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Spokane selects finalists in nationwide hunt for new police chief

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(The Center Square) – The Spokane Police Department’s search for a new chief is coming to a close, announcing Thursday that four finalists will participate in a public forum next week.

Those who made the cut include Kevin Hall, assistant chief of the Tucson Police Department; Matthew Murray, chief of the Yakima Police Department; Tom Worthy, chief of The Dalles Police Department; and Kathleen Lanier, a colonel with the Memphis Police Department.

The nationwide hunt for a new department head started in February, about a month after Spokane’s new mayor took office. The effort culminated through a public safety survey, a selection committee, various community meetings and help from executive search firms.

“I am incredibly grateful to all of those who have participated in our search for a new Chief of Police,” Mayor Lisa Brown said in a news release. “This search included robust community engagement, ensuring that voices from across our community were heard. I sincerely thank the public for their invaluable feedback and the members of the selection committee for their dedication and hard work.”

Each finalist will participate in the public forum on June 27 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Spokane’s Central Library along Main Avenue. The city will also livestream the event on its website and Facebook page.

Throughout the event, community members will have a chance to meet the finalists and hear what they have to offer to Spokane. Following the public forum, residents can take another survey to share their feedback with the Mayor’s Office to guide Brown’s decision.

The search for a new leader was initiated in response to former Police Chief Craig Meidl’s retirement in December. He announced the decision shortly after then-conservative Mayor Nadine Woodward lost the November election to Brown, a seasoned Democrat.

“I have worked for two amazing Mayors who have trusted me at the helm of the Spokane Police Department for the past seven years,” Meidl wrote in a statement announcing his retirement. “Mayor Woodward’s support and encouragement, for me personally and the SPD as a whole, during the last four years has been tremendous in helping us retain and attract the brightest talent available. I am grateful for their confidence in me.”

Meidl became chief in 2016 but served with SPD since 1994. He wished Brown a bit of good luck on his way out, and currently in his place is Interim Chief Justin Lundgren, who formerly served as Meidl’s assistant chief.

However, Meidl has since rescinded his retirement and taken a job as interim chief with the Richland Police Department.

“The Spokane Police Department looks forward to meeting the candidates and to the next chapter in SPD’s strong history of providing the best possible public service to the community,” Julie Humphreys, SPD’s spokeswoman, wrote in an email. “The next Chief will lead an exemplary group of dedicated and skilled officers and civilians who not only serve the community but, as community members themselves, also want a safe and vibrant Spokane.”