By PAUL DELANEY
Staff Reporter 

Lack of response 'mythological'

Spokane County Sheriff tells ML council in services overview he's never heard complaints

 

Last updated 7/27/2017 at 5:11pm

Paul Delaney

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich visited Medical Lake's July 18 City Council meeting to discuss the proposed contract renewal between his agency and the city for providing policing services.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich presented to the Medical Lake City Council an overview of the proposed contract his organization will undertake in providing policing services in 2018.

Knezovich also spent considerable time, at the July 8 meeting, countering claims and defending the level of service the SCSO provides the community. The proposed deal - which the city will spend just short of $900,000 for its law enforcement needs - is currently being reviewed by city officials.

Knezovich provided the council, and a generally full chamber, with a report comparing the first six months of 2017 with that of the same period in 2016.

"Keep in mind that we just switched over to a new reporting system," he said. "There is nothing here that really concerns me, especially when you look at the five-year averages."

There were, however, some glitches in the report he presented, including some Spokane Valley reports that found their way into the ML report.

The new reporting process is a bit more complex. A burglary, for instance, encompasses the burglary stat, a theft and any other crime that is committed at the time.

"Now that one burglary results in multiple different stats," Knezovich said. A theft report also includes fraud and theft of identification.

The proposed Medical Lake contract uses the same methodology as is used in the Spokane Valley where the SCSO also provides contracted policing.

The Sheriff's Office began serving Medical Lake in late 2009 following the decision to disband the local police department. The SCSO advised the city on trying to maintain their own law enforcement agency but in the end that was not possible for a variety of reasons, mainly money.


And ever since, the idea of having the Sheriff's Office provide this service has met with certain levels of concern, mainly with response time and alleged lack of response.

The complaint is sometimes heard that officers do not show up, a charge Knezovich called "mythological."

"I have never heard any complaints from the citizens of Medical Lake that we don't respond to," Knezovich said. Knezovich said he asked City Administrator Doug Ross if he had received verified complaints.

"They are all anecdotal, every one of them," Knezovich said, adding the problems seem to arise every election year.

Ross said that citizen complaint forms to officially validate concerns are available at City Hall.

Outgoing Mayor John Higgins said that in eight years on the job he has had no complaints about the level of service.

In regular council business, one item of note was news of a settlement in a matter involving Brian and Carola Kenny and the city of Medical Lake. Because a city water main crosses their property the city agreed to a total payment of $31,000 of which $12,339 came fro the city and the balance from an insurance company, which avoids taking the matter to court, Ross said. Council unanimously approved payment.


The evening ended with about 30 minutes of discussion surrounding the second reading of Ordinance 1055 regarding outdoor recreational fires. Councilwoman Jessica Roberts sought to have the measure tabled for further input and review. But that motion was overturned 5-2 with Roberts and Laura Parsons casting the two no votes.

Future meeting dates of note include a hearing that is scheduled for Aug. 15 to unveil the plan for upcoming the future street projects. A budget meeting will take place Sept. 26 at 6 p.m.

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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