SPOKANE, Wash. – The Spokane City Council confirmed Craig Meidl on Monday night as the new chief of the Spokane Police Department.
At the Monday night meeting, Meidl fielded questions from City Council about how he would run the department.
“I’m thankful I’ve gone through the process,” said Meidl before he was appointed. He said it made him feel more “legitimate.” Spokane Mayor David Condon originally appointed Meidl without having him go through the formal application process, only for the City Council to demand they do another formal search.
“We all want to live in a safe community,” said Meidl. He said he hoped to continue doing “21st century policing.”
Councilwoman Amber Waldref asked him what he meant by that, and he responded he plans to hire more women and people of color. He said he plans to send recruiters to events around the country.
“It’s been a long year,’ said Waldref. “We are responsible to the citizens of Spokane that we do have a proper vetting for these very important positions.”
“I think this probably is the most citizen engagement for any vetting process that I can think of,” Waldref said. “I think ultimately though…Craig is committed to the community.”
Meidl was selected from a pool of four candidates. Meidl said he plans to first select a command staff and then continue with a cultural audit. In addition to the audit, Meidl said the police department is also participating in a research project that looks at whether or not officers disproportionately stop minorities.
“Once those results are done we will work with the community that's impacted by those disproportionate contacts, look at that data, look at our policies, procedures, training, and help us determine are there things that are creating this environment where this is occurring, are there things we need to change,” said Meidl.
Meidl said he will work to increase trust and faith in the Spokane Police Department. He is working on a reconciliation process to address the incident in which he saluted the only officer charged in the beating of Otto Zehm.
The City Council voted 5-1 to approve Meidl. Councilwoman Karen Stratton voted no, and Councilman Breean Beggs abstained.
This story has been updated.