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Spokane police to request funding for new vehicles, equipment, software

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(The Center Square) – The Spokane Police Department could receive over half a million dollars in investments at no cost to constituents if the city council approves a list of expenses during Monday night’s meeting.

The available funding comes from the Federal Forfeiture Fund and State Drug Forfeiture Fund, two accounts that use revenue from the sale of forfeited property to pay for police expenditures.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice brought the accounts’ total to $744,000 after awarding SPD almost $120,000; it’s cut from the sale of a forfeited home that the agencies seized 20 pounds of meth in 2021.

SPD is asking to spend $520,000 of that total. Regulations require the department to spend available funding as awarded, noting that the department cannot budget the revenue for future expenses.

If approved, SPD would use $100,000 on three new undercover vehicles for its Tactical Operations Unit, alleviating other divisions that currently lend vehicles to Tac-Ops after mechanical failures and collisions rendered their units inoperable, according to briefing documents in the agenda.

An additional $140,000 in funding would replace one of SPD’s scanners, an expenditure considered “mission critical.” According to briefing documents, SPD’s Major Crimes Unit started using the Leica RTC360 scanner in 2018 and has since documented over 275 crime scenes.

The scanner is reaching the end of its service life, and without it, MCU would have to document scenes through photography, hand-drawn sketches, diagrams and surveying/mapping software, as it did in the past.

Another SPD priority includes securing $160,000 for the Cellebrite software, an industry standard. The software allows law enforcement to unlock cell phones and access data hidden behind a passcode.

Cellebrite serves as a vital tool for SPD when investigating human trafficking, child pornography and homicides, according to briefing documents. The controversial practice opens many doors, both investigational and ethically.

The $25,000 requested to purchase respirators is the only “new” investment listed that does not replace a prior asset or service. According to briefing documents, the allocation would provide officers with powered air-purifying respirators, which could save lives when encountering fentanyl.

The $80,0000 that SPD requested in “confidential funds” would go toward investigating controlled substances and human trafficking. According to briefing documents, the amount requested should sustain operations through the end of the year.

Additionally, the $15,000 requested for training would prepare SPD pilots for the new drones it’s anticipating receiving through a technology grant.

If each outlined expenditure is approved, SPD would still have $224,000 available from the Federal Forfeiture Fund and the State Drug Forfeiture Fund for the rest of 2024.