City of Spokane Use of Force Commission, First year progress report

(Previous post deleted and replaced with this one)

City of Spokane Use of Force Commission, Final Report. This is the report issued in 2013 in the aftermath of the SPD’s killing of innocent Otto Zehm and the subsequent cover up and general disrespect of the people of Spokane by the SPD. Inlander’s coverage of the 2013 report. Read the full report for yourself before you look at the 2014 presentation.

As a footnote to last year’s final report, remember that a former City of Spokane attorney routinely filed lawsuits against anyone making a complaint against the police, cutting off an important data point to recognize SPD problems.

This past week, the city presented a one-year progress report. The presentation is a public-relations sales pitch, bundled with propaganda. Lots of photos of happy smiling faces.  Fits in to the general theme of over the top propaganda throughout Spokane’s culture.

The more useful document is the 12 month progress report. As you read it, compare each recommendation to the problems detailed in last year’s report.


Spokane County jobs recovery in charts, recovery remains weak

This chart comes from the Calculated Risk blog and shows the impact of the Great Recession on U.S. non-farm jobs, compared to other recessions.  As of today, the US has recovered almost all of the jobs lost (see red line) and by the next update, next week, will likely have recovered 100% of the jobs lost.


Spokane County has recovered just under half of the jobs that were lost. The Great Recession began in November of 2007. This chart shows non-farm jobs from January 2008 to the present.

Spokane County’s job recovery is very weak relative to the nation as a whole.

SMS53440600000000001_265454_1396052338773The chart comes from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Police shootings in Spokane, by the numbers

Prior blog post on this topic – certainly relevant today: Police shootings in Spokane, by the numbers | Spokane Economic And Demographic Data.

Spokane Police Shooting Audio Analysis

Video shows robbery suspect shot, killed by Spokane Police | Spokane/E. WA –

Here is an audio trace made from the video shown by KXLY TV and KREM TV. Click on the image for a larger view.


Timing marks are minutes:seconds:frames from the start of the video clip. There are 30 frames per second.

First part of recording appears to be police urging him to give up, there are people who care about you, do the right thing, come on Stephen, … sounds like “step on out here okay” (uncertain) and then the following:

  • 01:06:09: Audio sounds like “He’s gotta gun”
  • 01:06:21 door appears to open
  • 01:07:06 suspect just becomes visible to camera view (hand and forearm seen)
  • 01:07:12 to 01:07:19 (1/4 second) unintelligible police shout
  • 01:07:07: Suspect exits the door and becomes visible to camera
  • 01:08:01: First shot fired
  • 01:10:08: Last shot fired
  • 2.3 seconds from time the door appears to open to first shot fired
  • 1.8 seconds from time suspect’s hand is visible to camera to shots fired
  • 0.8 seconds from time suspect exits the door (in camera view) to first shot fired
  • 13/30th of a second from “unintelligible” to first shot fired
  • 3.03 seconds from time he appears visible in camera view (hand seen) at the door to last shot fired.
  • 2 seconds – total duration of shooting. News reports say 14 shots fired.
  • 4.3 seconds from time door appears to open to last shot fired

The words “Drop it” are not audible on the recording (this does not mean they were not said but they are not apparent on the recording). They may have been shouted at 01:07:12 to 01:07:19 but were unintelligible to my ear; shots were then fired at 10:08:01 which is less than 1/2 second later (faster than the suspect could have reacted).

The video recording appears to have differences from the statements made by Police Chief Straub after the shooting. Straub has not yet commented on the discrepancies. (Update: The “SPD would like to clarify initial statements” and that a CO2 powered pellet gun was found near the body.)

Note: Time units may be off by 1 or 2 frames (each frame is 1/30th of a second). Seconds are approximate and rounded based on the frame by frame analysis.


Spokane Propaganda-style never goes stale!

The Pacific Northwest Qualifier Volleyball Tournament will host 603 teams at the Spokane Convention Center.”

But actually:

The teams play at one of three sites in the greater Spokane area: Spokane Convention Center, Eastern Washington University, and the HUB in the Valley

The logos of all three locations are prominent here. Don’t bring your own food to the Convention Center because apparently that’s dangerous; the other two venues allow you to bring your own food.

As reported here previously, the 2007 economic study attributed all of the economic benefits to the Convention Center.

“The annual PNW Volleyball tournament took place in 2012 at  Eastern Washington University, Liberty Lake HUB Sports Center and at the Convention Center. But the CH Johnson study (Table A-19, page 19) appears to attribute 100% of the 2007 Volleyball PNW economic impacts to the Convention Center and none to other venues. That does not seem right.”

But its right and proper when you use Spokane Propaganda-style to hide the decline in attendance. The last time the Spokesman-Review accurately reported on declining Convention Center attendance was back in 2005.

This story is obviously off limits. But apparently media’s shredding of their own credibility is not off limits, since that is what they are doing. Too bad.

This is not about whether the event is good or not (obviously its good!) or whether having the Convention Center in town is good or bad. This is about hiding the decline in attendance from the people of Spokane while repeatedly expanding the facilities. The most direct and honest objective measure of management success is – attendance – which is in a long term decline. But don’t tell anyone! Keep this a deep secret please!


Spokane Propaganda-Style

After an officer involved shooting, we should wait for the results of the investigation before passing judgement. 

Recently, an officer involved shooting took place in Spokane Valley. Sadly, it appeared to be “suicide by cop” by a heavily armed individual who had telephoned 9-1-1 with his intentions. Not much controversy there. We all have sympathy for the victim, the victim’s families, the deputies and their families. This must be awful for all involved.

Days after a shooting, law enforcement issues a press release with the names of the officers or deputies. These releases routinely list the training, commendations and awards, and sometimes past work experience of those involved.

Here’s the text of a local law enforcement press release – there is something odd here – see if you can spot which”one of these doesn’t go with the others”:

SPOKANE, Wash. – The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office is releasing the names of the deputies involved in the shooting incident that occurred at Sullivan and Indiana the night of February 11, 2014.

Deputy Brett Hubbell-14 year Sheriff’s Office veteran and SWAT Team Leader

Received a Certificate of Appreciation in 2010 for his professional work with a bank robbery investigation Sheriff’s Office Patrol Procedures lead instructor He’s received over 10 letters internally documenting his good work and professionalism. 3 years of previous law enforcement experience before joining SCSO

Deputy Jeff Thurman- 12 year Sheriff’s Office veteran and K9 handler with Laslo

Emergency Vehicle Operations and Control (EVOC) Lead Instructor and Subject Matter Expert for Pursuit Review Sheriff’s Office Field Training Officer Patrol Procedures Instructor Chief Tactical Flight Officer for SCSO Air 1 Received the 2013 National Tactical Flight Officer of the Year Award by the Airborne Law Enforcement Association Received a Certificate of Appreciation in 2010 for his professionalism and patience Received Certificates of Commendation in 2011 and 2012 for his excellent work. He’s received over 15 letters internally documenting his good work and professionalism 6 years of previous law enforcement experience before joining SCSO

Deputy Dale Moyer-7 year Sheriff’s Office veteran and SWAT Team member

In 2011 he received the Sheriff’s Star Award for his excellent work and professionalism. Sheriff’s Office SWAT and Patrol Procedures Instructor He’s received 3 letters internally documenting his good work and professionalism. 12 years of previous law enforcement experience before joining SCSO Received a Life Saving Award for helping a suicidal female in Kootenai County Previous law enforcement instructor at North Idaho College Joint Agency Drug Task Force detective, Field Training Officer, Patrol Procedures Instructor and Citizens on Patrol Instructor for Kootenai County Veteran-U.S Army Active Duty/Reserve

Deputy Ryan Walter-7 year Sheriff’s Office veteran and SWAT Team member

He’s received over 10 letters internally documenting his good work and professionalism 2 years of previous law enforcement experience before joining SCSO

Deputy Brian Hirzel-5 year Sheriff’s Office veteran

17 years of previous law enforcement experience before joining SCSO

Deputy Randy Watts has been with the Sheriff’s Office for 10 months

Prior to joining SCSO, he served in the U.S. Navy Helicopter Systems Operator-Search and Rescue Swimmer Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE) instructor with the Join Personnel Recover Agency

The SIRR Team’s investigation of the incident is ongoing. No additional information is available at this time.

Did you spot the single line on Deputy Brian Hirzel? That is odd for a deputy that has his very own topic page at the local newspaper!

From public records, Deputy Hirzel has been involved in three officer involved killings (2 by gun fire, one by hand). While the investigating agency announced he would be interviewed 3 days after the Creach shooting, the deputy was on vacation to Las Vegas, one of many factors that created controversy and cynicism.  There is a Mr. Hirzel that is also founder and principle investigator at Critical Investigations, LLC, a private investigation service in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho (See additional footnote below as the web site appears to have been taken offline after this post).

Another of the deputies was involved in a previous shooting too, and this is not mentioned.

The Spokesman-Review read their own archives and pulled up the missing details.

Leaving out inconvenient detail is called “lying by omission. No one actually lied, no one said anything that was not true. But the intent is to influence by giving part of the story in a way to intentionally misrepresent- in other words, it is propaganda. The recent news story about the Spokane Arena left out the most important metric of all – the long term downward attendance trend and that attendance for 2012 is almost 1/3 less than the peak.  Dissembling is where true facts are presented in a way or in an ordering intended to lead one to an untruthful conclusion and is a common method used in propaganda.

This is what we call  Spokane Propaganda-Style!

This blog post is not about the officers involved or whether the shooting was justified or not – this story is about Spokane Propaganda-Style. Propaganda leads directly to cynicism and a loss of trust in local institutions and leaders. 


Footnote update:

Just wanted to clarify that we did not haphazardly link to a random web site.

 Deputy Hirzel’s LinkedIn page has a link on it to the Critical Investigations web site – see “Websites Company Website“. Portions of Deputy Hirzel’s LinkedIn page have almost identical wording to that used on the Critical Investigations web site.   The Critical Investigations web site appears to have been taken offline after this post was made here on this blog.  

An Internet Archive copy of the page is here

Screen shot of the main page is here: image capture

Spokane Memorial Arena Attendance

Here’s the chart and the rest of the story at the link. All data comes from public domain sources including Eastern Washington University.


Here’s the propaganda spin in the Spokesman-Review because, you know, this is Spokane.  Attendance trends are only hinted at in a single sentence near the end of the story where they write “Average attendance from 2008-2012 was just over 700,000 people, peaking in 2010 at 879,813“, giving the impression that attendance is growing, which is false. Nothing in the story disputes that attendance remains down over the long term in spite of numerous facility upgrades.

Patrick Jones of EWU says there may be higher spending than in 2010.   He must be hypothesizing per person spending has gone up (likely). But compare the 2010 attendance peak with 2012.  The writer appears to have taken this quote out of context to give the impression that the Arena is bringing in more money than in 2010 – but with one third fewer attendees. Since the Chiefs and Shock account for about 364,000 fans per year (more than half of the 2012 attendance), and they attract a mostly local crowd, this means locals account for a larger percentage of attendance than in 2010 during the national skating event. And that means less outside money is coming to town. Local money is mostly re-arranging spending from one local place to another.

We also see the drop in out of town visitors in the airport’s passenger usage trend – note the local peaks in 2007 and 2010 (Dec and Jan now show year over year increases and the recent trend may have bottomed):


The SR’s story reinforces a major point of this blog – distortion and exaggeration remain alive and well!

We were about to make some posts about the Spokesman-Review recently descending into propaganda mode, but they just made the point for us!  The SR scored their “own goal” by scoring a point for the other team 🙂 Hilariously funny. 

The end of the story hints at what’s coming: the Arena is 18 years old and the PFD will need taxpayers to build an even bigger arena in spite of declining attendance. This propaganda piece is battle space preparation.

Can you guess which two years are the only years for which Arena economic impact studies were done? This is really hard but try to guess 🙂

Update: Like yesterday, a clarification based on feedback. This is not about whether there should be an Arena, or whether it is good for Spokane, or about taxpayer funding. This post is about:

  • Why is the decline in attendance at the Arena and other PFD facilities deliberately hidden from the public by the local press? (Today’s news story confirms this is deliberately hidden.)
  • What steps are management taking to reverse the attendance decline?