Spokane listening, learning from Memphis incident

Brian Coddington, Communications Director, 509.625.6740

Friday, January 27, 2023 at 2:24 p.m.

Mayor Nadine Woodward and Police Chief Craig Meidl issued the following statement regarding the charging of five former Memphis police officers and release of video of the incident:

The events in Memphis are devastating. We mourn for the family and friends who lost a loved one, for a community that feels betrayed by people they should trust, and for those officers in the department and around the country who will be viewed through this lens.

In dark times we must look for light. Out of tragedy, we must learn. Tyre Nichols was a father, friend, and loved one. He has now touched our lives and it is our responsibility to use that tragedy as a way to improve ourselves and our community.

Please know that as Mayor and Police Chief we are paying attention, we are listening, we are learning. The Spokane Police Department has spent several years learning how to better approach volatile situations, how to use words and context to interpret actions and avoid or de-escalate confrontations. Our department is constantly evolving to embrace best practices, including utilizing mental health co-deployed teams to assist those in crisis, incorporating Virtual Reality training to help officers develop paradigms for responding more safely to tense situations, multiple reviews of all uses of force, placement at the Spokane stabilization facility instead of jail as an alternative for those needing services, and consistent training on de-escalation.

Our training and focus has been on the human aspect of the job – from the perspective of those who call for help, those who are the subjects of those calls, and – in situations like this – the loved ones left behind, and the officers themselves.   What happened to Tyre Nichols was inhumane and something no police department can tolerate.  Spokane is committed to ensuring we are utilizing the best training, equipment and tactics to ensure our employees engage with professionalism, integrity and compassion.