Jeff Humphrey, Media Manager, 509.625.6308
Friday, February 7, 2020 at 10:26 a.m.
In February of 2019, Spokane voters approved a property tax increase to allow the city to hire more police and put some of them to work in the downtown area.
Next week, more than a dozen of those new recruits will start their training at the Basic Law Enforcement Academy.
One of the Spokane Police Department’s latest hires knows how to make a mean martini.
Recruit Kaitlyn Painter was a lead bartender for Twiggs, but leaving the hospitality industry for a career in law enforcement.
Recruit Tricia Leming is a mother of four who wants to make her West Central Neighborhood safer for her family.
Recruit AJ Ussery is a former college basketball player and corrections officer with a degree in psychology.
“So what we did is, we really expanded our efforts to get out into the community and find people that typically we haven’t traditionally gone to,” Police Chief Craig Meidl said of the department’s effort to recruit people from various backgrounds.
And that’s why not only is this Spokane’s largest cop class in more than two decades; it’s also the most diverse.
Several of the prospective officers are over the age of forty. Five of the recruits are women.
“I live in the west central neighborhood and I’ve seen a lot of what goes on in our city and I decided that I wanted to take part in something big that can make a difference,” said Recruit Leming.
Only about one out of every ten police applicants are accepted to the Basic Law Enforcement Academy.
While physical fitness is important, a lot of people just don’t have the verbal judo it takes to safely resolve conflicts on the street.
“You can teach defensive tactics and firearms and all the skills you need to go in law enforcement. But, having personnel skills is something that develops over time. So I think having those personnel skills definitely translates to law enforcement,” explained Recruit Painter.
Patience, people skills and problem solving; all things Recruit Ussery learned during the three years he spent helping kids with drug and mental health problems.
“Help with mental illness, because you know that’s a major part of what people who commit crimes are going through. They have problems with their mental health that we can definitely help. So that’s one of the major things I want to do,” said Recruit Ussery.
If all goes well, the 14 recruits should be patrolling our city with their field-training officers by mid-July.
Chief Meidl hopes these latest hires will make the Spokane Police Department more representative of the community it serves and protects.