Cheney Free Press -


Council OKs special officer

Commissioned role needed due to school district creation of its safety officer position


January 11, 2018

John McCallum

Incoming Councilman Paul Schmidt is administered the oath of office by Cheney City Clerk Cindy Niemeier at the Jan. 9 council meeting.

In his first City Council meeting as mayor on Jan. 9, former Councilman Chris Grover presided over the passage of a pair of emergency measures, one of which gave the city's Police Chief the authority to appoint qualified individuals as a "Special Police Officer" should the need arise.

Ordinance X-21 defines the position as "an individual employed by someone other than the City police department for security and safety purposes having a commission from the chief of police to exercise the powers of a law enforcement officer limited to the scope of their employment and the terms of their commission." The ordinance further defines the position as someone who differs from a private security guards or detectives as defined under state law, has a police commission and also differs from "members of the police reserve force."

A special police officer commission is sought by an applicant who is employing the individual for whom the commission is sought. There are specific requirements and qualifications the person must possess, including being at least 21 years of age and having worked a minimum of 90 days of safety and security experience in the employ of the applicant.

Police Chief John Hensley said the ordinance was necessary due to the Cheney School District's recent creation of its own school resource officer in addition to the officer contracted through the police department. The district's new officer is retired Cheney Police Officer and former SRO Kelly Hembach, who is currently filing the duties as a reserve officer.

"There's a little bit of liability connected with that," Hensley said.

Creation of the special police officer commission is the first of a three-part process, Hensley added. The second part is to work with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office to make the position's defined powers applicable countywide, while the third part is to work with the school district on defining final duties and abilities such as carrying a firearm and making arrests.

The council approved all three readings and final passage of the ordinance at Tuesday's meeting.

Council also unanimously approved - with Councilman Doug Nixon absent - a resolution accepting a bid for emergency repair work on two sump pumps at the city's wastewater treatment plant. The work has already been performed by the Coeur d'Alene, Idaho company R.C. Worst, who submitted a time and materials estimate with tax totaling $45,171.07.

Besides Grover, the meeting was also the first for newly-elected Councilman Paul Schmidt, who was sworn into office along with Grover and re-elected council members Teresa Overhauser and John Taves.

For Schmidt, who was elected to fill the council position previously occupied by Grover, it was a return to some familiar haunts. He often sat in Cheney's City Council chambers for 20 years, first as the city's public works director and then city administrator before leaving in 2006 to become city manager of Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island.

"The view from this vantage point is quite different," Schmidt said in council remarks later in the meeting.

John McCallum can be reached at


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