SPOKANE, Wash – After a months-long search, including hometown visits by Mayor David Condon, Spokane's newest Chief of Police has been sworn in.
Dr. Frank Straub has already been on the job for a week, and in a Monday ceremony at the Spokane Police Department, he said it's a privilege to lead SPD – but he knows there are tough challenges ahead.
"My goal, and the goal of the command staff, and the goal of this police department is to make us the best mid-size police dept in the country," Straub said.
There was some surprise that Straub was sworn in as Chief of Police, and not Director of Law Enforcement, since he still has to complete an online course to become a fully certified police officer in the State of Washington. He was granted a waiver by the Washington State Criminal Justice Commission to take the equivalency exam, rather than attend the police academy.
"I am able to carry a gun, I am acting as a police officer, what I have to complete is the equivalency exam to meet the final stage of the state requirements," he said.
Straub was issued his gun Friday, and has completed firearms training, a first aid course, and a polygraph exam – all standard for his position.
At his swearing-in, Straub also spoke about the 2006 beating death of Otto Zehm – a case that has scarred the reputation of the department. While former Spokane Police Officer Karl Thompson awaits sentencing for his role in Zehm's death, Straub said:
"We have to be really careful that something that happened years ago doesn't create a pale on the department – and the city and the community more broadly – that never goes away. We've taken some concrete steps, the judicial system has taken concrete steps, and the department has learned a whole bunch of lessons from that," Straub said. "At some point in time we're going to have to say it happened. It was a horrific experience that never should have happened, but now we all have to move on."
Straub has said one of his top goals is restoring public trust in the second largest police force in the state, and that one of the ways to do that is for him to get out in the community and meet people to better understand their issues.
"This is a marathon," he added. "The whole idea is not to do everything in a week or two weeks, but to really do everything in a methodical way."