Here is the email PJALS Director Liz Moore sent to city council members. You can send your own message to [email protected]
Good morning. I am on a camping trip with my family and will not be at city council tonight, so I am sharing my thoughts from beside the lake.
I have been watching correspondence shared by others and reading news stories while out of town.
I was especially struck by Mary Ann Murphy sharing that she, as the chair of the police leadership advisory committee, agreed with other members that if the right candidate was not found, the search would need to be restarted.
Unfortunately, I think that is the situation we are in.
One reason this has taken a great deal of thought for me is that it is hard to evaluate candidates who do not sit beside other candidates and answer the same questions. As city council members, that is certainly not your doing, but it does reflect the bad situation Mayor Condon has put us all in. I appreciate very much your commitment to community process and the two events that you held.
After attending the first Forum, before I left town to attend a conference on police accountability, I found myself thinking about Craig Meidl: “well, it could be worse.” He seems authentic and comfortable with himself. But then I said to myself, Spokane doesn’t just deserve something that could be worse.
It was my feeling that the police leadership advisory committee did a very good job pulling together input from so many community members about what we want in our next police chief. I reread parts of that set of recommendations , as I imagine you have leading up to this decision. One place where Meidl does not meet those is in terms of demonstrated leadership on racial equity. This is so critical in our community and other communities around the country. We really need someone who can lead on racial equity in the police department’s practices and policies and in the criminal justice system. I do not see readiness nor demonstrated skill in this area from Meidl.
At the forum I attended, he had the opportunity to answer a question on this topic and spoke of how one of his black friends taught him the importance of acknowledging racist history in this country. Meidl seemed very sincere in articulating this learning moment he had experienced. I certainly respect that very much and hope that all of us white people will be authentic and sincere and seek out learning moments continuously. However, and I say this with great appreciation for every learning moment, that is not the kind of learning moment that we need our next police chief to be at. We need our next police chief to have a firm and complex understanding of historical racism and current structural and systemic racism and other oppressions that intersect with policing.
Also, it did seem to me that he used his sincere religious beliefs and practices to give simplistic answers and to sidestep legitimate and important questions about process. I agree with Tim Connor that he should not have accepted the position outside a process. We need a police chief with excellent judgement and who can say no to the mayor when appropriate.
And of course, I am very troubled by his involvement in support for officer Karl Thompson. I do not find his answers about his email to other officers sufficient to address the concerns that it very reasonably raises. And, although I can understand wanting to help the family of a colleague, I am very very disturbed by his and his wife’s contributions to Karl Thompson family.
And although he spoke to having learned about unintended consequences, I do not feel that he understands, still, the significance of the closed-ranks approach that officers in that department took. This is the most disturbing of all.
So I feel that the only appropriate thing is to ask you not to confirm him as chief. I am not excited about asking you that or about the processes that will need to follow. But it is the only course of action that seems responsible at this time. Thank you very much for all of the thought that you have put into your decision.
Liz Moore, PJALS