the extremely positive impact our model had not only on crime fighting but also the positive Police-Community relationship it brought about. The culture audits conducted by WSU during that time clearly demonstrated a department full of satisfied cops and a community not only satisfied with THEIR Police Department, but actually proud of it. One of the big reasons the model was so successful is because Mangan understood that the people who really knew how to accomplish the objective were the people who actually dealt directly with the Community, not him, not some Brass siting behind a desk, but the “Doers” , so he gave us our head and it was the Doers who developed and implemented the programs.

So what happened, where did things go wrong? Well the answer is simple a change in Policing Philosophy from SERVICE to the attitude of “US AGAINST THEM” which gained more and more traction during the Anne Kirkpatrick reign and reached its highest level during the Frank Straub reign. Yes, to a lesser extent budget constraints created problems but those problems WERE NOT ot the magnitude Politicians and Police Administrators would like you to believe.

Lets get to a few facts as it relates to the Frank Straub, Mayor Condon, and the City Council’s much touted “Precinct Model”

  • Unlike major metropolitan cities Spokane is not densely populated, travel from point to point via car is relatively easy even during the winter months especially running code.
  • Whether a cop picks up his patrol unit at the public safety building, a cushy precinct, the local Starbucks, or is provided a take home unit there is only one place for that unit to be during the shift and that is in the assigned district fighting crime and resolving problems.
  • COP Shops are located throughout Spokane where walk-in reports, and many other law enforcement services are available and if there is a significant problem requiring an officer there darn well should be a unit very close to one of the COP shops.
  • There is not one bit of data demonstrating that the Downtown precinct has made any difference in Downtown problems or crimes compared to the old school cops in units and cops on walking beats both of which started their shift at the Public Safety Building. The very same is true of the Hillyard Precinct.
  • Once Straub hit town he made public statements that he wanted out of the PSB he wanted Police Headquarters moved preferably somewhere Downtown, he even had a trusted Lieutenant researching sites including one sight just a few blocks away from the PSB. Why you might ask. The answer to that is obvious, he wanted his private domain completely disassociated from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
  • WE have and continue to spend thousands, upon thousands of dollars for sophisticated communications equipment including in car laptops for report writing and call dispatch the purpose of which was to keep cops out in the community working and NOT sitting in a precinct shooting the bull.
  • Money to support the “Precinct Model” including the purchase of fancy new furniture was taken from the Forfeiture and Contributions Fund which very well may be a violation of State law.

That is enough for now but there is quite a bit more. Now lets look at the Spokesman Review Article and add some truth.


“Unwinding one of former chief Frank Straub’s signature achievements, the Spokane Police Department is no longer pursuing a plan to create decentralized police precincts.”

The question here is what does “Unwinding” mean? Obviously “Unwinding” doesn’t mean putting an end to an expensive, ill conceived program that hurts rather than helps Community Oriented Policing which is made very clear in the second paragraph of the article.


“The department will continue to staff the two precincts already created in Hillyard and downtown Spokane and search for a “storefront” location on the South Hill, Interim Chief Rick Dobrow said. The change doesn’t mean an end to neighborhood policing, he said.”

“Instead, Dobrow plans to operate current precincts as “storefronts” for residents to bring concerns to police, but will move patrol operations back under a centralized command, a shift he says is administrative.”

If this is “Unwinding” I’ll eat my hat. No need for a “storefront” Dobrow there is a COP Shop located at 2809 E. 29th, if a cop needs to take a leak or a dump they can go there, otherwise they should be on the street. Besides Rick the South Hill has the lowest crime rate in the City so quit trying to placate the South Hill Crowd.



“We don’t have the staffing levels, nor do we have the financial resources to decentralize,” Dobrow said.

Here it comes folks! The truth is SPD has the highest staffing number of Commissioned Officers (305) and the highest number of high paid Brass and Exempts (the exact numbers aren’t readily available) ever. If you believe “Straub Data” (which no one should) crime is down in Spokane. Time to get real and honest Dobrow.

There is always talk about the COPS/DOJ Review of SPD but does anyone really pay attention to it?

Step number one, before anything else, and more real dumb decision making on SPD’s part is simple. COPS/DOJ Recommendation 10.5 which must be done independent of the SPD as has been done in the past (Matrix Report) or it will be your typical BS and then some.

Recommendation 10.5

SPD should conduct a staffing analysis to determine if the department is meeting its operational needs and has an adequate amount of staff to ensure its continued mission, objectives, and community policing principles.

SPD should conduct a staffing analysis. This analysis should follow the workload-based model. This model will allow SPD to examine the “levels of demand for police services and matches that demand with the supply for police resources:’143 In addition to examining calls for service received, this model also examines other “operational demands facing the department” 144 (e.g., police activities league [PAL], community meetings, training) and makes staffing determinations based on these findings.

  1. Culver, 2014. “Sheriff, Spokane Police Department hard pressed.”
  1. Wilson, Jeremy, and Alexander 2012. A Performance-Based Approach to Pa/ice Staffing and Allocation. Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. http://ric-zai-inc.com/ric.php ?page=detail&id=COPS-P247.
    1. McCabe, (n.d.). An Analysis of Police Department Staffing: How many officers doyou really need?W hite paper prepared for International City/County Management Association, Center for Public Safety Management. http://icma.org/Documents/Document/Document/305747.


Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder, who chairs the committee, said the move was welcome after multiple shifts in strategy at the police department over the past few years.

“It finally seems like we’re starting to settle in a little bit of a direction,” he said.

That said, Snyder said he supports decentralization in the police department.

“I like us having a little bit of decentralization so we’re not all in the Public Safety Building,” he said.

Jon Snyder you don’t have a clue and as Chair of the PSC you were as responsible as anyone for allowing the mess. You were warned time and time again. Stick to something you know like riding bikes, climate change, and all that stuff.


“We are so call-for-service driven that they had bodies, but they didn’t really have the time to focus on neighborhood issues,” Dobrow said of the patrol officers.

The truth is no one actually knows whether Dobrow’s statements are true and there is NO independent data available to support his claim. Most Law Enforcement Experts agree that “Proactive” patrol time should be between 40-50% anything below 35% is disgraceful and demonstrates a complete lack of leadership and accountability, refer to COPS/DOJ Recommendation 10.5. WE JUST DON’T KNOW FOLKS.


“Precinct captains have been busy with neighborhood issues, he said, so moving officer supervision to a centralized captain will promote better accountability.”

“We’re still doing the captain kind of being the face of SPD” in each neighborhood, he said.

The fact is there are so many Captains on the SPD they don’t know exactly what to do with them all. “neighborhood issues” have to be dealt with and solved at the Patrolman, Detective, Sergeant, and Lieutenant level but primarily at the Patrolman/Detective level because they are the problem solvers not some Captain sitting behind a desk somewhere occasionally going to meetings to stoke the Community with the narrative of the month.


Certainly not a literary master piece but I think you get my point…SPD is still in big trouble and my two year recovery estimate may well be short by a year or two.


4 thoughts on “Unwinding one of former chief Frank Straub’s signature achievements, the Spokane Police Department is no longer pursuing a plan to create decentralized police precincts.

  1. Thanks for keeping us up to date! So much better than SR.
    In regards to the downtown precinct – I was waiting for a bus last month when a women with some mental health issues was arguing with the driver I wanted to board. Two of the downtown cops got on with the STA security guys, but then FOUR additional squad cars showed up with lights flashing. She wasn’t even being violent, just yelling. In the end, she stayed on the bus and they just walked away. Left me wondering why they felt the need to tie up so many resources!

    Liked by 1 person

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